Nintendo Considering Making Consoles Region Free
It looks like we might be able to play Fatal Frame 5: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden after all.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has shocked us all by addressing the ever-increasing masses who hope to see the company's gaming consoles go region-free. NeoGAF member Cheesemeister posted a link to an interview with Iwata during the latest investor Q&A. This was the first investor Q&A Iwata attended since he had a tumor in his bile duct removed last month -- he did not attend Nintendo's shareholder meeting this past June and skipped E3 2014 the same month due to the health reasons stemming from issues with his bile duct.
Here is the translated question and answer regarding region-locking:
Q4: At present, your company's hardware and games make use of region-locking, by which games purchased in one region cannot be played in another region. Are there any plans to unlock this restriction?
A4: Iwata: The game business has a history of taking a very long time with localization among other things, such as having to deal with various issues of marketing in each particular country, or games that have made use of licensed content that did not apply globally, and had all kinds of circumstances, so to say, that region-locking has existed due to circumstances on the sellers' side rather than for the sake of the customers. In the history of game consoles, that is the current situation. As for what should be done going forward, if unlocked for the benefit of the customers, there may also be a benefit for us. Conversely, unlocking would require various problems to be solved, so while I can't say today whether or not we intend to unlock, we realize that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future.
For those who do not know, region-looking is a type of digital rights management when a video game console developer prevents the use of a video game outside of a certain area. For example, Wii U consoles sold in North America are unable to play Wii U games directly imported from Japan -- they would have to wait for the titles' official North American release by Nintendo. Throughout the past three decades, NIntendo has remained adamant about its stance about upholding region-locking.
There is even a petition asking Nintendo to end its region-locking at Change.org. As of today, the petition is currently sitting at 33,151 signatures.
In case you were wondering, both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One are region-free (meaning there is no locking in place).