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Portables (Games) Entertainment Games

Nintendo DSi Software Will Be Region Locked 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-import dept.
aliquis writes with news that software made for the recently announced Nintendo DSi will be region-locked. Nintendo's reasoning is that the DSi "embeds net communication functionality within itself and we are intending to provide net services specifically tailored for each region." It's also been discovered that accounts with the DSi's online store won't be linked with the Wii store, so points for one won't work with the other. Nintendo has stated that they don't intend for digital distribution to replace retail sales. We discussed the DSi's announcement last week.
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Nintendo DSi Software Will Be Region Locked

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  • The more I hear about the DSi, the less I'm interested in it. I think I'll hang on to my DS Lite.
    • My first experience with region locking was with the PS/2 (purchased in Japan and unable to run games from anywhere else). Never again. Never.

      What a stupid idea. Stupid!

      I can't buy my wife most video players for sale in the US for the same reason.

      • by blackicye (760472)

        My first experience with region locking was with the PS/2 (purchased in Japan and unable to run games from anywhere else). Never again. Never.

        What a stupid idea. Stupid!

        I can't buy my wife most video players for sale in the US for the same reason.

        Ironically of the present generation of consoles, only the Sony PS3 is region free. By virtue of running on Bluray disks.

        I guess the PSP and NDS are also region free if you want to count hand helds.

        • by robosmurf (33876) *

          Blu-ray has nothing to do with the PS3 being region free. Blu-ray movies can be (and often, but not alway, are) region coded.

          PS3 games however don't seem to be region coded.

          Xbox 360 games are not necessarily region coded either, though most are.

          • by blackicye (760472)

            Blu-ray has nothing to do with the PS3 being region free. Blu-ray movies can be (and often, but not alway, are) region coded.

            PS3 games however don't seem to be region coded.

            Xbox 360 games are not necessarily region coded either, though most are.

            Ah yes, I was referring more to the games specifically as far as all Bluray games not being region coded. A majority of the games are released either for US only or for Japan only if they are not distributed worldwide.

            For the movies, seeing as Japan and the USA are now in the same region, this region coding is effectively meaningless to us.

            I believe a vast majority of the complaints from the previous generations of region coding stemmed mainly from the inability to play Japanese Media in the US, and US medi

      • If you're only buying games from the US and Japan for use in one of those two countries, then yeah, region locking would be annoying. But if you're living in one of those two and trying to buy games from the rest of the world, even if your console could play them, they probably wouldn't display on your NTSC TV.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by KDR_11k (778916)

          Well, the world is divided into three territories for game marketing purposes, US, Japan, PAL. You won't import PAL games anyway since they always get released last, cost the most and get the fewest games anyway (most importers carry almost no PAL games). Importing from Japan or the US is more likely and those both use NTSC, if you're in the PAL region (which gives the most incentive to import) that doesn't matter either since most PAL TVs do NTSC too (the PS2 can even output NTSC with most PAL games to get

      • by Selivanow (82869)

        That is why I like the Philips players that are DivX capable. You can unlock most if not all and they will convert PAL, SECAM to NTSC on the fly...with pretty good results (although not perfect at times).

    • Re:Disappointing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @12:29AM (#25295877) Homepage

      yea, this is a pretty disappointing announcement.

      However, Nintendo told Eurogamer this afternoon that DSi is region-locked "because DSi embeds net communication functionality within itself and we are intending to provide net services specifically tailored for each region".
      "Also because we are including parental control functionality for Nintendo DSi and each region has its unique age limit made by different independent bodies."
      The good news is that this only applies to software that is compatible exclusively with the DSi, and that existing DS software remains region-free.

      that makes no sense at all. region-locking isn't required for providing region-specific online services. even without region locks you can still have different region releases connect to different online servers. and even with region locks you can still import a Japanese DS and use it in the U.S. to connect to Japanese services.

      the parental controls argument is also completely nonsense. there's no need to stop adult gamers from playing import titles just so a U.S. parent can control what games their child plays. if they're worried about conflicting rating (censorship) standards they can just add an option in the parental controls which lets parents region-lock that particular machine. what is so hard about that? and if the region-locking only affects DSi-specific games then kids will still be able to play games without parental controls. so what's the point of all this?

      this whole DSi thing seems like a really dick move by Nintendo. not only are they confirming that the DS/Lite will be obsolete and unable to play many new releases (just 2 years after the DS Lite was launched), but they're also needlessly restricting consumer freedoms.

