Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

In a Q&A with Japanese investors (helpfully translated by a NeoGAF user), Nintendo President Satoru Iwata publicly stated for the first time that his company has considered removing the region lock that restricts playable software on Wii U and 3DS to hardware that sold in the same period. region.

In response to a question about the practice, Iwata defended the historical reasons for limiting international interoperability, such as translation, marketing, and licensing issues. But he acknowledged that these are justifications that mostly apply to game makers and vendors, while being a detriment to customers.

“In terms of what needs to be done in the future, if it’s unlocked to the benefit of the customers, there could be a benefit to us as well,” Iwata said. “Conversely, unlocking would require several issues to be resolved, so while I can’t say today if we plan to unlock, we realize it’s one thing we need to consider as we look to the future.”

While consoles from Sony and Microsoft have moved away from region-locking over the past few generations, Nintendo has actually gone a bit in the opposite direction, from a famously region-agnostic position for the Game Boy and DS lines to a system-wide region-locking policy for the 3DS ( although that limitation can be circumvented without too much trouble). The Wii U is the only current console with a mandatory region lock, just as the Wii was in the last generation of consoles (although publishers could enforce software-based region restrictions on some Xbox 360 and PS3 games).

As late as last year, Iwata defended Nintendo’s stance on region locking, citing “cultural and legal restrictions,” as well as differences in age rating systems, as reasons to stop cross-border interoperability. A fan movement pressuring Nintendo to reverse its policy on this issue has so far garnered more than 30,000 internet signatures, as well as powerful Twitter and Facebook presences.

By akfire1

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