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Iwata updates position on region-locking at Nintendo investor Q&A

Dunan

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Mar 6, 2010
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For example, what happens if they signed a contract with a company that supplies them with the current region-locking hardware/software? They probably can't just annul it without a fine that they would rather not pay.

They could pay that company for that software/code and then not use it. This kind of thing happens all the time when a publisher no longer wants or needs to publish something they previously thought they would need.
 

IceIpor

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Dec 15, 2005
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It's firmware. it's in software. It's just an excuse.
Supplied by a chip that manages security. Most likely signed on a contract that is very specific for its use.

Of course, that is only part one. What about agreement with distributors/stores that the product would be secure and region-locked? They could resign the deals, but it might be costly for them.

They could pay that company for that software/code and then not use it. This kind of thing happens all the time when a publisher no longer wants or needs to publish something they previously thought they would need.

Maybe they don't want to. Maybe they figured it wasn't cost effective.
 

yami4ct

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Aug 6, 2009
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Region-locking was optional on Xbox 360, leading to a huge mish-mash of titles that were region-free, some that weren't, and some that varied by region. In order to buy anything out-of-region, you had to refer to a giant compatibility list. It wasn't practical or convenient at all. I, for one, just stopped buying Xbox 360 games altogether and went with the region-free PS3 versions by default.

Region locking is clearly a business decision, not a consumer one. Also optional doesn't mean most will have it or a weird mishmash. Sony has optional Region Lock and P4A is the only game I've heard of that uses it. At least with optional region locking, many games won't be locked. If they want this option for business reasons, at least don't force it on everyone.
 

InsaneZero

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Jul 25, 2008
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I will never understand why they decided to region lock all games on 3DS instead of making it optional like Sony has done. Maybe something in the hardware makes it harder? Just didn't think about it? Optional region lock fixes most problems. Pubs that want it can have it and those that don't care can leave it off.

Nintendo introduced region-locking to their handhelds with the DSi (ignoring consoles for now since that's always been region-locked), which was also the first Nintendo handheld to have a digital storefront. I think they had either a misunderstanding of how localized digital stores worked or did not want to put in the effort of handling digital and physical games differently in terms of region. Just my guess.
 

toddhunter

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Apr 14, 2010
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I will never understand why they decided to region lock all games on 3DS instead of making it optional like Sony has done. Maybe something in the hardware makes it harder? Just didn't think about it? Optional region lock fixes most problems. Pubs that want it can have it and those that don't care can leave it off.

I figure it was from the same line of thinking that made a hand held that is uncomfortable to hold in your hands.
 

yami4ct

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Aug 6, 2009
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Nintendo introduced region-locking to their handhelds with the DSi (ignoring consoles for now since that's always been region-locked), which was also the first Nintendo handheld to have a digital storefront. I think they had either a misunderstanding of how localized digital stores worked or did not want to put in the effort of handling digital and physical games differently in terms of region. Just my guess.

I do think a lot of this has to do with nintendo having a hard time with modern console OSes, Storefronts and Online. Hopefully their new account relationship with DeNa helps sort this out for their next systems.
 

PirateKing

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Mar 11, 2013
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Essentially. They would have distribution deals stating they will region lock to preserve profit margins.

The best we can take out of this is that there is no real reason for them to have region locking. It also shows how all the people who have defended it over the years for some reason were completely and utterly wrong.

What? People were defending region locking?
 

Cheesemeister

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Feb 14, 2005
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Region locking is clearly a business decision, not a consumer one. Also optional doesn't mean most will have it or a weird mishmash. Sony has optional Region Lock and P4A is the only game I've heard of that uses it. At least with optional region locking, many games won't be locked. If they want this option for business reasons, at least don't force it on everyone.

Sony led the way by advertising the PS3 as region-free, turning Atlus into a pariah when it went and region-locked a game on a system that had until then been effectively region-free.
 

InsaneZero

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Jul 25, 2008
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Supplied by a chip that manages security. Most likely signed on a contract that is very specific for its use.

Of course, that is only part one. What about agreement with distributors/stores that the product would be secure and region-locked? They could resign the deals, but it might be costly for them.



Maybe they don't want to. Maybe they figured it wasn't cost effective.

You might want to stop showcasing your ignorance on how region locking works. A dedicated chip makes no sense even in theory.