    • by RogueyWon (735973) *

      I won't be buying one on the basis of this announcement. I travel between the UK and US several times a year and I always take both my DS and my PSP with me. The great thing is that, if I decide I need a new game for the flight, I can buy one at either end of the journey. My DS and PSP games are basically an even split of US and UK games. For me, a region-locked handheld is useless.

      It matters slightly less on the full-sized consoles, but even there, I've benefitted greatly from the lack of region locking on

  • by Haoie (1277294) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @08:35PM (#25294207) Homepage

    Unless someone invents a workaround.

    And that's bound to happen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr. Roadkill (731328)

      I give it six months from release, tops, before someone manages to load homebrew on it - and another three at most before a way of loading dumps of commercial games and patching around the region locking in them is found. Then, maybe 12 months at most before flashcarts for it become mass-market items that any idiot can use.

      If we're looking at ONLY a way to work around the region locking, I'd expect an outboard device in less than three months from release.

      With a built-in SD slot this thing is going to be GR

    • by Sparton (1358159) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @08:56PM (#25294323)
      Wrong. From the Gamasutra article that also reported on this (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=20525):

      The DSi, however, will be able to play standard Nintendo software from any region, similar to the original Nintendo DS model and the Nintendo DS Lite.

      The article is only partly right; the region-free aspect is only going to happen for games. Whatever new shenanigans they come up with for the DSi is what will be region locked.

  • Sounds like something Sony would do. I guess once you have a near monopoly on handheld gaming devices (apart from phones) you can do what you will
    • by Trogre (513942) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:11PM (#25294431) Homepage

      It also sounds a lot like something Nintendo would do:

      The Nintendo Wii has region locking, and many games (such as Zelda) use it.
      The Nintendo Gamecube and SNES also had region locking, though more primitive.
      The Sony PSP supports region locking of UMD movies and games, but no games are locked.
      The Sony PS3 supports some degree of region locking for games, but no games are locked.

      (Please someone correct me if I'm wrong about any of these)

      • No, that's about correct. And the region locking (that is apparently optional) on Blu-Ray puts us and Japan in the same region, apparently... but nothing's using it so far (no telling when it will happen, but at least it's not yet that I'm aware of...)

        Nintendo dangled the carrot for Wii being region-free, then abruptly said "our bad.. it's locked."

        Now they want to retroactively lock their handhelds. Bleh.
        • Many Fox Blu-Ray discs use region coding, but I think that most of the other studios have managed to stay back from that so far.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Correct. All of Nintendo's home consoles (NES, SNES, N64, GCN, Wii) have had region locking. Only their Gameboy line and the DS have lacked it.
        • I actually don't think the NES and SNES were region locked per say. At least not intentionally.

          The hardware between the FC and the NES was very different. The cartriges had a different amount of pins, meaning games had to literally be ported. The lock out chip (famous for creating the blinking power light and yellow screen) wasn't made to create separate regions, it was created to keep cheap/pirated games off of the market. The last revision of the NES removed the lock out chip functionality from the

          • by pizzach (1011925)

            I was a little off on the description of the FC. The controllers had a microphone on them, not a speaker. Also, there were volume controls on the controllers.

            I wish I could find a picture of the original NES design that had failed. But at least wikipedia mentions it in their NES article under the title "Original chassis/casing". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_Entertainment_System [wikipedia.org]

            • The "original chassis/casing" described in that article is not the one that failed, but rather the extremely common one that most people think of when they think of the NES (and that's pictured at the top of the article).
              • by pizzach (1011925)
                I'm going to quote part of the Wikipedia article for other people so they don't get lost.

