Nintendo President Satoru Iwata Reconsiders Region Locking

For a long time, console developers locked their consoles to specific regions, making it difficult or impossible for consumers who are interested in playing games from other countries to do just that. But, as times change, the practice has begun to vanish– except from Nintendo, whose two current consoles, the Wii U and 3DS, remain locked.

It looks like company president Satoru Iwata is starting to regret that a bit. In a Q&A tied to the company’s most recent financial reports for investors, it looks like Iwata’s very much into the idea of unlocking, because it’ll benefit everyone:

“The game business has a history of taking a very long time with localization among other things, such as having to deal with various issues of marketing in each particular country, or games that have made use of licensed content that did not apply globally, and had all kinds of circumstances, so to say, that region-locking has existed due to circumstances on the sellers’ side rather than for the sake of the customers. In the history of game consoles, that is the current situation.

As for what should be done going forward, if unlocked for the benefit of the customers, there may also be a benefit for us. Conversely, unlocking would require various problems to be solved, so while I can’t say today whether or not we intend to unlock, we realize that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future.”


Iwata explains that more than anything, the locking serves purpose to local retail more than it does to literally anyone else. The consumer is blocked off from enjoying games from other regions (want to play a game from Japan that may never make it overseas? You’re out of luck). The companies could also do well to unlock because perhaps then, the consumer can buy even more than before from them.

The Nintendo DS was unlocked and allowed people anywhere to play copies of games from anywhere else, so it was a shock to find the 3DS with the lock. Now, if anyone in the US wants to play a Japan-only title, they need to buy a Japanese 3DS. Hopefully, Iwata’s stance on region locking means good things for the future of Nintendo consoles. Everyone else has ditched the locks, and here’s hoping Nintendo follows suit.

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Jason Bree

Jason Bree

Residing in New York City (born and raised and what have you). Pretty into WWE. Pretty into some sports (gasp!). Really, really into cartoons. TV is cool. Comics are rad. Draws pretty okay. Has a 3DS and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. A contributor on [adult swim] Central, and occasional part of The Swimcast!