Region locking annoyance

All Nintendo fans know: ever since the 3DS made it’s entrance, the system is region locked. And even before that, some games for the DSi had separate regions. I knew, that’s why I have three different 3DS’s (one for Europe, one for America and one for Japan): a lady has got to go to some lengths never to miss a game! What annoyed me though lately, is that playing with friends all over the world is region locked too. So I can’t play Story of Seasons on my American game with friends from Europe, or Zelda’s TriForce Heroes.

Somehow it was a pleasant surprise that the Amiibo were not region locked, neither where the Animal Crossing Amiibo Cards. But I realised this morning that more and more toys and collectibles that you can use in games are region locked. Did you know for instance that the YoKai Watch medals that can be placed in Hasbro’s YoKai Watch are region locked? That you cannot use the medals bought in Japan in an American toy watch, or American medals in an Australian toy watch?

While Sony and Microsoft have let go of region locking some time ago, Nintendo seems adamant to stay on this course. I mean, I’d have to go to some extra trouble but if I want to, I could download Japanese games on my Vita. But not with Nintendo, they claim it all has to do with protecting it’s customers, local customs and laws. The way I see it though it has everything to do with control: being able to control the prices and the market. Imagine if we gather all games that have been bought abroad by enthusiastic uncles or dads on a business trip and that couldn’t be played once their kids popped them in their 3DS at home in a big pile. I bet we’d be hard pressed to look over the pile, don’t you? I still remember my nieces’ enthusiastic text message that she’d bought Pokémon ORAS in America while on holiday. I had to pop the bubble of enthusiasm pretty quick, so she still had time to run back to the store to get her money back!nintendo, 3DS, error code, region lock

And you know what annoys me the most? The differences in release dates (though it’s been getting a bit better last year). You know, I get it that games have to be translated from Japanese, but by the time it’s set in English, then why not release it in Europe, Australia and America at the same time? For instance, look at YoKai Watch: released in America in November, it made it to Australia in December and still no date for Europe? The price differences were a major annoyance for me too, but they have levelled out, due to the Euro losing value in the exchange rate toward the USD and the GBP, so price differences have gotten smaller. Still, games in USD are still cheaper then in Euro’s!

Looking back at this little rant of mine: I’m one of the people supporting them in their region locking by buying three devices. Alright, guilty here…. I just hope that Nintendo will see that it’s much better PR if they would make their next system region free!


  1. I’m really hoping that NX is similar to ps3 where multiple accounts can be used on one system so I can use my Japanese and English NNID’s on my NX, doubt it’ll happen but you never know!

    1. I doubt it with you. I called Nintendo this week when I was pre-registering for the My Nintendo Account, if I could perhaps tie my three Nintendo ID’s to one My Nintendo Account. The guy had no idea, which usually means no!

  2. Region locking is so lame. Nintendo handhelds have previously not had these restrictions so I have no idea why they have now started when their competitors have scrapped the idea. It would be a non-issue if they released games simultaneously around the globe, but that seems to be a pipe dream. Waiting months with no indication of when a game is coming is very poor customer service.

    1. Agreed. And it seems to be getting worse, where the toys to use with the game, like in Yokai Watch, are now region locked too. And playing online is restricted to regions too. Crazy!

  3. We found the “region locking” applies to cell phones too. We ended up buying in toto (not on time like we do in the US) a cell phone in NZ which worked well for us in both NZ and AU). I guess this “locking” has to do with the different frequencies used by different countries. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an international frequency standard? I enjoyed your article, Yvonne! Hope all is well with you and family!

    1. Hey Gina, good to see you! Yep, all is well, I have your latest article in my mailbox waiting for a relaxing read! Can you imagine what it’s like in our small country? Every time we cross a border we can’t access internet anymore on our smartphone!

  4. Yeah, it’s a real pain. 3 3DSes… now that is serious dedication! Here’s hoping the practice goes away for good soon. I have to say I was amazed and delighted when I discovered how easy it is to get onto different region PSN stores with a PS3 (I assume it’s similar with the Vita), and there’s no region locking for downloadable games! It’s awesome.

    1. Yes, it seems to be very easy on the Vita. Haven’t done it yet, I am swamped in backlog as it is already. But still, it’s nice you can do it if you want. I do hope Nintendo will be wiser with their NX.

  5. I haven’t the faintest idea why the media has become more draconian in regards to region locking. Do they not advocate international socialization? What if a game only gets released in one Western region? The people who thought that region locking wasn’t strict enough clearly don’t have much in the way of foresight.

  6. I’m also guilty of criticizing region-locking while de facto supporting Nintendo by buying three separate systems, i.e. not putting my money where my mouth is! 😀 But I firmly decided that I will not invest in the NX if it turns out to be region-locked. Collecting for the 3DS was such a hassle that I’m really not ready to repeat the whole process for another system. That wouldn’t be such a loss anyway, I still have tons of DS, 3DS and GBA games to play!

    1. I may have to remind you when the time comes! It would be hard for me to chose between an American and a European system, so I’m not making any such promises yet!

  7. The different release dates are a bit odd. I’m sure there is a reason for staggering, but I can’t imagine it would matter for any releases that aren’t huge juggernauts.

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