Been awhile, hasn't it? Almost five years since I've made a single blog post, in fact. Quite a bit's changed since then, I might add. I'm just a little over a year away from becoming a college graduate now, and I've been living in Japan for about ten months. I no longer have to scour the internet in order to find old anime CDs, and buying obscure Japanese games for my game collection has gone from being a lengthy shipping process to a simple train ride into Akihabara. And yet, as my wonderful study abroad experience in Japan quickly draws to a close (I return home this Friday), I find there is one thing that, despite having lived with the reality of it for ten months, still constantly urks me.
At first, it was a non-issue. I was in a new country, who cares about a few games I can't play? There are plenty more out there for older systems I'd never touched, particularly for the original DS. No reason to be upset that my 3DS might have a more limited selection. Before coming to Japan, I'd never even touched a DS Tales game, for example, and I couldn't resist picking up the original Ninokuni or Soma Bringer either, even if I knew my reading level wasn't at a point where I could hope to play them at (this is still difficult, even now). Then, Bravely Default: Flying Fairy and Fantasy Life both came out, and I became irritated. In Japan, where streetpassing someone new every five minutes is the norm on a 3DS, I came to constantly see updates from people about both games, with the process repeating once again for Animal Crossing. Soon, my friends here purchased their own Japanese 3DS' so they might join in on the fun as well. Being a poor college student, however, I found myself out of luck. Granted, I hadn't even finished all my old games, but that didn't mean I didn't want to try the new releases I saw appearing on shelves. Say what you will about Square Enix, I'm extremely interested in Bravely Default, and Fantasy Life looks like a blast. The people I know with the game all agree with this statement as well, and regardless of whether or not it's true, it's still frustrating to be unable to even try out some of these titles for myself.
So, why do companies bother with region-locking in the first place? Specifically, why does Nintendo continue to region lock their own consoles, despite the removal of such a function from the upcoming Microsoft and Sony consoles? I realize that, in most cases, it won't make a difference. Many of the games I'm pining to play will eventually trickle to the States, and thus become available for my own little 3DS. Even if this is the case, however, I have a hard time believing that region locking is still necessary in this day and age for game consoles. Once upon a time, we saw many arguments that it was necessary to help companies maintain profit when dealing with the various currencies, age ratings, and other restrictions, but it's hard to believe this is truly relevant now, in an age where anyone can order from across the seas with a simple trip onto the internet (even if you might have to do a little more digging). Especially in the case of a portable console, is it really damaging to a business if someone, hypothetically, takes their 3DS with them on a trip overseas and decides to buy a game from a different region for their 3DS? In most cases, the same price is being paid in each countries' currency, so it's difficult for me to see how it really damages a company's business.
And if the policy still isn't going to be changed in the near future, any chance someone could hurry up with that Bravely Default localization? ... Just saying.