Wii U to be region-locked, like it's 2005 or something

The Wii U will be region-locked when it is released, Nintendo has confirmed, leaving fans of rare imported games out in the cold.

The Nintendo Wii U will be region-locked, the House of Mario says, making it impossible to play rare imported games here in the UK.

Just like its predecessor the Wii, and its handheld relative the 3DS, Nintendo's newest console will not be able to use any software from outside its intended region.

Nintendo revealed this to veteran Japanese gaming mag Famitsu, which was quoted on the NeoGAF forum as saying, "In addition, the feature region lock the region can play the Wii U is limited is mounted, you can not play other than software that is sold in the area." (Thanks to Google for the seamless translation.) The news was later confirmed by CVG.

The main problem here is that the dedicated and culturally curious gamer who looks to import rare, quirky games from around the globe will be unable to do so. With Nintendo being a quintessentially Japanese company, many of the most popular games in its home country -- often completely baffling to Western gamers, but with their own specific charms -- are not released elsewhere.

Another issue is that those keen enough to get hold of a game early, because it's released in the US before Europe, for example, won't have this luxury either.

This will not seem like a big deal for most people, but some will be annoyed at the situation. This will likely lead to hacks or modding of the Wii U, obviously at the expense of invalidating the warranty, in order to find a way around this international restriction.

Nintendo's main competitors, Microsoft and Sony, allow publishers themselves to decide whether or not to use region locking on games for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. As a result, almost all PlayStation titles are sold without such a lock -- thank you America for my Uncharted: Drake's Fortune copy one month early, all those years ago.

In comparison, Xbox 360 titles vary widely on whether there is a lock or not.

The Wii U will be out in the UK on 30 November, with the US earlier on the 18th, and, strangely, Japan later on 8 December. Prices will start at £249 .

What do you think of the region-locking of the Wii U? Are you one of the hardcore few, livid at the fact that you won't be able to play the rarest of titles? Blow off steam down in the comments or over on our cosmopolitan Facebook page.

 

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