There have been reports for about a week on the NeoGAF forums about an email from Nintendo support stating that the 3DS would be region locked. Today, it’s been confirmed by Nintendo that these rumours are true.
In a statement to Eurogamer, Nintendo stated that the reason was largely due to network services tailored for each region. Also, there were considerations in terms of ratings and parental control compliance to take into account. Nintendo gave the standard line of giving the “best experience for (their) users”, which necessitated the region lock. However, Nintendo has stated that there is only the “possibility” that games wouldn’t work on non-regional systems, which is in line with the region locking seen on the DSi and means that it’s possible – stress that word – that some 3DS games will play on outside systems. However, Nintendo stresses that if you are in doubt, “Nintendo recommends that you only purchase Nintendo 3DS software in the region where (you) purchased your Nintendo 3DS system.”
Region locking is a sad reality of Nintendo’s increased focus on downloadable content to their handheld systems. Whereas before, downloadable play was limited to player vs. player action and downloadable content within a game. For example, I imported Fire Emblem: Shin Monshou no Nazo, and I am able to download the BS stages with no problems. However, Nintendo is selling full games to be downloaded now, and that creates a whole different set of issues, most of them relating to the rating system. Anything that would be downloadable from the Japanese store would have to be ESRB rated and vice versa for the CREO system, and that opens up multiple large-scale cans of worms. It’s different for the PlayStation because people who download things from the EU and Japan are doing it with accounts created – and Terms of Services accepted – with those regions in mind; in other words, you’re saying that you’re Japanese when you create a Japanese PSN account. Nintendo doesn’t have that – for God’s sake, they’re still using Friend Codes – so the best thing to do is have the option to lock things down. Since some games will use the 3DS to its full capabilities, those games will be region locked.
Sadly, this is a reality that I don’t see going away. And it also means I’m going to need to purchase two bloody systems.
The full statement to Eurogamer is under the cut.
“Nintendo 3DS hardware is available in three versions: Japanese, American and European/Australian. Nintendo has developed different versions of Nintendo 3DS hardware to take into account different languages, age rating requirements and parental control functionality, as well as to ensure compliance with local laws in each region,” a Nintendo statement explained.
“Nintendo 3DS also offers network services specifically tailored for each region.
“Additionally we want to ensure the best possible gaming experience for our users, and There is the possibility that Nintendo 3DS software sold in one region will not function properly when running on Nintendo 3DS hardware sold in another.”
“Guidance will appear on every packaging of Nintendo 3DS hardware and the accompanying software. If you are in doubt, Nintendo recommends that you only purchase Nintendo 3DS software in the region where purchased your Nintendo 3DS system.”