Regional Coding for Video Games
Ever thought of buying a video game not available in your home country from abroad? Ever learnt a foreign language and thought of playing a foreign game in its original language? While these may sound fun, it may get more complicated than it seems as many companies use regional coding, so a video game bought overseas may not work on your home gaming console.
The actual purpose of this practice is to give the publisher companies more control over their markets and the potential to earn higher profits on selling video games. For example, a US video game usually sells for a higher price in the US than in Malaysia, and by using regional coding, developers can ensure that US gamers cannot import games from Malaysia as they would not be able to play the Malaysian version on their US consoles.
Video games typically have one of four regional codes. The list below shows the areas covered by each code:
NTSC-U/C – The Americas
NTSC-J – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Southeast Asia
NTSC-C – mainland China
PAL – Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa
Amongst PC video games, regional lockout is more difficult to enforce because both the game application and the operating system can be easily modified. In most cases you don’t need to worry about region locks for PC video games. Subscription-based online games often enforce a regional lock by blocking IP addresses, which can often be circumvented through an open proxy.
Video Game Consoles
- Nintendo Game Cube – region locked
- Nintendo Wii – region locked
- Nintendo DS – region locked
- Nintendo Switch – region-free
- Play Station – region locked
- Play Station 2 – region locked
- Play Station 3 – region-free
- Play Station 4 – region-free
- PSP – region-free
- Play Station Vita – region-free
- Xbox – region locked
- Xbox 360 – region locked
- Xbox One – region-free
Circumventing Regional Coding
Most region locked game consoles can be unlocked either by console modification or by third party software. Some shops can modify a gaming console so that it supports all region codes and, at least for certain models, instructions for doing such modifications yourself are readily available on the web. An important detail to keep in mind is that by modifying your gaming console you may accidentally damage it and in the process also void the console warranty. In general it is not recommended to modify the gaming consoles yourself.