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Wii to be Region Free 151

Chris Kohler is making it a point to single out the fact that, like its cousin the DS, the Wii is to be Region-free. They also discuss how Virtual Console titles will associated with a console owner, and some details on the Opera browser. From the article: "Like the Nintendo DS, the Wii will be able to play games from other regions, such as Japan, without any restriction. Kaplan implied there might be a region lock that publishers would be able to flip on, but it doesn't sound like the first-party titles from Nintendo will be restricted."
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Wii to be Region Free

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  • Sweet! (Score:2, Funny)

    by FrontalLobe ( 897758 )
    I love Japanese games. I'm sooooo happy their making it region-fwii!
    • About time! I am in the UK, but usually get a US or Japanese console so I dont have to wait for the games to come out over here. I am fed up with the stupid release schedules and ordering something from gamestop or lik-sang will normally get me a game 6 months sooner than if I waited for it to come out in the UK, and will almost always work out cheaper as well. I am very glad that I get to shop around for games for the Wii.
    • by fotbr ( 855184 )
      I'm not even a big fan of Japanese games, but still like this news. It means I can try a variety of games without being artifically limited. There have been a couple of Japan-only titles in the past that I would have liked to try out, but without knowing if I'd like them they weren't worth buying a 2nd console to play them.
      • Yes but then you have to deal with that almost incomprehensible language that is American English :P

        Just out of curiosity, are the English translations released in the UK any different from the ones released in the US?
        • by aliquis ( 678370 )
          I read that mario 3on3 hoops for the DS seemed "dumbed down" for the US version according to some people, also Nintendo didn't released the real super mario bros 2 (in the days of the NES..) outside Japan because they thought it was to hard for us western people.

          I would assume that EU english and US english versions are the same but that you still have to wait in EU since they want to make italian, spanish, german, french and so on versions aswell, and I guess that if they really "dumb down" the western ver
        • >Just out of curiosity, are the English translations released in the UK any different from the ones released in the US?

          Not usually. It's less noticable with rather plain translations, but with the more colourful ones it can be fairly noticable with more americanisms etc. Of course the all-pervasiveness of american cultures means most americanisms are undersood in the UK.

          This means of course with voice acting we get the "pleasure" of American "man pulled off the street and into a recording studio" voice a
      • I just realized I replied to the wrong thread, disregard!
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:48PM (#16107220)
    $250 and region free? Sounds like a winner to me.
    • by IgLou ( 732042 )
      No doubt! I remember one of my favourite things was when I played was an early demo Metal Gear Solid that had original Japanese voices and english subtitles and that was so much fun to play!! There was something about it that made me feel like I was immersed in some anime. Too cool.

      I'm not sure if region free will provide something like that but if the Wii can give me an experience like that again I'm jumping off the PlayStation boat! Heck at the price how can I lose!? (Asides from being beaten up b
  • ...and call me cynical, but if it's a case like the Xbox 360, where it can be region free, but only if the publisher wants it, I'd still get a US system (I'm in the UK), just becuase I know some game I want to play will be region locked, and won't be released in the UK.
    • It says right in the article that it was implied that there would be a region lock that could be flipped on by a publisher. I don't doubt it'll be used and used a lot, but atleast they made the (non) effort of not region locking the whole thing. PS3's supposed to be region free too, last time I heard; but blue-ray disks (which the games are on) are region locked by their own nature.
    • by cHALiTO ( 101461 )
      Don't worry, looks like help [wii-modchips.com] is on the way :)
      • by Tyger ( 126248 )
        Wow, that site must have a time machine...

        Not a very good one at that.

        Apparently their mod chips let you play DVD movies from any region. Pretty fancy, considering the Wii can't even play DVDs on it's own.

        Oh yeah, and the Wii uses "custom optipal media" according to that site's information.

        And the Nintendo Wii mod chip "was released in December 2006". There are also apparently already multiple types of modchips, including those that require soldering and those that just use positions of pins for pressure
        • by cHALiTO ( 101461 )
          I can read, you know.. it was supposed to be funny ;)

          But if you are serious about modchips for the wii, they will eventually come out, i'm quite sure. It's just a matter of time.

