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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.

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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