Iwata's response does strike me as sincere, if only for the fact that he bothered to even suggest that Nintendo's region-locking practices was not consumer-friendly in the first place. Typically, Nintendo reframes their terrible decisions so that it appears to be for the consumers' benefit, so remarking otherwise (especially in a non-consumer-facing business meeting) is rather uncharacteristic of them. Although the proof would still lie in the pudding, and we still have to wait until next year at the earliest until we actually get to see it for ourselves.
 

Zalman

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I feel like we're getting closer every time he's asked this question, haha. Really awesome, sounds like they are likely to change it for NX.
 

IceIpor

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Dec 15, 2005
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I don't see how a special security chip would be needed to compare numbers representing region on the hardware and software.
I didn't say it was a special "security chip", just a chip that handles the security. It could just be the CPU for all we know, but it has a region-lock clause in its use.

I'm not saying that Nintendo shouldn't remove legion-locking (they shouldn't have included it in the first place.), but it's more akin to this...

Lets say you setup a special password system that incorporated numbers, symbols, capitals and letters requiring one of each and tell all your clients that this is what is going to happen. You sign very good contracts in your favour for the usage. You use it for 2 years.

After a while, you realize you don't need one of each. However, you're no longer as profitable as you once were.

Do you dare change it, even though you signed contracts with said companies already that this is what you were going to do? What happens if only a couple of them agree to it, and others demand other changes as well before signing? It would be pretty worthless to only have a couple of them to agree to the changes.

Maybe keeping status-quo would be the best solution? That's what Nintendo needs to analyze in these situations, and why lawyers are so hated (on both sides).
 

krypt0nian

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Jun 9, 2004
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Supplied by a chip that manages security. Most likely signed on a contract that is very specific for its use.

Of course, that is only part one. What about agreement with distributors/stores that the product would be secure and region-locked? They could resign the deals, but it might be costly for them.

Again, what specific deals? Until they are noted, they are again message board fodder. Don't assume there are those issues.

Modders have already shown this CAN be turned off. Firmware.
 

Wowfunhappy

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Jun 2, 2013
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Doesn't seem to be that much of an issue for 3DS modders...
Actually, it does cause problems in certain games. MM3D, for example, won't work with regionthree/four and probably never will.
 

Somnid

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Sounds good, I can't imagine they'll have much trouble with it so if they're sincere then I'd say this is a very good sign.
 

Sandfox

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Again, what specific deals? Until they are noted, they are again message board fodder. Don't assume there are those issues.

Modders have already shown this CAN be turned off. Firmware.

You're basically arguing that there are no issues despite Iwata saying otherwise. I don't see how you can tell others not to make assumptions when that's exactly what you're doing. The truth is that we don't know anything either way other than what Iwata stated in the quote.
 

Pokemaniac

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Mar 20, 2015
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I didn't say it was a special "security chip", just a chip that handles the security. It could just be the CPU for all we know, but it has a region-lock clause in its use.

I'm not saying that Nintendo shouldn't remove legion-locking (they shouldn't have included it in the first place.), but it's more akin to this...

Lets say you setup a special password system that incorporated numbers, symbols, capitals and letters requiring one of each and tell all your clients that this is what is going to happen. You sign very good contracts in your favour for the usage. You use it for 2 years.

After a while, you realize you don't need one of each. However, you're no longer as profitable as you once were.

Do you dare change it, even though you signed contracts with said companies already that this is what you were going to do? What happens if only a couple of them agree to it, and others demand other changes as well before signing? It would be pretty worthless to only have a couple of them to agree to the changes.

Maybe keeping status-quo would be the best solution? That's what Nintendo needs to analyze in these situations, and why lawyers are so hated (on both sides).

I'm fairly certain the region lock as it currently exists is just a simple check that the Home menu runs before it allows you to start software. Not disagreeing with your overall point of it actually being a contract issue, but just want to make it clear that it is just an if statement that is part of the current system software and is trivial to remove from a technical perspective.
 

krypt0nian

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You're basically arguing that there are no issues despite Iwata saying otherwise. I don't see how you can tell others not to make assumptions when that's exactly what you're doing. The truth is that we don't know anything either way other than what Iwata stated in the quote.

No I'm saying there are none until PROVEN otherwise. The onus of proof of policies are on the ones making such claims. I'm making zero assumptions of anything.
 

