Ever since Microsoft was laughed at by pretty much everybody in and out the game industry, they’ve been periodically changing their policies with Xbone. It’s a very positive thing to see Microsoft taking in all the flak and reassessing their position with the console. They’ve had so much negative press since the E3 that it would have been a sort of miracle if they had stayed with their initial plans rather than taking a different approach.
Now Microsoft has made another good step, which emulates SONY’s policies, which dictate that the console is free of region locking. Free region home consoles are becoming a standard, which is a definitive welcome change in the overall scenario. Now if the rest of them could be free of region limits outside the account the user is tied to.
SONY has been rather good example on their account system, where the user is able to open an account to any region store where he wants. There’s some gray area what needs to be to fully utilise them, but that’s something that hasn’t been hurting anyone and mostly has brought more profits to SONY and its partners.
While Nintendo was initially somewhat a forerunner with the whole ‘net connectivity with the Famicom, they’ve been far behind how the current world functions. There should be no restrictions why I shouldn’t have the option to have one account that works on all Nintendo systems that have the ability to function with their current Virtual Console or whatever it’s called now.
Microsoft has been rather humble while still trying to lift their image. Still, what we’re hearing from the is just about the console, what it does, what doesn’t need to be attached to it in order to function and so on. Mostly we’ve heard stuff that isn’t really relevant for an actual game console to have to function, and no region locking is actually the first news that has some level of impact on what people will play on the console. Now, Xbone has larger library of games, if you’re willing to import.
Nowadays importing has become just as easy as any Internet purchasing. I’ve have no idea how customs are handled in various other countries, but locally it’s as simple as getting a letter, which states that the customs officials have taken package until the customs are payed. From their website you fill in a form and pay the customs according to the form and the package is released. Even after customs most games will be cheaper to import form outside Europe rather than buy them locally, which is pretty sad when you think about it. Back in 1997 importing was hard. You had to know certain people who knew certain people, or had an access to a random import service. I have no real recollection if ’97 saw an Internet shop that was willing to ship abroad from US, but I think there was at least one. Back then some of the prices were about as much inflated as the worst eBay prices.
Microsoft also took out the compulsory Internet connection a while ago, which makes the machine itself rather import friendly as well. It’s sad to think that home consoles are doing better on the region free front rather than the hand held consoles.
What region free consoles gives to the customer is power to decide over their purchase in more free way. With the Internet there are no boundaries where or how you can get your item, whatever it may be. Only legislation stands in your way. Only electronics seem to have bullshit limitations why you shouldn’t be able to use them in any given region. GameBoy didn’t have region, as you could buy any game from any region during holidays and play it on your machine.
As region free console allows the consumer more freedom on choice on his purchases, this also means a slight paradigm shift how the company has to approach their systems. SONY’s account based system is a good middle ground, but it’s unfortunate to see that they still enforce use of PSN Cards, as an European credit card can’t purchase US/JPN games those regions. This is somewhat comical, as I’ve been able to buy Japanese Virtual Console game with my European console. Is the system intended to work like that? No, but at least it works and they’re getting my money for the product I want to purchase.
It’s damn weird that the user has to cheat the company in order to purchase their product in more legit way.
With region locked consoles and games the companies have been established that the software won’t work within certain region, which on the other most likely has lessened number of complaints and similar contacts. I know one person who called local SONY branch and complained that his game didn’t work on the PlayStation he bought from a ship validated by them. Turned out the had bought the game from Russia. General source of complaints from older times would have been picture being a mess due to wrong signal, black-and-white screen and with machines their power overloading due to different output from the wall socket. That’s why we have power bricks and socket adapters. This is also why I’d rather see hand held consoles using real batteries, and you wouldn’t be tied down to a rechargeable battery. Unfortunately, the 3DS and Vita consume way too much power for any sensible use of AA-batteries in them.
Honestly speaking, there’s very little chances that we’re ever going to see completely region free console, if it has an Internet based service. This is because of various business contracts with distributors between regions varies widely between regions. Then you have the in-game license issues, which actually prevent some of the older games being released on modern consoles… like Mega Man Legends 1 and 2. And that’s mostly because CAPCOM refuses to pay money to get more money.
However, you wouldn’t find me complaining much if the future consoles and their account systems would have similar loopholes as PSN.
Well, it’s a good thing that Xbone is region free, as it’s a glimpse of sanity in a place which wants to see what you’re doing all the time.