In the days of yore when Japan was the epicentre of game development and buying a PAL PS2 was how you played weird Japanese rhythm games region locking was more of an issue than it is now. In this enlightened age of the twenty-teens you'd think limited access due to the mere geography would be a thing of the past, but of course Nintendo has other ideas.
As some of you may know I'm the recent owner of a Nintendo 3DS and am currently traipsing about the British Isles. It should be a match made in heaven.
Unfortunately, I've run headlong into the solemn realisation that Nintendo has spent the last six years with its head buried in the sand in stern denial of the existence of the internet. My 3DS is a US model, which means that UK 3DS games are unplayable due to the region-locking firmware baked into every 3DS console. This wouldn't be a problem if the Nintendo eshop could provide games via the miracle of the internet but sadly Nintendo have screwed it up on that front as well.
You see prior to my spint in the UK I was living in Singapore and thus have a Singaporean credit card. The way the eshop works is that you can't buy anything unless the postcode your card is registered to matches up to the region you've chosen for the eshop. However, Nintendo is convinced that only the US, the UK and Japan buy games via the eshop because the Singaporean eshop front is a joke. There are no games available for purchase, only a selection of game pages are up telling you to go buy said game at retail. No virtual console, no Pushmo, no nothing. Although funds can carry over from adding cash then switching to another region, the region from which all my money plastic originates prevents even the addition of e-money to my account.
Singapore isn't a swamp anymore Nintendo. It gets the internet there too.
Unless you hadn't realised Nintendo, the 3DS is a portable system. It's a platform designed to be taken, for example, on a trip to England. Perhaps someone who was undertaking such an expedition would want to purchase a 3DS game, both physical and digital, during his/her travels? It's not what one might call an unlikely scenario is it?
Of course I understand the reasons behind region locking. The internet gives players an uprecedented access to online delivery services that allow them to avoid the mark-ups on game prices in their region, thus undermining the profitability of a branch of a large publishing company. Nintendo obviously wants to protect its cut of every game sold for its platform and the lack of region-locking on the DS caused them no end of problems.
Nevertheless Nintendo has done an atrocious job of populating the eshops for each country with games to compensate 3DS owners for this inconvenience. It's also hard to condone region-locking in general when Sony has opened up the PS3 and the Vita to games from all regions and hasn't exactly suffered for it. For the limited number of consumers who actively exploit price differences in different countries that region-locking combats there are hundreds of consumers like me who are prevented from having a optimal experience. If Nintendo insists of using anti-consumerist measures then they need to provide sufficient digital services for every single region where their handheld is sold.
Luckily DS games aren't region-locked and I seem to have missed out on a generation of handheld games. I'll probably buy them used. I'm not feeling benevolent enough towards Nintendo to pay new game prices to reward their backward approach to the eshop, digital services and ensuring that consumers such as myself who would happily support Nintendo and its partners have the opportunity to do so.