IceIpor

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Dec 15, 2005
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Again, what specific deals? Until they are noted, they are again message board fodder. Don't assume there are those issues.

Modders have already shown this CAN be turned off. Firmware.

Why would I know the deals? And what does that matter if I do? It only matters to Nintendo what deals they signed. As a consumer, you'd love them gone. However, that doesn't mean someone else isn't gaining from them being there.

Modders also removed that from CD/DVD drives back in the day. That doesn't mean there weren't "reasons" back then why they used them in the first place.
 

PdotMichael

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Feb 9, 2011
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Region-locking was optional on Xbox 360, leading to a huge mish-mash of titles that were region-free, some that weren't, and some that varied by region. In order to buy anything out-of-region, you had to refer to a giant compatibility list. It wasn't practical or convenient at all. I, for one, just stopped buying Xbox 360 games altogether and went with the region-free PS3 versions by default.

Well, region locking was the default setting for the 360. Getting a game region free was only possible if the game went through all green light processes in all regions.
 

InsaneZero

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Jul 25, 2008
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I didn't say it was a special "security chip", just a chip that handles the security. It could just be the CPU for all we know, but it has a region-lock clause in its use.

I'm not saying that Nintendo shouldn't remove legion-locking (they shouldn't have included it in the first place.), but it's more akin to this...

Lets say you setup a special password system that incorporated numbers, symbols, capitals and letters requiring one of each and tell all your clients that this is what is going to happen. You sign very good contracts in your favour for the usage. You use it for 2 years.

After a while, you realize you don't need one of each. However, you're no longer as profitable as you once were.

Do you dare change it, even though you signed contracts with said companies already that this is what you were going to do? What happens if only a couple of them agree to it, and others demand other changes as well before signing? It would be pretty worthless to only have a couple of them to agree to the changes.

Maybe keeping status-quo would be the best solution? That's what Nintendo needs to analyze in these situations, and why lawyers are so hated (on both sides).

Trying to argue how region-locking works would require that you have at least some rudimentary knowledge on how region-locking works.
 

Sandfox

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Jan 25, 2012
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No I'm saying there are none until PROVEN otherwise. The onus of proof of policies are on the ones making such claims. I'm making zero assumptions of anything.
You're claiming that Iwata is lying to investors based on the fact that he didn't go into detail about internal issues so...
 

IceIpor

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Dec 15, 2005
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Trying to argue how region-locking works would require that you have at least some rudimentary knowledge on how region-locking works.
And why would that matter in this case? Have you thought of any productive counter-arguments to what I've said? Or are you just hellbent on being insulting?
 

krypt0nian

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Why would I know the deals? And what does that matter if I do? It only matters to Nintendo what deals they signed. As a consumer, you'd love them gone. However, that doesn't mean someone else isn't gaining from them being there.

Modders also removed that from CD/DVD drives back in the day. That doesn't mean there weren't "reasons" back then why they used them in the first place.

Again there are no deals until we hear them say there are. You're just assuming still. I.E. message board fodder. Until someone shows proof to the contrary there are no deal.

Or unicorns. Or pixies. Or anything else people can assume.


You're claiming that Iwata is lying to investors based on the fact that he didn't go into detail about internal issues so...

No he said there may be issues. What are they? I never said he was lying. Issues could be "we want to make more money"

Again I assume nothing, but you're putting words in my mouth.
 

IceIpor

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Dec 15, 2005
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Again there are no deals until we hear them say there are. You're just assuming still. I.E. message board fodder. Until someone shows proof to the contrary there are no deal.

Or unicorns. Or pixies. Or anything else people can assume.
Right. So what we know then is...
There is region-locking. Iwata said there are reasons. He didn't say they were hardware reasons (I did/assumed.).

Anything beyond this is just discussion or conjecture why that might be. Or why can't they just turn it off.

I'm just trying to explain what reasons might exist. Not that they do.
You're arguing that they don't exist until Nintendo proves otherwise.

Is that it and all?
 

Halabane

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Feb 22, 2013
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Gotta love CEO speak.

This is the correct response to those quotes.

Because of course he was able to say something that sounded like yes but actually could also say no. So he gets some people off his butt but at the same time committing to nothing.

"Lets be positive going forward" Yes lets. I feel better.
 

