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Last Console Standing: Region-Locking on the Wii U

A new fan campaign wants Nintendo to drop region-locking on the Wii U and 3DS.

News by Mike Williams, .

Back in May, a number of NeoGAF posters led by Paul ‘FamousMortimer’ Dodd began a concentrated campaign to let Sony know that its fans did not want any sort of always-online, anti-used DRM on the PlayStation 4. It was a strong movement based around Twitter: participants were told the Twitter accounts of a few high-ranking Sony executives and in their tweets they used specific hashtags to denote their comments as part of the drive. The entire thing was well-timed, well-organized, and for the most part, quite civil.

E3 rolled around and Sony brought down the house by announcing that the PlayStation 4 would have no DRM, require no online connection, and let users trade their physical games freely. A few weeks later, Microsoft followed with the announcement that it was rolling back its DRM policy. Without a direct comment from Sony or Microsoft executives, we’ll never truly know the effect the #NoDRM campaign had on either party, but I believe it stands as a wonderful monument to what people can accomplish when they work together.

Now those on NeoGAF have turned their eyes towards another cause: removing region-locking. As it currently stands, Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One have no region-lock, leaving Nintendo’s Wii U as the only next-generation console to have one. This time Japanese-based NeoGAF poster Cheesemeister has taken up the hashtag mantle and decided to spearhead this new effort.

To you, it's dudes in costumes riding bikes. To me, it's the culmination of years of watching.

While I don’t share Pete's avid love of Japanese titles, I do love the occasional Japanese title here and there. Over the past week, I’ve been looking into purchasing Kamen Rider: Battride War for PlayStation 3. Everyone has their ‘thing’, and one of my many things is a love of the Kamen Rider series. Yes, it’s a children’s live-action television show, but damnit, it’s children’s live-action television I enjoy immensely. Battride War brings together the last 15 years worth of Kamen Rider (the series reboots every year) in a Dynasty Warriors-style brawler. Most of the original actors even returned to voice their characters! As a lover of Kamen Rider, it’s frankly amazing to even see Battride War, doubly so since past Rider games have stuck to portable platforms like the Nintendo DS.

Kamen Rider: Battride War is a game I can only entertain picking up because the PlayStation 3 has no region-lock. It’s a title that will never be released here, since Kamen Rider has not had the same cross-regional success in the U.S. as its counterpart, Super Sentai (Power Rangers). If the PlayStation 3 had region-locking, that game would’ve been cut off to me unless I purchased a separate Japanese system. So, while region-locking doesn’t affect a majority of my gameplaying time, it is something that bothers me when it rears its ugly head.

Nintendo began the idea of region-locks way back in the day with the Nintendo Entertainment System, so it seems appropriate that it's the land man standing. While getting rid of region-locking isn't a magic cure-all for the Wii U's current problems, the people participating in the campaign are obviously hardcore fans who love the system. In addition to Twitter, members of the campaign have taken to Nintendo’s Miiverse social network, drawing an endless numbers of sketches to let Nintendo know that they want region-locking gone. Some of them are pretty great.

Want to be a part of the campaign? You can head to this thread on NeoGAF to learn all about it. The link includes hashtags, major Nintendo Twitter accounts, and even physical addresses if you’re into old-school snail-mail. If it’s important to you, then you should make your voice heard (in a civil manner of course).

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Comments 11

  • Avatar for docexe #1 docexe 4 years ago
    I can understand the rationale (at least, from a business point of view) behind many of Nintendo’s many restrictive policies from past and present. But region locking, at least on the present day, isn’t one of them. Indeed, outside of complying with some sort of commercial regulation or technology standard (eg. The NTSC and PAL formats) that differ between regions, I have never seen much point to region locking on any format.
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  • Avatar for Fresh_Paprika #2 Fresh_Paprika 4 years ago
    First let me say, this is a wonderful cause, and I'm gonna help support it.

    Now, it's worth mentioning that the DS was plagued with Chinese bootleg copies of games that worked nearly as good as original copies on DS and DS Lite systems. I bought a copy of The World Ends With You on Ebay once. $17, sounds like a deal! It turned out to be a fake, but it worked. Making handhelds region specific may allow Nintendo to easily prevent the use of bootlegs. But I'm sure there are other more expensive, ways to do it.

    But I still remember NoA's Xenoblade/Last Story fiasco, Xenoblade being one of my favourite games this generation. I'm afraid for American Nintendo fans that they'll to suffer through that again with some other excellent game. The sad thing is, I imported a NTSC Wii at launch so I wouldn't have to live with bad release dates. And a few years later, the sides switched, and suddenly NoA was timid about releasing content that couldn't guarantee large sales while NoE embraced it.

    So now I own a PAL Wii U and 3DS. (Which is great, actually. Shibata's the coolest!) Can't wait for the tide to turn again!

    So, yeah. This is very important to me.
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  • Avatar for Keldorek #3 Keldorek 4 years ago
    @jonathanschnabel64 Contrary to popular belief, the DSi is not region locked. I play JP imports on mine all the time. This was incredibly widely reported and confused a lot of people. The eShop is locked though, of course.
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  • Avatar for Arrowned #4 Arrowned 4 years ago
    KAMEN RIDER LOVERS UNITE. I still boot up Super Climax Heroes every so often for kicks, though that whole process would've been much easier on me if the Wii hadn't been region-locked, again proving this article's point.
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  • Avatar for fourfour44 #5 fourfour44 4 years ago
    Well the first step to changing the policy is to get Nintendo to stop claiming that they must region lock their hardware due to "legal" reasons in various territories.
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  • Avatar for chaosyoshimage #6 chaosyoshimage 4 years ago
    The DSi itself isn't region locked for most DS games, but DSi and DSi-enhanced games (Along a few games like Sonic Classic Collection that just pretend to be DSi-enhanced) are region-locked. I think there might be a few non-region-locked DSi-enhanced games, but I'm not sure.
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  • Avatar for donmilliken #7 donmilliken 4 years ago
    @fourfour44 They've claimed this? It's news to me, but Sony and Microsoft's decision to go region free, not to mention the region free status of their pre-DSi handhelds, would seem to give the lie to such a claim.
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  • Avatar for bigdsweetz #8 bigdsweetz 4 years ago
    For me this would be great. I have family from Japan that brought their 3DS XL's over, but now they have to get new one's because of the region locks. So needless to say, we're not buying another one and we're not buying any more games. If they removed the region lock I know I could make Nintendo's Stock jump up by myself.
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