          • by Tyger ( 126248 )
            Oh I know it will. I seriously doubt it will be as early as December 2006, but I know it will happen. I just found that page quite funny in how they took information from other consoles and tried to make it sound like it's really for the Wii, and made it as official and informative sounding as possible. I've never seen a web page so flat out wrong when trying to sound authoratative and correct without being purposely humor.
      • by aliquis ( 678370 )
        Looks like a place holder and a way to get high google ratings from day 1 to me.
  • but should hopefully mean we won't see what we did with the 360 - I can't buy one in the UK and have to look at pictures of crates unsold in Japan.
    Might also avoid the UK getting shafted on hardware costs :) I think I'm going to buy myself one now.
    Sooo, over to you Sony - how are you going to convince me to buy a PS3 when I've got my PC, my 360 and now a Wii?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Can't find Xbox 360s in the UK? You can't be looking very hard [amazon.co.uk], as far as I know there's no shortage of Xbox 360s in the UK, hasn't been for months. I live in a smallish town, and my local ASDA and Blockbusters both have consoles, and I think Woolworths and Argos probably have them as well.
      • We used to have Woolworths in the town I grew up it. It was a great store. Every summer they had a model building contest for the kids and displayed the models in the store window! I thought they went out of business a long time ago. All the stores around here are long gone.
        • The UK Woolworths split from the American one at some point in the past, and the UK one is still going (ISTR from Wikipedia that the American Woolworths company is now called Foot Locker). Most towns have one, the UK hasn't had as much of the shopping centre / mall effect on Main / High Streets (I'm guessing that's what happened), although some town centres near to centres have been pretty much killed by them.
          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
            I don't think it was the malls that killed Woolworths. The Woolworths I knew where in shopping centers along with grocery stores. What killed it INMO was the same thing that killed local toy stores, KMart and later Walmart. For a while Woolworths was the only "department" store in the town I grew up in. Kind of funny that it lives on only as Foot Locker in the US. One of the ultimate mall stores.
            Nice to know that they are alive and well in the UK. I am kind of sorry that I didn't see any when I was there
      • He was talking about 10 months ago when it was nigh impossible to get a XBox360 in UK or USA and we were stuck looking at pictures of untouched pallets of them in Asia...
    • The UK gets shafted on *everything* because you get taxed out the ass. Its like you guys love 'em or something :)
      • by Haeleth ( 414428 )
        Our taxes are higher than in the USA, but we get more for our money. You don't need health insurance in Britain, and your kids can get a world-class education dirt cheap (universities are not allowed to charge more than about $5500 a year, and the government pays some or all of that for students from low-income families).

        Which all kind of evens things out a little.

        But none of this explains why technology is so much more expensive here. Canada has a similar socially-aware government, similar taxes, and sim
    • Riiiiiiiiiiiiiidge raaaacer and real-time weapon change.
  • by jimstapleton ( 999106 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:53PM (#16107266) Journal
    is there any reason to make something that isn't region free? I mean, it would seem that sales would increase if they weren't restricted to a region.
    • I would think it's because they can get many sales "bursts" (one in each region) instead of just one. More chances to succeed, more chances to sell. Where as if you have no regions, you have one chance to succeed and thus one to sell.
      • not really, typically there is a language barrier between regions, a lot of people wouldn't buy out of region due to language issues.

        ex: I like games, but I wouldn't buy Japanese FFXII, even though I could have gotten it months earlier, simply for the fact that I can't speak Japanese.