                The original version of the North American NES used a radically different design. The NES's color scheme was two different shades of gray, with black trim. The top-loading cartridge slot was replaced with a front-loading mechanism.

                Emphasis mine. The side loader is commonly thought of by the general public as the original design, which is making this explanation difficult. Even Nintendo nowadays refers to it as the original. On top of that, the internet seems to have very little written about this topic either. Maybe "pre-NES" or "NES zero" would be a better term.

                I think I originally stumbled on this information from an issue of Nintendo Pow

                • The "radical difference" it's talking about is relative to the Famicom design, not to a failed NES design.
                  • by pizzach (1011925)
                    You're right, thanks for pointing that out. I was searching for something and I misread the comparison. It's really bugging me that I can't find any references to do some fact checking against.
                  • by pizzach (1011925)
                    It might have been this picture [gamespy.com] or this picture [boingboing.net] that I had saw in Nintendo Power. They are likely both versions of the Nintendo Advanced Video System. It was prototype, so it didn't go on sale anywhere.

                    Encouraged by their success in Japan, Nintendo turned it's eye to America. Rather then try to sell in a market they were not familiar with, Nintendo attempted to negotiate a distribution deal with Atari. The Famicom was to be released under the name "Nintendo Enhanced Video System." However, the deal fell through. Later plans to release the console under the name "Nintendo Advanced Video System" never materialized. The Nintendo Advanced Video System was to include a keyboard, a cassette recorder, a joystick, and a BASIC cartridge.

                    Meh. I'm never going to find the original Nintendo Power article, but this is good enough.

                    • Interesting concept—thanks for taking the time to dig up more on it! It's like the bastard child of the NES and an Atari 400. *grins*

                      (It actually is cited briefly in the NES Wikipedia article, in the History section. But, as the other sources said, it wasn't really a failure, just a product that never got made.)

                      On the other hand, I think that I'm glad that they went with the NES instead; the AVS would have been just another computer in a marketplace already oversaturated with them.

                    • by pizzach (1011925)
                      No prob. One of the fun things about making a long post that 6 different people respond to is the learning part. I'm happy the NES turned out the way it did too.
          • by Megane (129182)

            The lock out chip (famous for creating the blinking power light and yellow screen) wasn't made to create separate regions, it was created to keep cheap/pirated games off of the market.

            Then why did they have a version of the chip for the EU market, which used a different code than the US chip? I seem to recall reading that four different lockout chips were made, one of which was for a 10-game hotel room system.

            • by pizzach (1011925)
              I didn't know about the different versions of the lock out chip, thanks. I left out the European market because of the Pal difference, and I am not sure exactly how it effects compatibility. The Vblank timing difference did weird things to games so that separate versions had to be released anyway? Or did the game makers just let their games run 2-3x slower? The NES in the US and Europe also had slightly different CPU speeds.
              • The common method was just to reduce the timing, meaning that games would run 17% slower than usual. For Final Fantasy VII for example, the actual play time was stretched, so if the game clock says you've been playing for 50 hours, it was in actual fact 60.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ProppaT (557551)

            And even the N64 wasn't much of a region lock. You could either:

            a) Buy the adapter for $10

            b) Be cheap and get a needlenose pliers and/or a soldering iron to pull out the notch next to the connector in the console (or modify the case of the game itself if you really wanted to).

            I know it only took me about 5 minutes and I was playing my import copy of Goemon 64 :)

      • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzach AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @10:25PM (#25294989) Homepage

        Your right in that Nintendo seems to be on a general path to region locking and Sony seems to be doing the opposite. Regardless, the DSi issue especially is a shock to many because the time to pull a switch like that would have been when the original DS was released. Changing their policies mid-game feels a bit cheap.

