Nintendo has confirmed via Japanese magazine Famitsu, as translated and posted to NeoGaf, that the Wii U will be region-locked. This means that games bought in the U.S., Europe, or Japan will only be accessible for machines sold in those regions, preventing gamers from importing games. The comment reads as follows:
What can be played on the Wii U is restricted by a region-lock feature; software not sold in the same region cannot be played.
Region-locking has been a standard policy of Nintendo as seen on the 3DS, Wii, GameCube, N64, SNES, and NES.
Analysis: This move by Nintendo is not all that surprising, and that’s where the saddest fact lies. This is coming from a company that regularly sees their games released exclusively in one country whilst other countries are forced to either wait an extremely long time or out entirely in some cases.
They simultaneously refuse to sell the game within your territory and actively fight anybody who attempts to import it. It’s hard to feel sympathy for companies when otherwise loyal customers try to find ways to circumvent these issues via cracking their consoles. In a lot of ways, it’s rightfully deserved for constantly treating their customers as walking money bags that will automatically bend to the will of the company.
I understand that some niche titles are not going to have success in all territories. As the video game industry is a business, it’s a sound decision not to release the game worldwide, but region-locking serves no purpose other than allowing a company to exert control and forces customers to take matters into their own hands.
In comparison, Microsoft and Sony leave it up to the publishers to decide whether or not their games will be locked to specific regions, and many of them choose not to incorporate such a policy. One has to wonder whether Nintendo actually understands why consumers dislike some of their decisions.