        That would be the case with a lot of games for a lot of people, though certainly not all, the exceptions are small.
        • The language issues pisses me (and others off) as I'm in the UK, and I speak English, so Americans getting games months earlier (or at all) pisses me off. Becuase of region coding, I'd have to wait. It's partly why I want a console that can play US games (the fact US games are sometimes cheaper even after getting got by Customs for VAT and the Royal Mail's dreaded £4 fee of doom is another[1])

          [1] This is more true with stuff like the Xbox 360 than older consoles, where discounts bring it back into lin
          • by aliquis ( 678370 )
            Price differences between US and EU (Sweden) is so large that I know one guy which import 3 copies of whatever game he wants from US and sell 2 of them here, that way he gets the game more or less for free without having to pirate it. We are always screwed over :(
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ArmyOfFun ( 652320 )
      You have more trouble pricing things differently if the regions are free. A company could release their FPS in Japan for $20 and in the US for $50 because of the differences in demand. Without region restrictions, the import ends up cheaper than the domestic version. People are already doing this for 360 games that keep getting discounted in Japan but still cost $60 in the US.
    • by pixel_bc ( 265009 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:25PM (#16107623)
      Traditionally, region encoding was implemented because sometimes a developer would use different publishers for different regions.

      Not so common anymore.
      • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#16108664)
        Not so common anymore.

        In addition, the most legitimate defense of mod chips was always "I GOT IT TO PLAY IMPORTED GAMES!" Take that away, and modding your console just got that much shadier.

        • by aliquis ( 678370 )
          Already been tried with the DS and PSP, there we downgrade/get a flashcart because we all like homebrew so much ;)
        • > In addition, the most legitimate defense of mod chips was always "I GOT IT TO PLAY IMPORTED GAMES!"

          DVDs are incredibly easy to scratch, especially in the hands of children, and you have to pay the full price for a new disc. The most legitimate defence is that you want to back the discs up, which is perfectly reasonable and not shady in the least.
    • by ad0gg ( 594412 )
      For price fixing. Its much like how the pharmaceuticals operate in the US. You can't legally reimport the exact same drug allowing the companies to charge higher in the US then say Canada. Region encoding is protected by the DMCA and can't be cracked every though it has nothing to do with copyrights and everything to do about fixing the price by a region. Companies claim license issues but its all BS.
  • I'd hate to go to China and try to play with my Wii and discover that it was disabled until I returned home.
  • This is very good because as far as I can tell from following the Japanese press conference last night and then the American press conference this morning, the Japanese lineup of launch games is going to be way better than the American!

    (Has it even been announced yet whether "Wii Play", the game with duck hunt and pong in it, is coming in America at all? That was probably the most interesting piece of information last night, and I don't think the American coverage even mentioned it.)
  • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:57PM (#16107333) Journal
    Kaplan implied there might be a region lock that publishers would be able to flip on, but it doesn't sound like the first-party titles from Nintendo will be restricted."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this like telling people they can stop smoking by transitioning to smokeable nicotine sticks? If a developer can arbitrarily flip on region restrictions (which are, of course, keyed to region codes that *are* sold on this "region-free" device), then anyone who wants to restrict regions can. And before you pop a blood vessel, I think it's great that first party games will be like this, and I'm definitely getting a Wii, but this victory seems a tad hollow. I just don't think it's going to lead to "omg! I can get the Japan-only release and play it on my regular system!"
    • by twoallbeefpatties ( 615632 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:12PM (#16107484)
      When a Japanese game company releases a game, though, and doesn't plan on releasing an English version, do you think they'll turn on the region coding to deliberately shut out any potential import market, or they'll leave it off in the hopes of attracting a few extra buyers from overseas? Giving the option for region coding is likely for the companies with separate divisions - so that, say, Sega of America doesn't have to feel like they're competing with Sega of Japan on the same game. I'm guessing that for the most companies who do use the region coding, they'll probably be releasing a version in your area sooner or later anyway, so the lack of ability to import probably won't hurt as much, wihle smaller single-division companies will have a little more opportunity to pick up a niche audience.
      • Sure, it only makes any sense at all to bother with region encoding if you're actually planning on releasing in multiple regions.