        One thing that I want to point out is that in a few spots the region locking was differing hardware/features. Usually the actually region locking was ridiculously light otherwise. There was no game of making modchips that had to use stealth modes not to get caught.

        • The Famicon had some extra pins in the cartriges that some developers used to develop better sound in their games, making them incompatible in the US. Also, the Famicon, much like the Wii, had speakers in the controllers. The two systems in many ways were totally different consoles.
        • Japanese games would fit into a SNES console and work with no problems whatsoever. The reverse was not possible because SNES cartridges are much larger than SFC cartridges.
        • The N64 employed slightly different tab placement that the notches on the bottom of the cartridges fit into. Break the tabs, and you have a non region locked console. This struck me as the first obvious attempt at enforcing regioning.
        • The region on the GameCube was determined by a single wire being grounded on the circuit board. No need for any special chips like other consoles. What was a huge annoyance as the memory cards using different formats. This would mean Japanese games would attempt to format American formatted memory cards and vice-versa. Was this also a form of region locking? Maybe...
        • I know nothing about the Wii as I don't own one.

        I don't own a PSX either, but I do have one PSX-J game. I play it on an emulator because I would rather not have to buy a Japanese PSX. It'll be the same for the PS2 when I get fast enough of a computer. The PS3 was pleasant a surprise after those two. But still, Sony isn't too innocent with their PSP firmware race and blu-ray video regions. They are just the good guys right now. Are PSP movies regioned too?

        In the end, most games are licensed for sale and usage in their specific regions. Until the big three stop putting that ridiculous label on everything, I will stay weary of all three. (If I was wrong somewhere in this post, someone please correct me.)

        • by SL Baur (19540)

          I will stay weary of all three.

          I was weary a long time ago. Maybe it's time to go to bed. Perhaps you meant "wary"?

          (If I was wrong somewhere in this post, someone please correct me.)

          No problem.

          -Your friendly local spelling and grammar nazi

      • by marcansoft (727665) <hector@@@marcansoft...com> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @01:26AM (#25296221) Homepage

        The Wii is not only region locked - it's technically mandatory. There is no "unlock" bit on games. You can pick a region or have the game not play at all.

        For VC games / channels this is different - there's a code for "region free".

        Of course, if they ever decide to release region free games, they could release a firmware update. But you'd have to install that update via the internet, because the game itself wouldn't even load to the point of installing its bundled updates.

  • by R4nneko (1194727) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @08:39PM (#25294225)
    Regionally tailored content I can understand, but you could:
    Just do a check on the region, and have a default if you have no content tailored for that region

    Region locking is especially painful when it comes to portable devices. When I travel, one of the advantages of a DS is that if I see a game I am interested in, I know I can buy it and play it regardless of where I bought my DS.

    All I can say is that this greatly reduces my enthusiasm for the device as it becomes more clear that Nintendo want to keep the region restrictions that allow the crazy price variations viable. In Australia it is still cheaper to buy a console and games from the US and pay shipping than buying them from the actual storefront.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by philspear (1142299)

      Exactly! Why the $#@) would nintendo switch over to the Dark Side on this issue now?!? I bought the original DS shortly after launch and bought a lite a few years later and this is how nintendo rewards me? While traveling international it's great as is, there are also some great games that won't be released in other countries due to licensing and "they won't be that into it" reasons. Electroplankton, jump superstars...

      The one -potential- justification I could see is the piracy that goes on, they sell ca

      • by aliquis (678370)

        Well, the original NDS isn't region locked and I doubt they won't to ignore the what? 50+ millions? of those sold. So most titles will still be ok. And since we probably don't know all about what kind of software it will run I think it's a little to early to get upset because maybe it won't matter much. Time will tell.

      • by SL Baur (19540)

        The one -potential- justification I could see is the piracy that goes on, they sell cartridges that allow you to download and store any DS games you want onto a flash-based system apperantly. Region locking might cut down on that... for a day or two.

        Nope, not even that.

