Nintendo Wii U to be region locked

If you believe region-coding is just so early 21st century, you’ll be disappointed to hear Nintendo has announced the Wii U console will indeed discriminate on grounds of geography.

The company has officially confirmed a report from a Japanese gaming magazine that, as most of its previous non-portable consoles, the system will be region-locked. In other words, if you buy a game in one part of the world, it will only work on Wii U consoles from the same area.

Nintendo hasn’t confirmed if it will use the same region system as the original Wii, namely four areas of North America/Malaysia/Philippines/Singapore, Europe/Oceania, Hong Kong/Japan/Taiwan and South Korea.

Exactly what Nintendo hopes to achieve by this system is hard to figure out. It can bring benefits for games companies because they can enforce different pricing in different areas to maximize profits, something they may find particularly welcome given fluctuating exchange rates across the Pacific

However, for the games players the only effects from region coding is that they either have to pay more for a game, or they have less choice about the games available. Neither of these makes the Wii U any more attractive to buyers in the first place.

There’s also a danger that gamers looking to save a few bucks or get an “unreleased” game early will start looking into hacking tricks to remove the region coding, which in turn may expose them to more information about how to pirate games.