        But I'll bet my faith in humanity that there will be some company that does a single-region release, with no intention of releasing anywhere else, and sets the region restriction bit. I'll bet that in the board room where this decision is made, the word "piracy" will be uttered in an urgent tone, followed by a series of serious "harumphs" from around the table and the sage noddin
        • Piracy? (Score:3, Insightful)

          I have to wonder if that wasn't part of Nintendo's decision to allow for region-free coding - that they realized that region coding ain't stopping anybody from pirating games to begin with...
          • I don't know if N ever thought region coding stopped piracy. I think most companies are smart enough to know the real reason for it -- price differentiation between regions -- but I am also betting there are still ones dumb enough to think it stops piracy... somehow.

            There may be some connection in N's mind between piracy and the console hardware mod market, which is primarily fueled by people modding their consoles to play imports. Maybe they think that if they cut out that revenue source then a Wii mod m
            • In some ways region encoding might encourage piracy. If I really want a copy of Super Neko Densetsu but I can't just import and play it, then I'll be hacking my Wii to play import games, when otherwise I wouldn't bother opening it. And now, it probably will play burned games. And there's Super Mario Galaxy up on that pirate site...
              • Yeah, that sounds more like N's thinking -- get rid of the need for mod chips for imports, hopefully get rid of the potential for piracy from import-chip-modded Wiis.

                Though I thought they did a pretty good job of eliminating piracy on the GC just by having a funky size of DVD (and the Wii disks are funky sized too, in between the GC disks and a normal DVD if i'm not mistaken).
                • by aliquis ( 678370 )
                  Yeah, because it's so hard to buy 8cm DVD-R, or remove the casing, or get a replacement case.

                  What stoped piracy on the Gamecube more or less is probably many factors.
                  1) Copyright protection where broken late.
                  2) Since the console was probably more bought by parents for their kids than teens and grown ups noone really cared about copying games on it.
                  3) Nintendo fans are loyal and want their beloved company to survive and therefor buy their games.
                  4) Nintendo brand new items smells and feel so good ;), don't we
                • Oh, and I forgot, the Wii discs are normal size.
        • It makes sense to me that Games being region free would REDUCE piracy... Region blocks are one of the big "excuses" for modifying a console. Making your console (and all of the games) region free takes away that excuse... narrowing the reasons for modification one step close to just "piracy". With less reasons the Software companies have a stronger argument in the courts (not that they'd really need one). Not to mention those people that might actually modify their consoles for region-free play, I'm sure wo
        • by aliquis ( 678370 )
          Yeah, because region codes have solved the piracy matter so many times earlier... uhm.. or not :)

          Region codes makes you feel less bad when you pirate "Hey why should I have to wait?", "It's not released here yet anyway", "Why shall I have to pay more?", "Screw them, they don't release it here, they don't want my money".
  • Analogy time (Score:5, Informative)

    by truedfx ( 802492 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:02PM (#16107382)

    Regular DVD players aren't region-free just because there exist DVDs suitable for all regions, right?

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:03PM (#16107400) Homepage Journal
    I picked up the cube while I was living in Japan and a few games, but I will almost certainly get a North American Wii. I wonder if I will be able to play my Japanese gamecube games on it.

    Also, are they doing a universal power supply? I do a lot of traveling and it would be cool if all I needed was a prong adaptor.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      since the Wii doesn't have region coding I would thing that it would play GameCube games from any region.
  • typing and printing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ILikeRed ( 141848 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:06PM (#16107422) Journal
    With the opera browser, and all of the google apps available, this would be all the computer many households would need - if they could print. I wonder if it will support printing to ps devices on a network? (Yes, a wireless keyboard would be essential for some things, but that would have to be an easy accessory to create.)

    What a run around Microsoft - I bet there are chairs flying today.

    • If it could print.

      And run iTunes.

      And connect to their digital camera.

      And.. uh... HAD A HARD DRIVE.
    • Right, just like we all replaced our boring old PCs with i-Openers and BeIA devices six years ago.

      Seriously, if you want a computer and you only have $300 to spend, get a cheapo Dell. In fact, a Dell and a Wii combined cost less than a PlayStation 3 (MOD UP BECAUSE I SAID SOMETHING COST LESS THAN A PLAYSTATION 3).
  • Does it work with both NTSC and PAL hardware?