        The piracy going on has to do with people selling Nintendo game cartridges as genuine, except with counterfeit parts, etc. At least that's the piracy that bit me and I never expected shrink wrapped Nintendo-labeled cartridges to be a problem.

        There is NO justification for region lockout. None.

        • Peter Pan (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027)

          There is NO justification for region lockout. None.

          Say you develop a video game based on a book. Copyright in the book has expired in your region, but the copyright still subsists in another major market. You do not want to be sued in the other market for copyright infringement. So you region-lock your product to reduce your exposure to copyright lawsuits.

          Case in point: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Barrie wrote the novel Peter and Wendy in 1911 and willed the copyright to Great Ormond Street Hospital. The United States copyright expired in the 1960s under t

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      Region locking is especially painful when it comes to portable devices. When I travel, one of the advantages of a DS is that if I see a game I am interested in, I know I can buy it and play it regardless of where I bought my DS.

      It's painful in any kind of device. It is, or should be, well known that Japan gets the first and best of anything and many of us like practicing our Japanese while gaming or just playing the original version of a game.

      Of the cartridges I have for GBA, they are divided up into stuff I bought in Japan, stuff I bought in Singapore, stuff I bought at home (which are sadly all counterfeit pirates and now broken - I'm stupid and dense sometimes) and stuff I bought in the US.

      I think I'll try to get his & he

      • ...Japan gets the first and best of anything...

        We turn around and do the same thing to them though. Guitar hero 3 without the guitar apperantly is going to go on sale for the first time tomorrow in japan, and the package with the guitar only came out in march, about 5 months after it was released over here.

        Unfortunately, everyone often does it to australia.

  • One of the most innovative games I have for the DS, Electroplankton was import-only because the distributors though Americans wouldn't like it.

  • Bad move (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dracil (732975)
    Well there goes any intention I had of upgrading. I have many import games. I also have many domestic games. I am not going to get two DSis just to play them all.
  • Pandora FTW (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @08:56PM (#25294329) Homepage Journal

    Yet another reason I cannot wait to get my hands on Pandora [openpandora.org]. My primary gaming handheld is currently a GP2X [wikipedia.org], but I am starting to outgrow it for non-gaming purposes.

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Not that it will get that many good commercial titles that region lock would make a difference anyway ...

      Little homebrew is region locked =P, though still hacked in so to speak.

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      Hey... If someone can figure out a way for me to check my WoW auctions, run a few dailies, etc on this, I'd probably buy one.

      My laptop is a fine platform for gaming, but it requires a surface to set the machine on, and one for the mouse. In the break room at lunch, it takes up a LOT of space, and draws a lot of attention...

  • Nintendo's just too concerned with their profits to actually care about our needs. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the games they make (DK Jungle Beat, Wind Waker, every Metroid game, anything really that's 1st/2nd party), but I just hate the way their company's ran. Exhibit A: Nintendo absolutely hates piracy. They'll do whatever it takes to stop people from pirating games, such as trying to block homebrew (if you don't remember they tried to block the twilight hack, and removing the GBA slot can only mean the
    • I don't know why this got modded down, but it is spot on. Nintendo got my ire when they tried to halt the Game Genie way back when. It was arrogant... but their games are still fun. Just like Sony's games are fun, though their other arms (non-gaming) can be infuriating... (their games division less so, but still possible.)

      But I suppose the lesson here is that the games are what counts... but no matter how great its games are, a company should never take the goodwill of their customers for granted.
    • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:58PM (#25294809) Homepage

      Except the flashcarts uses the NDS-slot now adays. so this won't stop them. And if it would be as easy as just blocking a key or something such it would probably have been done by now. So I don't see how removing the GBA slot will stop the current piracy alternatives. It will also break a few utilities.

      I think it was an issue with size.

      Built in ram, bigger screens, SD-card reader, smaller size, something had to go, GBA-slot did.

