An Open Letter is a regular-ish feature where we communicate directly, mano e mano, straight to the heart of someone/something/anything in gaming. This week? We're taking it to the news that the upcoming 3DS will be region coded. Why Nintendo WHY!
You know when you love someone - when you love them with that deep, unconditional love? When they've been part of your life for so long that losing them would be like losing an arm or a leg? That's the way we love you Nintendo.
Nintendo, if you were a dog, we'd feed you Pedigree Chum. We'd groom you. We'd take you to the Vet when something went wrong. We'd pet you constantly. We'd let you lick us on the face. We'd feed you bacon under the table. We'd walk you every day.
But despite that love - that unconditional love - that doesn't mean you can pee on the carpet - and Nintendo... putting region codes on the 3DS feels a lot like you just took a whizz on the living room carpet.
The 3DS looks incredible - I'm already in love, don't get me wrong - but the hits have been coming as of late. The battery issue we can take. The 3DS is a powerful machine, and we understand that rendering games in proper 3D takes its toll on battery life - we're prepared to take that bullet. We're even prepared to suck it up when you release a new version of the 3DS a year down the track with better battery life. Some of us will even buy it a second time - just as we did with the DS Lite, the DSi, and the DSi XL.
We can even take the slight delay - it's cool! The 3DS will be released in February in Japan, then a month later in Australia - we're okay with that. We're even fine with the fact that we'll probably have to pay that little bit more than, say, the US for the privilege (well, some of us are fine with that). We'll complain when it inevitably takes you a little longer to release games here, but eventually we'll forgive you, even though most publishers have moved on to simultaneous worldwide releases.
But Nintendo. Region coding? Again? Really?
Honestly, who is this serving? We understand the piracy issue. Piracy struck the DS market stone dead, especially in Europe. But let's get things straight here - if anything region coding will only encourage piracy. You're giving Homebrewers the excuse they need to start tinkering with the innard of your latest baby. It won't be long before the 3DS is hacked and then what? It'll be too late by then won't it.
Yes, importing is a problem for retailers - we also understand that issue. But the reason most are against region coding is because they want to buy games that won't be made available in Australia. And, again, we understand that some gamers will buy games overseas, but at least they're buying games in the first place!
Nintendo, I think that if you show your consumers a little respect in this regard, they may just give you some leeway. Look at Sony and the PS3 - at first they made their system so open that no-one even bothered to try and hack it properly. It was only when Sony removed options - such as the ability to install other Operating Systems - that hackers really got to work. Before then it was all hunky dory.
Region codes will only hurt you in the long term, and it makes things more difficult for the core consumers who have always supported you, even during your dalliances with the mainstream.
Nintendo we love you - that's unconditional - but please don't pee on the carpet.