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3DS region lock confirmed

"Different versions of hardware" for US, Japan and Europe

Nintendo has clarified rumours that its impending 3DS handheld would include regional restrictions.

While not claiming an absolute lock-out for games from other territories, it did confirm in a statement to Eurogamer that "There is the possibility that Nintendo 3DS software sold in one region will not function properly when running on Nintendo 3DS hardware sold in another."

As such, it advised purchasers only used hardware from their own region.

This is apparently because "Nintendo has developed different versions of Nintendo 3DS hardware to take into account different languages, age rating requirements and parental control functionality, as well as to ensure compliance with local laws in each region."

The device will see different hardware for Japan, the US and Europe.

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Latest comments (24)

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 8 years ago
This sounds to me more like a language/localization issue than a region lock. Could it be as simple as it having font information in ROM and the western versions don't have the Japanese fonts? Similar issues would apply to handwriting recognition, if they happen to have finally put that in.
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Martin Mathers Copywriter/Journalist 8 years ago
Are we potentially looking at handheld DLC? Buying a game in, say, Japan but then running it on a UK 3DS with no access to the Japanese online store would mean you couldn't get the DLC.

It's an idea, certainly.

Also, it's worth noting that the words used are 'function properly' - no-one's said that they flat-out won't work. Nintendo could be referring to laws (so, for instance, a German 3DS may have a lock-out that restricts games with blood/gore in from working properly, since the German version will be edited), rather than direct lock-out. Again, it's an idea... though I'm probably wrong and it's a total lock-out that they're simply skirting around. :(

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Martin Mathers on 18th January 2011 1:08pm

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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University8 years ago
any bets people will be mod the 3ds to get pass this.

any more bets on will Nintendo be able to block it on a update?
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Show all comments (24)
Alex Winton Website Administrator 8 years ago
Nintendo also advised against playing games from other regions on your region free DS, Gameboy Advance and Gameboy. I don't think this is explicitly saying "you will NOT be able to play American games on a European 3DS" enough to really consider this confirmed yet.

I sincerely hope it's not the case, to be honest. It seems a bit silly to region lock a portable device that you could quite conceivably take with you to other regions. In all, region locking in and of itself is quite backwards in such a global market - but at least with consoles and DVD players you're not exactly likely to be carting them around on a trip to the States.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Certainly portables get taken on international trips quite often but what doesn't happen quite often is purchasing software in that region once there.

If I were to go vacation somewhere in Europe for a week, it's incredibly doubtful I'd have a sudden urge to buy a new 3DS game. Buy the game when you get back home in a few days.

The volume of people this limits is being greatly exaggerated. Long term trips for business or educational may pose a problem but that's what import markets are for.
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Alex Winton Website Administrator 8 years ago
Maybe for States -> Europe, sure. Though I can imagine many more people in the UK would much more happily pick up a game in the States if they were there when it was out than wait to come back here and pay a greater amount of money at probably a much later date.

I'm sure I'm also not the only one whose main port of call when shopping, either on holiday or at home, is to check out the game shops either.

But that's all anecdotal anyway. The point is, it's a disruptive feature that makes even less sense on a portable unit than it does on its bigger brothers. Until now, Nintendo have avoided imposing this restriction on its portable systems and it would be rather unpleasant if they started with the 3DS.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alex Winton on 18th January 2011 2:51pm

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Martin Mathers Copywriter/Journalist 8 years ago
@Jimmy - Yes, you're right, the people this will affect are an incredibly small minority. However, they still exist and it would be lax of Nintendo to start ignoring them now, especially since they also represent the most ardent fans of the company.

I actually had this discussion the other day with various games journo types, focusing on Oss! Tatakae! Ouendan! - yes, it came out as Elite Beat Agents over here, but it was a completely different game with (in my opinion) much of the charm lost, not to mention different music that wasn't as good (again, in my opinion). And rather ironically, if OTO hadn't been playable on western handhelds in the first place, I don't even think it would have got enough momentum here in the west to warrant a release...

Also, as Alex pointed out - if you're American and you come to the UK/Europe, then there'd be little point buying games since you'd most likely already have them at a cheaper price where you are. The same can't be said, however, for Europeans visiting the US, or any of us westerns visiting Japan.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Martin Mathers on 18th January 2011 2:55pm

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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University8 years ago
Alex Winton@ this all started with the DSI games, any DSI game say from usa will not play on a EU DSI or JP DSI.... but they will on the ds - any DSI game parts...
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Peter Dwyer software engineer, openbet8 years ago
Unless I've just gone back in time and can't travel by those new fangled air-o-planes then how is this bloody thing called a portable. What is it portable from one end of England (where I am) to the next but, god forbid I manage to get as far a field as the americas and find a 3DS game I like there! or even the east indies!

For frak sake Nintendo stop being absolute asses for once in your lives!
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Here's looking forward to delayed launches of poorly translated games. The english speaking community (read: majority of readers here) probably has no idea how bad some translations are. I just hope Nintendo stick to their multi-language versions as seen on the DS.

And no more last-minute game purchases at the airport either....
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Richard Westmoreland Senior Game Designer, Codemasters Birmingham8 years ago
Its a crying shame Nintendo have gone down this route. I've imported several DS games due delayed or non existent European launches. They seem to be going out of their way to make things difficult and poor for us Europeans.

We live in a global community now, region locking should be consigned to the past for all products be they games, music, films or TV.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Westmoreland on 18th January 2011 5:57pm

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Rachel Griffiths Studying Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham8 years ago
Region locks are always a pain (no getting that game you're desperate for early on import) but the main problem that people usually have with it is that often many of the best games are foreign, particularly Japanese.