      Also maybe they want to sell GBA games as downloads to SD-card, which don't seem all that weird.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by neokushan (932374)

        The DS is basically a GBA "with extra bits". Kinda like the Wii is an overclocked Gamecube with a few chips thrown in (Bluetooth, wifi, etc.). Even though the GBA slot on the DSi may be missing, the hardware is still there so it could easily play GBA games if it simply had access to them. I'm betting you're spot on about the SD card thing, or more than likely, downloadable titles that are probably little more than repackaged ROM files.
        I give it a few months before someone has any ol' GBA Rom working on this

        • by BenoitRen (998927)

          Kinda like the Wii is an overclocked Gamecube with a few chips thrown in (Bluetooth, wifi, etc.).

          The Wii is not an overclocked GameCube. Stop kidding yourself. It's just compatible with the architecture of the GameCube.

          • by neokushan (932374) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:54AM (#25298913)

            It's technically neither and both - of course they didn't just get some leftover Gamecubes and up the clock speeds in them, but it's closer to being an "Overclocked gamecube" than simply being compatible with the Gamecube. It's not literally overclocked, but the processors inside are of the same type as in the Gamecube, just clocked slightly higher. Go have a read here [newsweek.com] if you don't believe me:

            Hollywood, the Wii's GPU, also contains the southbridge and a DSP for audio processing. It is based on the GameCube's GPU, Flipper, and has no notable increases in programmability. However, it is clocked 50 percent higher (243Mhz versus 162Mhz). Most of the chip remains unchanged; for example, it still sports the same 3.1MB of embedded memory, distributed into separate pools for the frame buffer and textures. Similar to Flipper, Hollywood still sports a fixed-function pipeline, with no programmable vertex shaders. However, like in the GameCube, it is possible to emulate some pixel shaders by using "texture environment stages (TEVs)."

            I've worked with the Wii on a professional level, Nintendo's OWN programming guidelines literally say something like "Develop your game as if it were a Gamecube game, then add in some nicer effects for polish". I'll dig out the manual if you still don't believe me.

            • by BenoitRen (998927)

              The source you linked got its info from unofficial sources. The part you quoted talks about the GPU, not the CPU. Clock speed isn't everything either.

              The Wii's CPU is left-over junk from the same line of CPUs born from the multi-core research conducted by IBM, funded by Apple and Sony, which the Xenon and Cell were also born from. It was customised to be compatible with the GameCube's Gekko.

              The CPU chipset was vastly enhanced, and the motherboard is completely different.

              I know Nintendo's documentation says

            • I'm not really knowledgable of the subject, which is why I ask: Is this really anyway different from the technical advances made in PC architecture on a regular basis?

              • by neokushan (932374)

                In a way, yes and no. Although Intels latest processors may use the same instruction set and such as the good ol' Pentium one (or any x86 processor), the actual design itself varies quite considerably between each revision. Even inside certain lines (such as pentium 4) there can be some considerable differences.

          • by aliquis (678370)

            But basicly it is. Just a little higher clock, more VRAM and new controllers.

            • by BenoitRen (998927)

              Read my other comment. Different CPU, just compatible. Better graphics chipset. Totally different motherboard.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by supersloshy (1273442)
      Alright how was that modded trolling, yet someone who AGREES with me gets a 2? Trolling is going onto a sony forum and saying "xbox sux" and other noobish stuff for no good reason. This, however is just saying that I don't like Nintendo's way of doing things, and actually stating my facts! What'd I do wrong, can someone explain it to me?
    • i agree with you, but Sony isn't much better. the console i own at the moment is a PSP, and i love it to death, but Sony is just as rabidly greedy and anti-consumer as Nintendo.

      the PSP has gotten god knows how many firmware updates, and few of them add any value to the system. they were all pretty much put out just to break compatibility with CFW/homebrew. the PSP is such a powerful piece of hardware, yet there's no (official) software to take advantage of it.

      for instance, the PSP's built-in media player do

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SL Baur (19540)

      Unfair moderation!

