Monday, August 1, 2011

The Region Barrier

Hi everyone. For those of you who play a lot of video games, the words "region lock" ought to ring a few bells. For those who don't know, let me give a short explanation. Basically, different parts of the world are divided into different "regions," for example America is one region and Europe is a different one. For many game consoles and handheld gaming devices, a game produced in one region can not be used on a console of a different region, hence the expression "region lock."

This phenomenon could be very annoying for an avid gamer if a game that you really wanted to play wasn't available in your region. Even importing the game wouldn't help, unless you wanted to modify your console to play games of any region. I have done this myself, and while it wasn't too much of a hassle, it still felt so unnecessary to have to mess around with your console to make it do something it should have been able to do in the first place: Play some damn games! Luckily for me, however, the Playstation 3 and the Playstation Portable are not region-locked, which means you can put a game from anywhere in the world into your console, and play it without any problems. No more longing for games you can never have, just import and play! Lovely.

This got me thinking, now that regions aren't an obstacle any more (at least not for the consoles mentioned above), and with all consoles now having easy access to the internet, wouldn't it be possible to remove the annoyance of delayed game releases by simply releasing translation patches for foreign games online? Living in Europe teaches you early on to wait longer than most for a new game release. The biggest reason for this used to be the publishers having to reformat the game to suit the 50hz TV's of the EU region, and of course to translate the game content. But with most people owning a more modern TV that supports the refresh rates used in America and Japan, that reformatting is no longer necessary, so all that is needed is basically a translation. And if that can be released online, then everything would be that much smoother!

This is mostly just wishful thinking on my part, and I doubt it's ever going to happen. It doesn't bother me, though. If I may be smug for a few seconds, I must say that knowing Japanese sure opens up new possibilities when it comes to video games. A lot of really fun and interesting games are never released outside of Japan, and that's a darn shame. The region barrier may be gone, but the language barrier remains.

Until next time, have a good day!

11 comments:

  1. Translation isn't even necessary most of the time. In my entire life I've probably never played a game that wasn't in English. Most Europeans have a sufficient knowledge of English to play games, right?

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  2. yeah, you're right, internet is beating "the man" everywhere!

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  3. Just subtitles and you can sent it over to Europe :)

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  4. You're very right. Being Australian (and thus using the European region) I encounter this a lot. At least games don't often take half a year to convert any more. That used to be a major problem.

    The fact that the PSP and DS (the old ones at least, bad move Nintendo) have no region locks got them both a lot of business from me for a few Japanese games and many American only games.

    Though, translation will always be difficult, but people above are right, subtitles can be all that's needed for a lot of games that would otherwise be limited in release range to Japan or America.

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  5. Sometimes there are more differences in a game by region that can't be simply patched away.

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  6. That's a great idea, anything to speed up global releases.

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  7. While it might be a good idea, as you stated i dont think its going to happen :(

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  8. locks on devices you own are kind of silly

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  9. I've heard of this a few times and it allways seems like a horrible system. I can only see the region locks in place as large corporations don't want regions canibalizeing eachothers "profits" due to people ordering other loclaizations of the game. Though I did not know about the TV hz problem which may have more to do with it than I realize.

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