Wii U Will be Region-Locked,
It turns out the Wii U will be region-locked. Who knew?
Today Nintendo confirmed to CVG that their new home console will only play discs from the machine’s home region, meaning imports are out the window (for now). This comes as no big surprise, as most consoles, and certainly all Nintendo consoles, have been region-locked in the past. Recently Nintendo even region-locked their handhelds, with every DS after the DSi only playing local region titles. This leaves Sony the only bastion of import gaming with both the PS3 and PS Vita lacking regional restrictions.
Region-locking may seem like a cruel practice, but serves a purpose that many forget. Putting aside the legalities of age restricted good varying from one country to another, the main reason for region locking is to gather accurate sales data and make sure publishers don’t suffer from imports damaging sales. The reason developers and publishers need sales data is obvious and can affect if future releases even reach foreign shores, or even get made! Import sales damage is a bit more complicated.
Taking the example of Persona 4 Arena, European gamers are unfortunately left without this apparent beauty of a game with Atlus’ choice to region lock the game on both PS3 and Xbox. Now, while Persona 4 is great, the market over here for Atlus games could still be called “niche,” and these are usually the circles that would import the game. I know I did with Catherine. In Europe, it will be Zen United publishing P4A, a small company that previously published BlazBlue for European audiences. For Zen United, this is a big release and to have sales drop off due to gamers having imported the game could be disastrous.
So, while Nintendo may look like they are locking the machine just despite gamers all over the world, they are really doing something nice. That said, nice one Sony! Keep them consoles region free!