The Japanese market comes up with many more of the kooky, interesting games that seem not to exist in the Western market, and are not converted into PAL versions; and whether you can read the language or not they remain popular import buys.

I suppose we will have to wait and see if it is merely, as someone has considered above, Nintendo warning of possible language barriers with foreign games. I think that unfortunately they will use this as an excuse to apply an actual region lock though, else why make the announcement at all? Obviously current Japanese games are also in a language we cannot (or most of us) understand, but they still work and the DS is not considered "locked". I agree with Richard, players can easily be region free these days and culture is much more global, theres no reason for actually locking a system.
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Iván Ortega Head of Customer Support, Now Computing8 years ago
Bad news for players. Getting less playing choices is never a good idea. I hope at least this makes companies more prone to translating and exporting games, because there are, if not a lot, at least some games who never get out of their regions, which is a real pity.

Anyway i guess this goes against piracy as well...that´s where getting the games first always affected more. Still, i dont like it, but well...I dont think Nintendo is reading our thoughts here and ready to make changes because of it ^^U
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 8 years ago
That sucks big time man! In Australia we usually pay at leat a third to double the price for games as compared to other parts of the world. I have a number of DS and GBA games bought overseas because I saved heaps from doing that - games come out faster in US and also there are games that won't even come to Australia. The whole regional lock thing will deter me from getting a 3DS locally at all. I think Nintendo is just shooting at his own foot. Regional lock is so last century and we are supposed to talk about free trade and global economy here. Really it sucks!
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Private Industry 8 years ago
I was really thinking we could finally get over all that region locking since I do import games from US or JP from time to time if they are released way earlier there or even not released at all in EU. With how that will be on 3DS you have no idea if it will work or not until you get the game and insert it :/


"Nintendo has developed different versions of Nintendo 3DS hardware to take into account different languages, age rating requirements and parental control functionality, as well as to ensure compliance with local laws in each region."

Either way that`s just some very very cheap excuse or Nintendo has for EACH country a separate 3DS version, because we all know Germany has different age rating requirements and local laws as the UK. Given that Nintendo was able previously to make handhelds that are region free I would assume it`s the "very very cheap excuse" option.

Any bets on Hotz next target as long as he is still a free man? ^^

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 18th January 2011 8:16pm

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This doesn't say anything - the current DS lineup is exactly the same. Each accesses a single AppStore for instance, which is bound to a region. It just means that unlike the Wii, you won't be able to change "country" from the hardware itself.
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology8 years ago
couldnt they just have a worldwide 3ds console but have each "locked" to the app store the country it was brought in?

still a silly idea on nindentos part...
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Chia-Hao Liu Foreign Market Sales, TOSA International Inc.8 years ago
I will probably wait and see for a while before getting 3DS just because this silly region lock.
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Tony Johns8 years ago
Well that would suck.

Good on you Nintendo,

If anything, If I was going to be getting the Nintendo 3DS just to play games from Japan that would never come out to Australia...then you guys have forced me into importing and not going with my local businesses.

But if it did come to that, I could at least get two 3DS's, one for Japanese games and the other for games that made it into Australia...

Unless if I also import the US version too...

Then there comes the power cable issues...and the issues between 50 amps and 60 amps difference between regions..

You know...All of this could have been avoided if you guys at Nintendo just made each 3DS compatiple to each region and each of the countries rating systems all in the same hardware/software compadability.

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Tony Johns8 years ago
Another good one Nintendo, if I was going to get a portable system for the next generation, you have effectively made me chose the Sony PSP2...unless if that is also region locked too...then I could just import by systems from USA and Japan.

(Like...I can't play RPGs in Japanese because what about if there was this item I needed to get past this quest, and I won't be able to understand what item I would need...)

I can always get my Japanese music games and Visual Novels from Japan, but my anime RPGs I will have to get from North America when they get translated into english.

Sadly, allot of casual gamers who are new to this will hardly ever notice what they are missing out on.

ahhh....ignorance can be bliss...sometimes...

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Stephen Page journalist 8 years ago
Yet another step backward shoring up the defences while the pirate hordes, cutlass in hand spring over the barriers.
Industry needs a new methodology and fast.
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Petter Solberg Freelance Writer & Artist, 8 years ago
All news about region locks are bad news. Just another attempt to control the market at the cost of the consumers.

If all versions were identical it might not be an issue. The problem is that everything from the box art to content may be different for different regions. For instance, take those different language versions. If a game is originally made in English, I don't want to be forced to play the game with a non-English version just because of stupid licensing issues or decisions to only release one language for each version. Language should be a choice, and not depending on what country you're in. Sometimes consumers have to buy several versions if they want to try the game out with different versions.

And look at the DVD/Blu ray market. Very often bonus features from region 1 releases are removed before they are released on region 2. Which results in people buying region 1 players (or make the DVD/blu ray player region free) even if they have original region 2 players just so they can import their region 1 movie. Complicated and time-consuming?

So in the end, region locks/encoding can't be justified entirely by the excuse that different markets have different prices on the same products. The products themselves are different.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Petter Solberg on 20th January 2011 2:11am

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Majora artisan | freelance editor 8 years ago
I can't stand region-locked consoles: I want to be able to choose which game I play and in what language after I buy a console for those games. Especially since not all games are released in all regions (and never will, let's be realistic).

Please Nintendo, don't make this mistake. Also, please include the original language (Japanese or whichever it is) in all your games, with English subtitles when needed. There is enough space in the 3DS game cards. ;)
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Peter Bond Studying Art & Design, University of Bedfordshire8 years ago
sucks man, maybe i should wait until 3ds xl is released, by that time, ders sure to be some kinder universal adaptor of some kind eh Datel?:)
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