    It's all well and good not imposing arbitrary restrictions on the playing of software, but if it's not actually physically compatible with certain televisions, then that could present some problems.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lukas84 ( 912874 )
      There are still people with non-multimode televisions?

      My TV is 3 years old, but it does NTSC and PAL bot flawlessly.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:09PM (#16107453) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about you, but now that we know the release date, I'm planning on buying one the first weekend they come out.

    FPS and Sports might be nice for some, but I find them ultra-boring. Probably because both were so much a part of my life, having spent so many years in the Army and playing sports since I was a kid.

    Game consoles are so you can get away from what you know.
    • Posting to erase those modpoints I accidentally gave you (-1, OT)

      I also plan on buying one ASAP, but without any games for a few months until they start to go down a little.
    • Lol you just listed the two genre's the Wii will be best at. Think Tennis and Red Steel :P

      Well I'll look forward to it for those kinds of games :P
  • Yesterday and today's announcements make me want the Wii less and less. I thought they would be including Opera for "free". Hopefully it's at least cheap.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DeadMilkman ( 855027 )
      Well lets think about this.

      Which do you think is fairer?

      #1 Opera is default and everyone effectively pays for it?

      #2 Opera is cheaply available to those who will use it (based on game prices say 5$-10$) and the console was effectively CHEAPER because of this.

      Personally I'd rather the option to pay for what I use, instead of paying for others to have something i might never use.
  • This is cool, as it makes importing that much better. It looks like Nintendo has realized that while there may not be mass-market appeal of a "crazy" game in the states, there is enough interest to import the title. Rather than have their users mod the hardware and be forced to buy another unit, they give them the chance to import what they like.

    This also removes just about any excuse for the installation of modchips (which tend to be viewed as always allowing play for "backup" games, but also have modchips
    • I'd have to say that this is a good move. Didn't Sony go "Region Free" for the PS3, as well?

      No, but thier Japanese and US regions are the same. Rules for US, sucks for Europe.

    • Default language? I'm sure it does - after the GameCube does this. You choose your preferred language in the inbuilt system manu and then any multi-language games will use that preference without one of those "Choose your language" screens.

      I mean, they wouldn't take *away* useful features, would they? What self respecting technology company would do such a crazy thing....
  • Maybe we can import a few consoles from you Americans then, huh? I hope you don't mind. The thing is, if Nintendo is up to its usual shenanigans, it'll be february 07 until we get any Wii love over here. So I'll probably import one or two for me and my pals.

    The Wii is looking better and better :-)

  • by LittleFishSan ( 1002484 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @04:26PM (#16108276)
    I study Japanese, and I have been to the point where I can enjoy playing text-heavy Japanese games, but I am limited to Japanese ROMs on my computer at this point. Not that I don't mind ROMs (There are lots of really good classic games), but sometimes I want to play the Japanese version of a game before it comes out in English because (1) I can play it before everyone else and (2) I can write it off as "language study." The only problem with this is the whole region-setting for consoles, which I can only bypass by modding my console, which is a mess I don't want to get into. The fact that the Wii is region free might have sealed the deal with me (Provided I play the Wii and it's not total crap). Nintendo did something else right, yay.
  • by bomanbot ( 980297 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:31PM (#16108912)
    What the summary forgot to mention was a confirmation of the prices for additional controllers:

    $40 for additional Wii Remotes and $20 for additional Wii Nunchucks

    Well, thats not really cheap, especially the Remote+Nunchuck Combo, but about what I expected. It will be quite expensive to buy the full set for four players, I guess...
  • I thought it stretched into the GB, or GBA days when Nintendo was fully region free, and the only barriers were language and display? Or, this is the handheld experiment that finally bore fruit?
    • You're correct, all of Nintendo's handhelds have always been region free. From what I remember, the SNES and N64 were not, however all you needed to do was open the cartridge slot and essentially cut off a tab and you were good to go.

      Looking forward to just (hopefully) being to able to play imported games out of the box though.

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