Yarnton: 3DS region lock partially due to ratings, DLC

UK Nintendo boss defends decision and draws parallels with DVDs

Nintendo UK boss David Yarnton has defended his company's decision to region lock the 3DS and its games by claiming that the decision is at least partly down to DLC support and the difference in international ratings systems.

Speaking to Eurogamer in an interview, Yarnton also compared the region locking to that of DVDs, which has long been accepted as common practice.

"There are a number of different factors that come into it. Part of it is, when you're looking at the software and the different areas, what additional features are included that may not necessarily be available in other territories? For example, we might have in one territory downloadable content that's not necessarily suitable or we don't have the means to do it in another territory. So therefore it may not be compatible," the executive told Eurogamer.

"The other thing is, if we look at it at on a regional basis, we have to be very conscious of - the customer may not really care about this - but different territories have different ratings. We're very conscious of making sure we toe the line as far as government goes. In Europe we've got PEGI. In Australia there's a different rating. America's got a different rating. Japan's a different rating.

"The other part, DVDs are also region-locked. It's nothing new. I know people would love to sample the box of chocolates from everywhere, but at this stage... As time goes on, who knows what's going to happen?"

The decision to lock Nintendo's newest handheld, meaning that games purchased from outside your geographical region won't play on a locally bought 3DS, surprised and many disappointed some, who were hoping to import niche titles from Japan. These hopes were dashed by an attendant PR in the Eurogamer interview, who responded unequivocally to the line of questioning.

"All games will be region locked."

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Latest comments (11)

Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University11 years ago
When do i take my Torch out?

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David Spender Lead Programmer 11 years ago
These are all such hollow arguments, I'd be surprised if they were said with a straight face.
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PR Bullshit. Just say you want to control your distribution channels and you hope that it will ensure that piracy is not as rampant on the DS.

I don't mind the Region Lock as long as you release that niche Japanese game I want in European Territories.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marlon Andall on 20th January 2011 12:45pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
OK, let's look at it this way. If there was another reason for region locking than those provided, what are they? It cost money and resources to divide hardware and software production lines so I don't think they are taking the issue lightly and just doing it to spite gamers.
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Richard Westmoreland Senior Game Designer, Codemasters Birmingham11 years ago
@Marlon - Region locks don't prevent piracy, they increase it. I'd wager when the hardware is cracked to play any different regions' games it will also allow piracy. The smart option is just to have no regions. Locking down age ratings per country at a system level can be done in software. The DS even records the user's age! You can use the age rating native to the region it was bought in.

The DVD argument is also moot. Pretty much any DVD player is multi region, or can easily be changed to be region 0.

Sadly, we can't change anything. Nintendo has made up their minds and will punish gamers for seemingly no reason.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Westmoreland on 20th January 2011 5:23pm

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I think in this day and age, region locks are not a great way forward due to the internationalization of technology.

I'm sure some fine folks will find a way around it. The fact is, why stop folks from playing multiple game titles from different areas. I'm sure with patches and additional support that Nintendo intend to roll out, this logistical issue can be solved (not necessarily easily) but still quite doable.

Heck from march till June, as long as the support is golden - there are many opportunities to unlock and upgrade the user experience.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Supposedly this is just a carry over from the policy established on the DSi (for DSiWare) and the Wii.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 11 years ago
As Richard pointed out, DVD regional lock is literally dead nowadays as most players are now region free. In Australia retailers provide codes to unlock your players so you can play DVD from any region.

For me regional lock is just a means to protect their regional business so they can plan better launches of blockbuster games in phases to boost sales figures throughout the year (as different regions have different financial year calendar) so they look a lot better on the books. This will probably mean that certain regions will have much later launches of certain games.

The whole regional lock thing is trollish in my opinion. Just like when Square Enix made games of different regions can't communicate with each other even if they have LAN or online capability. I'll probably just wait for people to crack the regional lock on 3DS before getting one as I import niche games from other territories that may never see the daylight in Australia.
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Yeah, not great arguments. You can still release the Australian version of the game in Australia - but why block someone from running that version on a UK version of the 3DS? It actually makes no sense at all for a handheld (where there are no PAL/NTSC issues, etc).

As people have pointed out, it gives hackers a moral leg to stand on when they start hacking the system.

Nintendo could use it to limit damage from piracy - but even this would be limited.
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Chia-Hao Liu Foreign Market Sales, TOSA International Inc.11 years ago
Nintendo should ask them self the reason why people would always want to import games from Japan. consumers are buying the device for great game not the device itself. I agree the hacker will eventually hack it, making the bullying region lock pointless.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Chia-Hao Liu on 24th January 2011 6:45am

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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 11 years ago
Richard, the ostensible point is that can't "use the age rating native to the region it was bought in" (presumably by this, you mean the region in which the game was rated) because they ought to use the region in which the game is being played, instead.

That said, yes, the whole idea of maintaining region locks on games is a poor one; games at least are not burdened with the history (especially contractual) that the film and television industry has to deal with. Perhaps Nintendo really wanted to the region restrictions only for video, and just thoughtlessly added it to games as well. Or perhaps they really do have business executives who are stuck in a pre-Internet world.
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