Iwata Explains Reasoning Behind Region-Locking

Iwata Explains Reasoning Behind Region-Locking

When it comes to region-locked gaming hardware, Nintendo stands in solitary — in the center of the big stage, in the bright white spotlight.

With Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 being region-free, fans have the opportunity to experience games from other regions — not just games released for the region the console was manufactured for. So, why has Nintendo refused to change its way of thinking since the DSi was introduced in 2008?

IGN’s Richard George asked global president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, about its region-locking philosophy during the recent E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) 2013 in southern California. Here’s what Iwata had to say:

“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. 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. I hope that game fans can understand that the industry isn’t doing this solely out of business ego. There are some reasons behind it.”

While this conversation came before Microsoft’s reversal for its DRM (Digital Rights Management) implementation for their Xbox One, it paints a rather crystal clear picture of Nintendo’s unwillingness to go region-free with its current and future generation of hardware.

A large number of Nintendo fans have recently become passionately enraged, taking to social media outlets and online petitions to vent their concern. In fact, over 15,000 gaming industry fans have signed one such petition.

Fans emphasize that having region-free consoles not only allows them to experience games from regions outside of their own, but also allows them to exercise their rights as a consumer and expand their gaming horizons.

Do you foresee Nintendo changing their restrictive policy in the future?


  1. The thing I didn’t like about Josh’s reasons, is that he mainly focused on the import of Japanese games.
    For me, that’s not the issue. For me, I want to be able to import an English (translated) game from either region (Euro or US).

  2. I think that Josh Thomas of The Bit Block really voiced his opinion on this matter quite well. He is in favor of region locking and explains why in more depth than this answer from Iwata. Now that I understand a little more about the “benefits” of a region locked system I am fine with how things currently are.

  3. What a lame reason!!
    I don’t understand why I can’t import a game from the UK or the US???? (I live in Australia, so am under the euro umbrella)


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