The New Nintendo 3DS Won't Be Region Free

We should have known. I think on some level we all knew, but now it has been confirmed: the New Nintendo 3DS will be region locked. Like every other Nintendo handheld. What a shame.

Gamespot confirmed the news with Nintendo.

I understand why a conservative company like Nintendo would region lock its consoles, I do. They want to maintain the ability to control prices from territory to territory. They need to be aware of cultural differences between regions and that impacts certain aspects of certain games.

But come on now. It's 2014.

The old PAL/NTSC distinction is old hat, gamers are used to global launches and — for goodness sake — these consoles are portable handhelds! They're designed to be taken overseas when travelling, or when moving countries. Why would Nintendo want to slow that cashflow? I use my handhelds more often when travelling. I think everyone does. Buying a new game whilst travelling in the US or Europe or Japan is cool. It's a fun discovery.

Such a shame that Nintendo is trying to curtail that.

And the worst part? It actually encourages piracy. There are games I want to play that won't get released over here. How am I going to play these games?


New Nintendo 3DS Will Be Region-Locked [Gamespot]


    Almost certainly because Nintendo is shameless when it comes to region pricing (and the fact their games retain their value so well).

    And agreed, Nintendo DS had rampant piracy and region locking didn't help.

      Correct me if I am wrong, but pretty sure the DS wasnt region locked

        The DS, DS Lite weren't region locked. The DSi was.

          Wasn't DSi only region locked for games that required the DSi? i.e. Games that could be used on the DS and DS Lite were still region free.

            Sort of. There's three kinds of DS games - regular DS games, DSi-enhanced games and DSi exclusive games. There were only like four exclusive ones, those were all region-locked. The enhanced ones though, they played fine on any DS but wouldn't work on an out-of-region DSi.

            Pretty sure, at least.

        Definitely not: got a lot of japanese games (OSU!) for my DS 6 years ago.
        Went back early this year with my 3DS. Didnt buy any games.

    Good point Mark!
    Legal question: if there is a game that I want to play such as Rune Factory 4, which is not being released in PAL Regions, is it still illegal to download and emulator and play it in those regions?

      If you are making a copy of the game without license, certainly. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement: there is no obligation for the copyright holder to sell their work to you in order for their work to have legal protection.

      If you've bought the game and using a handheld modded to play out of region games, that is probably also illegal now unfortunately. The US Free Trade Agreement signed by the Howard government harmonised our copyright laws with the DMCA, so region locks are considered to be technical protection measures for the copyrighted work and breaking them is a crime even if it is for the purpose of interoperability.

      Yes it's still illegal to pirate a game that isn't released in your region. Only when software becomes Abandonware or Public Domian can you legally copy and distribute at will.

        Note that "abandonware" is not a legal concept. Just because a copyright holder isn't selling their work right now doesn't mean that it becomes freely redistributable.

        They might plan to sell it down the line (e.g. via services like Nintendo's Virtual Console or compilation discs). Or they might want to keep new copies of the game off the market so as not to compete with their newer products. Both of those cases are hampered if people are distributing the game without license.

        The game is only legally in the public domain if the copyright holder renounces their rights in it (hardly ever happens) or the copyright expires (~ 90 years at the moment, so it is safe to assume that all game software is still under copyright).

          Pretty sure the copyright for software expires after 75 years, but apart from that yeah you're spot on.

            I was probably thinking of US laws when I said 90 years.

            It looks like 75 years is wrong too: -- the answer is probably 50 or 70 years after the author's death. I'm not sure how works where the copyright is held by a corporation fit into these laws though, since they are essentially immortal.

          When I say Abandonware I do literally mean the copyright holder has said download it if you want it. There are very very few games in this category, and just because a game is being freely distributed does not make it Abandonware.

      Illegal? Yes. Immoral? No.

      If they don't want us to give them our money for their games, well, they're not losing anything when we just take the fucking games. If they don't serve us properly they have no-one to blame but themselves.

      The Rune Factory 4 thing boggles my mind. Surely, somehow, they could just offer the already translated and released version digitally here? It is literally money being ignored. They'd have two or three sales in my household alone, since my kids both love it and I do too.

    You could always buy 3 3DS's and cart them around in your hand luggage as you travel the world. The answer doesn't have to be piracy :)

      Here's the thing: you shouldn't have to buy 3 seperate devices that all do the same thing and that's why people will resort to piracy.

        I suspect he was being facetious.

          Fair enough! I don't have the nose to pick up that sort of thing.

          Last edited 05/09/14 12:09 pm

        And yet the Howard government signed laws that allow companies to require you to do exactly that.

        It sucks, because Australia was in the process of reviewing its copyright laws at the time the Australia-US FTA was signed, and we could have had the right to circumvent protections for the purpose of interoperability (i.e. to let you play out of region films/games, rather than to enable piracy) enshrined in law if the recommendations from that review's findings had been accepted.

    Nintendo sucks.

    And I say that as someone who has Nintendo games taking up probably 3-4 spots in my top-ten all time favourites list.

    Everything they do outside of making (brilliant) games they do in a manner that’s either asshole behaviour or abject stupidity.
    Sometimes I really wish they’d just go 3rd party.

    Like every other Nintendo handheld.

    Come on, @markserrels.

      Yah, will be looking for a gameboy/gba/ds haul on my Akihabara visit ^__^ It is too bad I can't add 3ds to that though...

    While I didn't believe it at all, I still hoped it would be true. I mean surely there's no reason they couldn't just make the physical software region-free like it used to be and keep the eShop all locked up like they have it...

    Oh well. Bring on homebrew.

    Ugh. On one hand I was optimistic, but at least our worst case scenario is just the status quo.

    Speaking as someone who loves Atlus games this is a huge slap in the face. Its bad enough that Atlus doesn't publish games outside of Japan and the U.S, but to be forced to wait 6-12 months only to be charged full price for waiting that long. Some titles like Shin Megami Tensei 4 are taking over a year and is going to be E-shop only.

      Truly a terrible decision on Nintendos part, I'm in the same boat as crose, pre-ordered SMT4 probably over 18 months ago, only to get an email saying it's e-shop only in this region last month. Oh and rune factory 4 will never be released, even though those are some of my favourite games. This new console would have been a day one buy when it released here if they'd bother to get rid of the draconian price gouging measures, now it's just a buy at some point when it goes on sale item.

    Good news for those of us who were feeling all nostalgic for 1995. It's like going back in a time machine.

    I have a 3DS rom card, zuck my deek nintendo.

    Currently playing SMTIV on my US 3DS. Good times. As a lover of ATLUS stuff getting an AU model was never an option.

    Last edited 04/09/14 11:04 am

    The old PAL/NTSC distinction is old hat, gamers are used to global launches and — for goodness sake — these consoles are portable handhelds! They’re designed to be taken overseas when travelling, or when moving countries. Why would Nintendo want to slow that cashflow? I use my handhelds more often when travelling. I think everyone does. Buying a new game whilst travelling in the US or Europe or Japan is cool. It’s a fun discovery.
    This is a good point @markserrels. I got my first Game Boy, a Game Boy Pocket, in Canada, bought games back in Australia without any problems. I now live in Tokyo with a 3DS that I bought back in Australia and I can't buy anything here. I want to buy games here because I want to play games that can't be bought here (and I'm bilingual) but I can't. Nintendo are just losing money from a lot of potential overseas customers.

    On the other hand, I'm quite happy with my PS Vita. I import games from back in Australia and buy games here locally. The only problem I have with my PS Vita is that it's locked to one accounts so I can't use my Japanese PSN account. They need to get rid of this lock ASAP.

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