SNES Classic Hit By Language Laws

Nostalgic Quebecers hoping to buy the SNES Classic are out of luck. Nintendo has reportedly decided not to sell the console in the province thanks to language regulations.

Local laws protect and promote the use of French, which is the official language of Quebec and must be used in several areas such as advertising and instructions. The general principle is that while companies are perfectly at liberty to use other language as well, they must use French, usually more prominently.

Regulations passed in 2009 to apply this principle to video games say that games and consoles sold in Quebec must be in French if there is a French version sold anywhere else in the world. This goes beyond simple packaging and appears to cover in-game text.

Two games store employees have told Motherboard that the console appears to have been caught in something of an administrative loophole. While many of the built-in games have French versions – which will be available in the European edition – two are English only and thus would make the entire console breach the rules.

If Nintendo wanted to go down the loophole, it could – at a stretch – go after another loophole. The regulations (auto-translated) specifically refer to “new generation game consoles (Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Sony PlayStation 3, Sony PSP) as well as future generations Consoles.)” A skillful or pedantic lawyer might try to argue the SNES Classic is actually a previous generation, though that would be an expensive longshot to try.