Nintendo Wii U will be region locked

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The words “region locked” are often bad for game collectors or people who import games not available in their area. As someone who has imported games since childhood, seeing those words meant that I could not sample the wide array of games available for my consoles. A fair number of games were region-specific, mostly confined to the following regions: NTSC-U/C (USA and Canada), NTSC-J (Japan/Korea, rest of Asia), or PAL (Europe/Australia). The “region locked” thing also applies to movies as well. To solve the region lockout issue, one often had to use workarounds that involved either software, hardware (adding a special chip or removing the region lockout chip from your console’s hardware) or even both. I chose to add the special chip, and although it was expensive, it was well worth it, as you could now access the full library of games available for your console.

Nintendo announced that its upcoming system, the Wii U, will be region locked. Although this is no surprise as Nintendo has region locked all of its consoles dating back to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), software and hardware workarounds have always been available to bypass Nintendo’s region lockout technology. “What can be played on the Wii U is restricted by a region-lock feature; software not sold in the same region cannot be played,” Nintendo confirmed to Japanese gaming publication Famitsu.

By comparison, one of Nintendo’s competitors, Sony, has generally made their games region-free, which means you can play any game on any console. Microsoft has a similar policy to Nintendo’s when it comes to region lockout, but it is not as rigorous.