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Iwata: Nintendo "must consider" ending region locking

An issue of great import.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has signalled a change in opinion for the company's long-standing policy of region-locking its consoles.

Miiverse social network features separate sections for different regions, where different games are available at different times.

Speaking during a recent Q&A session with investors, Iwata acknowledged for the first time that a move towards region-free consoles could be beneficial for Nintendo (thanks, NeoGAF).

"The game business has a history of taking a very long time with localisation among other things," Iwata said, "such as having to deal with various issues of marketing in each particular country, or games that have made use of licensed content that did not apply globally.

"Region-locking has existed due to circumstances on the sellers' side rather than for the sake of the customers. In the history of game consoles, that is the current situation.

"As for what should be done going forward, if unlocked for the benefit of the customers, there may also be a benefit for us."

Nintendo has always used region locks for its home consoles to limit the importing of software from different regions.

Handheld devices from the DSi onwards have also implemented region-locking, although physical games for the Game Boy and DS families were region-free.

Nintendo has been moving towards a global launch for many of its games (such as last year's Pokémon X and Y), but some titles still take a while to filter through to other regions. For example, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is out this month in Japan and next month in North America but will not arrive here in Europe until January.

Iwata concluded by stating that any change in policy would likely be some way off, but that it was something the company was considering.

"Unlocking would require various problems to be solved, so while I can't say today whether or not we intend to unlock, we realise that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future."

The Wii U is the only current-gen console with a region lock on physical games. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are region free.

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