      Exhibit A: Nintendo absolutely hates piracy.

      As well they should be. Piracy is a problem ... in Asia. Worse, at least in the Philippines it is hurting their reputation because the shrink wrapped pirate crap being sold under their name is just that - crap and breaks almost immediately.

      Is there anyone here who seriously believes that someone should be encouraged to sell crap under someone else's name and be able get away with it? Really?

      • by Mr2001 (90979)

        Is there anyone here who seriously believes that someone should be encouraged to sell crap under someone else's name and be able get away with it? Really?

        No, but that's a trademark issue, not a copyright (piracy) issue.

        Let the crap-mongers sell whatever crap they want under their own names. If they fraudulently use someone else's name, we can solve that problem in court, not in hardware.

    • Of course they want to stop pirating. Nintendo has been one of the most fair companies when it comes to their portables and allowing people to play imports.

      However there is rampant piracy with the DS. It's far too easy to buy multi-game paks from China rather than buying the real item and no matter what you may think that is wrong and should be stopped.

      Removing the GBA cart won't stop ds hacking. There is no real use for to continue the GBA slot when GBA games aren't really made and they will continue
      • by TheLink (130905)
        But region locking has little to do with preventing copying. The copy might also end up region locked, but it's still a copy :).

        Region locking is all about market segmentation and control in the hopes of more $$$.

        I doubt that you _MUST_ be online to play most of those games (e.g. MMORPG), so someone might remove the online checking bits and voila the "Unauthorized" version will then have one advantage over the "original".
        • There is no doubt that it won't stop piracy but anyone can pirate DS games. Where as, for instance with the Gameboy, people also pirated games but you couldn't easily do it.

          That's what annoyed me when shops start using piracy as an excuse to not allow games returns. It's not something the average person does with cart based games. It would be 10 times easier to get the roms online rather than buying the game, making your own duplication cable, etc.

          But with the DS I've even heard uneducated jobless dou
    • by BenoitRen (998927)

      Exhibit A: Nintendo absolutely hates piracy.

      So do Sony and Microsoft. Have you already forgotten all the firmware upgrades on Sony's PSP intended to block homebrew?

      They can do with their consoles what they like. It's not like piracy is a good thing for their business, and it's expected they will do what they can to stop it.

      Exhibit B: Nintendo always says things are "impossible" so they can earn more money. Take, for example, the DVD incident.

      I'll give you that. Business as always.

      Exhibit C: Their business

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      The irony of saying Sony is a shining example of what you should do is not lost on me. Sony is just as bad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      Nintendo said that "it would require more than a firmware upgrade to play DVD's", and that they'd sell a Wii that could play DVD's for more money. However, some hackers found out that the Wii disc drive CAN actually play DVD's and made some homebrew to get it working.

      Does the hackers' method license the CSS trade secrets, Macrovision patents, MPEG-2 decoder patents, Dolby Digital decoder patents, and other patents or trade secrets involved in DVD-Video playback? If not, then it isn't an authorized DVD player.

    • by BenoitRen (998927)

      I got more information as an addendum to my previous comment.

      Nintendo never said that the Wii couldn't play DVDs. They said they couldn't let it because of licensing issues. However, they promised that you would be able to enable it if you bought the right with Wii points. They just never followed up on that.

      As for Gunpei Yokoi, he did contribute to the development of the Game Boy Advance.

      • Just to clarify: although the GBA was only released in 2001 long after Yokoi's death, work on the system had begun much much earlier. A quite accurate description of the hardware was leaked in 1996.
        But Nintendo decided to release the GameBoy Color which was basically a beefed up GameBoy with a color screen. Because of the success of the system together with the Pokémon games, Nintendo decided to push back the GBA.

    • A: Nintendo absolutely hates piracy.

      As any software company should and would. While it is regrettable that homebrew developers get caught up in the mess, you can't blame them for protecting the haert of their business.

