Wii U games to be region locked: No rare imports for hardcore gamers

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nintendo-wii-u.jpgNintendo’s forthcoming Wii U console will be region locked, the Japanese gaming giant has today confirmed. This means that intrepid gamers looking to import rare, quirky games from around the globe that may never see an official UK release will be unable to do so.

The same goes for those looking to get hold of games whose international launch dates differ from local ones; if a game comes out in the US or Japan ahead of a UK release, you won’t be able to grab a international version from Amazon as it won’t work on your console.

Nintendo’s confirmation comes after in Japanese magazine Famitsu broke the news (translated via Twitter): “What can be played on the Wii U is restricted by a region-lock feature; software not sold in the same region cannot be played.”

It’s hardly a surprising move by Nintendo, what with their 3DS handheld console and the current generation Wii both also region locked.

But it does feel a little like an unnecessary step. Local licensing issues tend to be the reasoning behind region-locking rules; to use a game’s soundtrack for example, an artist may give permission for a track to be used in one territory and not another, making multi-region releases difficult, and imports a headache for developers. However, hackers normally quickly find a way around such restrictions, even if it is through hardware modding, and at the expense of the warranty.

Nintendo recently revealed pricing and release date information for the Wii U console. Hitting UK stores on November 30th, the Premium Edition of the tablet controller packing console costs £299, while the Basic Edition costs £250.

Differences between the two versions mainly concern storage space. The Basic version will launch with 8GB of storage. The premium version has 32GB of storage, and will also come with a GamePad, HDMI cable, a charging cradle for the tablet controller, and a stand for the console itself. The Basic set comes in white, while the Premium set comes in black.

Gerald Lynch