Nintendo is looking seriously at removing region locking from future systems, said company president Satoru Iwata during a recent investor question and answer session.
Thanks to NeoGAF user Cheesemeister, we have an unofficial translation.
The investor asked:
At the financial results briefing 6 months ago, you said that you would consider removing region-locking in response to a question asking about it. Could you please provide an update on the progress of that deliberation?
Removing region-locking from current game machines presents various issues, so we don’t consider that to be very realistic. However, regarding NX, given the customer feedback and proposals from the market, while nothing has been decided yet, we’re currently investigating internally what problems there would be in realizing it. You can think of that as the current situation. I understand your desire, so I’d like to look at it optimistically going forward.
Cheesemeister also notes that Iwata used the same word for “looking forward optimistically” when answering a question about recent theme park deal with NBC Universal, which suggests that this is a realistic option for the company.
As one reply to the initial post notes, 3DS modders have found a variety of software hacks to remove the region locking in place on Nintendo’s handheld, so it seems like the “various issues” are more of a business issue than a technical one. Sony’s PlayStation 4 doesn’t have system-based region locking – only certain games like Wolfenstein: The New Order have region locking, and in that case Germany’s laws about Nazi-related content are responsible. At least Nintendo is looking forward at this point, but we hope they’ll still look into it on current systems so that modders don’t have to keep coming up with workarounds, because we know they will.
Nintendo informally announced the NX console this year alongside the announcement of the company’s decision to start making mobile games as a way of reassuring investors and customers that they weren’t moving away from traditional gaming as they looked into mobile. Nintendo has said we won’t hear about NX at this year’s E3, but we can probably bet on hearing something at E3 2016.