      B:

      We all knew that the Wii *could* play DVDs all along. Thing is, does it make sense to? Nintendo never said they would make it play DVDs, and personally I see no reason to.

      Exhibit C: Their business practices are kinda mean. I mean just look at what they did with Gunpei Yokoi! Not only was it their fault the Virtual Boy was a failure but they didn't even give him a second chance.

      It was actually Yokoi that left Nintendo. Very little is known of internal disputes at Nintendo, so it's probably best not to jump to conclusions.

  • I have never really understood region locking, and I was never able to get an answer from people on why they did it. Is it just a method of control? Forcing people to only buy their region, and to wait for release of a product in their own, (or be SOL if it never comes). That really pisses me off if so.

    Can someone explain that to me if they have a better understanding of it?

    • I don't know for sure but I'd like to think that it creates some kind of gray market that is only profitable for the manufacturers. Just one thought off the top of my head.
    • by bugbeak (711163)
      Apologies if this sounds like an apologist spouting (I am very much against region-locking myself). One reason for region-locking is localization. For example, there's a guitar simulator for the DS called M-06 released in Japan. When Ubisoft released that game in the States, they renamed it to Jam Sessions. The average gamer Stateside would be more inclined to pick a game if it were titled "Jam Sessions" as opposed to "M-06" Another more famous example is the rhythm game called "Ouendan". The original con
    • by Skapare (16644)

      The classical region locking allowed manufacturers to price products for specific areas. For example they sell things cheaper in India, because the cost of living and corresponding wages are lower there, despite exchange rates with countries like UK and US. This has the effect of blocking products like American movies sold in India cheaply making their way back to the US as cheap gray market and underpricing.

      As companies will, this has gone from gray market deterrence to abuse of the consumers. For examp

      • by SL Baur (19540)

        The classical region locking allowed manufacturers to price products for specific areas. For example they sell things cheaper in India, because the cost of living and corresponding wages are lower there, despite exchange rates with countries like UK and US.

        I can sort of see that being true now, given outfits like Amazon.com. But was this really true when region locking was invented?

        Citations, please?

    • by neokushan (932374)

      One word: Greed.
      The best description I heard of it was when DVDs were the new thing. They were deliberately region locked because "Sometimes a film would come out on DVD in the USA while it was still in cinemas in other parts of the world and thus would hurt ticket sales". It never used to be a problem for VHS because the US and most of the rest of the world used 2 different TV systems (NTSC and PAL).
      Games don't have a "cinema" release, obviously, but they do tend to have staggered releases (i.e. The US wil

      • Games don't have a "cinema" release

        They used to during the 16-bit era, when it was called an "arcade" release. A lot of games would come out on SNK's NeoGeo, Capcom's CPS, Midway's T Unit, etc. first and then six months later on the more popular consoles such as Sega Genesis and Super NES.

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      Can someone explain that to me if they have a better understanding of it?

      There have been "explanations" here, but they have mostly been of the form that content distributors == MPAA wish to have total control over where their content goes and WHEN.

      What they have been trying to do with DRM is to duplicate the conditions of say the GBA where a GBA game cartridge only fits into a certain game playing device and can only be played there.

      The conflict arises due to the fact that people have reasonable expections of playing GBA games on a GBA handheld and nothing else. If they want to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At the age of global free trade, when companies can legally utilize anywhere in the world the lowest cost labour, cheapest material, biggest tax advantage - is it still legal for companies to limit consumers with region locking?

  • Late 80s coming back (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Qbertino (265505)

    Right now I feel like times are changing back again. With low-cost netbooks on the rise, SSDs and OSes burnt on to Bioses we're going to see more of this stuff creeping out into the computing world. It's the only way MS can attempt to enforce their Windows Family lockin. By providing inflexible hardware with some locks bolted on to them. I feel like the 80s are coming back, with Atari, Comodore and Archimedes stepping back into the ring.
    Oh well, time to switch to the Pandorra [openpandora.org] for handheld gaming then.

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