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By 4 July 2013 | Categories: news

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A new petition has been launched urging Nintendo to cease region blocking on its Wii U (review) and 3DS (review) systems. This come in the wake of the announcement at the recently held E3 that Sony’s forthcoming PS4 would be region free and, subsequently Microsoft’s reversal on the issue, which would see its Xbox One also abandoning the restrictive policy.

This leaves Nintendo in the unenviable position of lagging behind its competitors when it comes to allowing users to play games from whatever region they choose.

The petition, now on Change.org, has already garnered more than 17 000 signatures. Its justification  states that region locking is “restrictive to customers, including those who enjoy playing foreign games not available domestically, speak foreign languages, serve in the military, or otherwise travel or live abroad.”

Furthermore, the creator of the petition, Josh Stevens, asserts that “region-free policies encourage the additional sales of legitimate software that cannot otherwise be obtained in a given country; adding that the money would still go to Nintendo, the developers and the distributors behind each game.”

A soft touch and polite plea

Stevens doesn’t slam Nintendo over the issue, but rather commends the company for attempting to shorten the gap in release dates between different territories.

The petition continues that users don't want region-free consoles just so that they can purchase and play some games earlier than usual, but rather, “to exercise one’s consumer rights to choose what games users play and thus expand their horizons.” Thus, the company has been asked to release system firmware updates that would place it on parity with the PS4, PS3 and Xbox One with regards to region locking.

It’s a solid argument, and judging by the number of signatures it has already garnered (17 304 at present), a popular one.

Yes, but…

However, at present doesn’t look too likely that Nintendo will oblige, or at least, it would come as a pleasant surprise if it takes the petition to heart. IGN notes that during an interview with Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s global president, he had the following to say about the issue:

"There are many different regions around the world, and each region has its own cultural acceptance and legal restrictions, as well as different age ratings. There are always things that we’re required to do in each different region, which may go counter to the idea that players around the world want the freedom to play whatever they want. "

"I hope that game fans can understand that the industry isn’t doing this solely out of business ego, there are some reasons behind it," he continued.

To the point

The problem is, the question that Nintendo now faces is that if its competitors have managed to find a way around region locking, why can’t it?

With the next-gen console wars about to heat up, we suspect anything a console manufacturer can do to garner favour from its fans would be a wise move. Indeed, allowing region locking to fade into the sunset may just become an essential move for Nintendo to make to keep up with the imminent arrival of Sony and Microsoft’s latest.

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