InsaneZero

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Jul 25, 2008
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And why would that matter in this case? Have you thought of any productive counter-arguments to what I've said?

The problem with you trying to reason why Nintendo has implemented region-locking without having any understanding about how region-locking actually works is that it drags people into an unproductive conversation where you continue to elaborate on a guess that has no actual bearing on reality. You're doing this back and forth with people about how your analysis makes no sense and how you're trying to change it to make some sense which distracts from the stuff that is actually happening.
 

calc84maniac

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Jul 11, 2012
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I assume there would have to be some infrastructure revamps to allow certain things like downloading updates for physical games not on your eShop region, and other subtleties like that. This isn't an issue for modders because they don't go online.
 

Sandfox

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Jan 25, 2012
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Again I assume nothing, but you're putting words in my mouth.


No he said there may be issues.

A7: Iwata: Removing region-locking from current game machines presents various issues, so we don't consider that to be very realistic.

I never said he was lying.

No I'm saying there are none until PROVEN otherwise.
If I'm wrong I apologize, but that's what I saw.
 

fernoca

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Sep 17, 2006
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Yeah. The "issues" are not hardware related, as we know that it can be removed with a firmware update.

So it seems to imply that is more of legal issue, with a side of incompatibility (some games just don't work in some regions). Then add stuff like digital purchaces and DLC (i.e. like how you can't mix games and DLC from regions on PS3).

So, it's probably why it's better to just leave it as is on the current hardware. Who knows. Maybe they'll figure something out.
 

Madao

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they should at the very least let your machine access every country when making a NNID account. that way you can make an account for each region if they don't want to mix different regions' eshops.
 

Willy Wanka

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Aug 17, 2005
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"Maybes aye, maybes no". I'm expecting region locking to be part of their future hardware but hopefully they can surprise me.
 

InsaneZero

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This is the correct response to those quotes.

Because of course he was able to say something that sounded like yes but actually could also say no. So he gets some people off his butt but at the same time committing to nothing.

"Lets be positive going forward" Yes lets. I feel better.

This is in an investor's meeting for businesspeople, not a media interview for consumers. The target audience does not particularly care if Nintendo removes region lock. The original question that prompted this follow up did not demand one way or another for Nintendo to do something, but Iwata opened up this opportunity anyway. I highly doubt that he would actually do that if Nintendo wasn't seriously considering it.
 

Chaos17

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they should at the very least let your machine access every country when making a NNID account. that way you can make an account for each region if they don't want to mix different regions' eshops.

Origin is region locked unless you use a VPN :(
Or steam banned the transaction with Russians because Russians were trading cheap games for coins.
Some companies just don't want you to cheat on the conversion money.
 
Apr 27, 2011
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Okay, so you have games like Bayonetta or Assassin's Creed which are either fully third party or developed by an outside source. I can see the argument for legal issues there. But there is literally no issue with removing it from future releases and/or their own software. Again, it really is just a weak excuse and those whom take it at face value are just carrying water for the company.
 

D.Lo

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They added region locking because of piracy. It's another line of defence - if the system is cracked, maybe the region locking holds, leaving piracy in one territory.

This is all the way back to the SNES. All the region defence mechanisms (preventing cart converters from working) were primarily designed to stop game doctor disk copiers from working.

The DS got DESTROYED by piracy. You could buy R4s in stores openly in many countries, including fully first world Australia. It went from selling more software than any other platform in history to PSP level.

And the region locking FUCKING WORKED for a bit on 3DS. 3DS when first cracked was still stuck in-region.

So while it totally sucks hard, blame anyone who has ever pirated new release games. They're the thieving bastards that caused this.
 

Somnid

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Okay, so you have games like Bayonetta or Assassin's Creed which are either fully third party or developed by an outside source. I can see the argument for legal issues there. But there is literally no issue with removing it from future releases and/or their own software. Again, it really is just a weak excuse and those whom take it at face value are just carrying water for the company.

The old software still exists though and if they can't touch it, then then need to leave the old settings alone. You essentially go from a region filter to a region filter + whitelist for opt-in titles and then create some sort of header flag for region-lock free new titles. And then once you have your import copy of Xenoblade now you need to be able to switch the eShop to get that extra content. These are not insurmountable but they aren't likely to see many gains for that work. They painted themselves into that corner. Much easier to say, fuck it, and work from the ground up.