After Microsoft’s stunning reversal of its restrictive online and region locking policies, Nintendo is the only company that is going to have any sort of region locking on its platforms. Both the Wii U and the 3DS are region locked, meaning that the platforms can only play games bought from the same region as the console. In an interview with IGN, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata goes into a little more detail on why Nintendo has been sticking with this policy.
“From some people’s perspective, it might seem like a kind of restriction. However, we hope people can appreciate the fact that we’re selling our products worldwide,” Iwata states. ”There are many different regions around the world, and each region has its own cultural acceptance and legal restrictions, as well as different age ratings. There are always things that we’re required to do in each different region, which may go counter to the idea that players around the world want the freedom to play whatever they want.”
Iwata mentions age ratings as being a factor in region locking Nintendo’s consoles, as Europe implements the PEGI system for their video game content rating system, compared to America’s ESRB system. However, it isn’t just Nintendo dealing with these differences; every game company has to account for these contrasting rating systems, and Microsoft and Sony are still making their consoles region free.
Iwata goes on to say that Nintendo isn’t the only company utilizing these region locking policies. “I hope that game fans can understand that the industry isn’t doing this solely out of business ego,” Iwata says. ”There are some reasons behind it.”
Nintendo has made some of its handhelds region free in the past however. The DS and DS Lite were region free, until the DSi employed a restriction. In regards previous to home consoles, the Wii and GameCube were both region locked.