Nintendo has confirmed that its newly-announced DS handheld console revamp, the DSi, will not allow you to play games bought in other regions. The DSi features a camera, SD card slot, web browser and larger screens and launches in November in Japan and, according to the rumours, Spring 2009 in Europe.
The region lock, stopping Japanese DSi consoles playing European games etc. is only for DSi-specific games (cartridges or downloaded from the new “DSi Shop”), existing DS games will still be region-free. So why should gamers be up in arms about such a limited region lock?
1. We all suffer, not just the geeks – Quirky Japanese games like Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center may never have made it to the UK on DS if it wasn’t for publishers being very aware of their popularity on import. Localised, English-language versions of such games are costly to make – and it’s only when an import market is proven and demand (and hype) builds that we get a game most of us can read the text for. There will be loads of crazy, innovative Japanese games that use the new features of the DSi – but the region lock means it will be very difficult to prove any demand for them.
2. Control issues – A download shop systems, particularly with a region lock on, hands more control over to Nintendo. They decide pricing, which games get distributed in which regions and when. And they’re traditionally not very good at getting stuff to Europe very quickly…
3. Europe gets everything last – Apparently we’re set to get the DSi before the US does. But we’re still getting it well after Japan. And even that’s a rare instance of Nintendo (and most Japanese games companies) treating us with any respect. The history of videogames coming from Japan to Europe is one of delays, broken promises and poor conversions. Expect to wait a long time for popular DSi games to go from Japan to Europe.
4. No cheap/early consoles – Flying to Tokyo this Christmas? No point in picking up a DSi in Akibahara – it won’t play European DSi games when they launch. Ditto your 2009 Christmas New York dollar spending spree (not that you’ll have one if the credit crunch keeps going like this).
5. Different markets, different approaches – According to Nintendo: “DSi embeds net communication functionality within itself and we are intending to provide net services specifically tailored for each region”. Great – if history is anything to go by, while Nintendo fans in Japan will get some kind of all-singing, all-dancing iMode and iPhone-baiting service, European fans will have to input weird codes in just to play friends online.
Out Spring 2009 | £100 | Nintendo