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An Alternative Opinion: Is Region Locking Good Or Bad?

 
An Alternative Opinion is a weekly feature where Alt:Mag writers are given a question or topic, and submit their thoughts and opinions. Today's topic of discussion is region locking: what does it mean? Why does it still exist? Is it a problem?

Aaron: Region locking. The most irritating, frustrating, simple problem that plagues the games industry. There are few things more annoying than seeing a game that looks fantastic, only to find out you can't play it in the country you live in. While it seemed region locking was finally becoming a thing of the past, Nintendo and Satoru Iwata have recently come under fire for still region locking the 3DS while the PS3 is region free, the 360 lets publishers decide and the next generation from these 2 will both be totally region free.
Region locking was a big factor of the previous generation, with the dreaded PAL region games, but fortunately it does seem for the most part that consoles are moving away from it. Of course, some "region locking" is actually not what it seems; it isn't that the games can't be played on systems in that country, it's often publishers that don't want to translate the game so it can be released in another country, leading to imports being necessary. Just a few days ago I saw a new Gundam game recently released that looked absolutely fantastic... just to find out it wasn't being released outside of Japan. The option is there for me to import it, but over £50 is somewhat pricey, and I can't read Japanese.
At the end of the day, I think region locking will go away, but the problem of games needing to be imported is something we'll have to put up with. Some publishers just aren't that interested in the Western market, which sucks for a JRPG fan like me, but who knows, maybe there's some hope that it will all change one day.


Lewis: When I was younger and I had a Game Boy Advance, then later a DS, I could always look forward to my Dad going to America on business trips to get me games on the cheap (because of the exchange rates of the time). In fact, my Game Boy Advance and my DS were both bought in America (charging your portable game consoles in the shaving socket anyone?). It was cheaper, convenient and it meant that on holiday you could buy new games to enjoy on your portable console. Now I have no idea why Nintendo thought it was a smart idea to make the 3DS a region locked console. What if a guy who owns one travels around a lot and doesn't have much time to go to his local video game store to get the new games? Imagine being in America and looking at all the great games coming out and wishing you could play them but you can't because you have a 3DS that is locked to the PAL region? Who wants to have to buy two 3DS systems so they can play games from different regions? No one does, that would suck the big one. Nintendo are more or less making consumers feel disadvantaged by where they live.
A game I am enjoying a lot at the moment is D2 on the Sega Dreamcast, but that game was never released in PAL regions, so I have had to buy the North American version, which only works if I use a Gameshark CDX, which allows me to play import games, but not every system has it this easy. I would be so gutted if playing import games on the Dreamcast was impossible, as it would mean that I'd miss out on such a gem of a game. It also sucks that most of the typically Japanese games don't get released in the West.
Older consoles are easy to mod or find import gaming peripherals for, but as gaming has progressed the companies are finding ways to make import gaming harder for everyone. However, the PS4 (as was the PS3) and the Xbox One are supposed to be region free and I personally think this is a positive move for gaming. We as consumers are allowed more freedom and choice with the games we play. Let's hope this is a sign of things to come in the future. Also, DVD companies need to stop being dicks too. Yeah, you heard me.



Josh: I feel that region Locking restricts us, whether it be games, DVDs or anything else. It’s not really helpful and it irritates fans due to specific regions receiving certain games and content while the others don’t. I for one get annoyed all the time that the Kingdom Hearts Final Mix’s are only available in Japan since they have so much extra content and stuff to see and do. In the world of DVDs, I also feel annoyed that not all the Pokémon movies are available yet in PAL regions although they are starting to come around. Even animes like Clannad and stuff are only available as a complete collection in Region 1 while we get DVDs that are divided up into volumes. I feel region locking is something highly unnecessary and the sooner it goes away the sooner all of us can enjoy certain media regardless of where we live in the world. 



So, what are your opinions on region locking? Does it have a purpose or is it just plain irritating? Do we need it or does it have a death that is long overdue? Let us know in the comments section below or by our Facebook or Twitter page.

 
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