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Nintendo's president hints at an end to region-locking

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Nintendo's Wii U and 3DS are the last of the current platforms to be region-locked, causing plenty of frustration for Western fans of titles that haven't or won't see release in their markets. In a Q&A with investors, according to a translation, company president Satoru Iwata indicated a willingness to rethinking the policy.

To be sure, according to the translation (via Zelda Informer), Iwata lays some of the decision to region-lock at the feet of publishers. He noted that "region-locking has existed due to circumstances on the sellers' side rather than for the sake of the customers." This is because of issues of licensing, localization and marketing, all of which involve money.

"As for what should be done going forward, if unlocked for the benefit of the customers, there may also be a benefit for us. Conversely, unlocking would require various problems to be solved, so while I can't say today whether or not we intend to unlock, we realize that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future."

Of course, region-locking also meant that Western customers couldn't import Super Smash Bros. on 3DS and play it before their localized release three weeks later. In any event, any action on region locking is probably a long ways off, and would at least require some new hardware release. The New Nintendo 3DS just launched in Japan and should arrive in North America and Europe in 2015.