If you ever want to see the fiery wrath of gamers in action, there's an easy way to rile everyone up. Gather together a group of 3DS owners online, perhaps in a forum or article like this one, and mention two magic words. Here they are: region locking.
That got your comment fingers itching, didn't it? Don't lie. They're hovering over the keys right now, ready to mash out a comment saying either you don't care because you aren't into importing anyway, or that it's the greatest sin since Soma Bringer or Mother 3 not getting an official release. It's a hot button issue, one that inspires many feels. (It's one that even inspired me to import a Mint x White LL!)
Which is why it's a mistake that Ninteno is region locking the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. Nintendo needs to know the gaming public's feelings on region-locking.
Because it's an important issue. There are many games that just don't get released outside of Japan. Just off the top of my head, there's Puyo Puyo Tetris, installments in the Taiko no Tatsujin series, Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind, Tales of the World: Reve Unitia, Inazuma Eleven, Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode, Dragon Quest VII, and Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime 3.
That's only mentioning the major titles many people would like, and not even factoring niche things like Cinderellife: Girl's RPG. (Which is really more awesome than people give it credit for — especially if you're in it for the lulz.) Considering how early it is in the 3DS' life cycle, there are surely more to come.
I mean, it's understandable why region-locking happens. They stop licensing/publishing/distribution issues from arising. Anyone remember Jump Ultimate Stars, the best DS brawler starring characters from pretty much every great Shonen Jump manga in one Smash Bros. style game? It never got a worldwide release because it was so problematic. Region-locking prevents us from getting that gem and protects parent companies. More importantly, it's about keeping companies profitable. Sometimes, a title ends up being a lot cheaper in one region than it is in another, and region-locking a system keeps people from capitalizing on that to play a game on the cheap.
Which means region locking sucks for gamers in every possible way.
Nintendo had a chance. Region locking is still relatively new to Nintendo handhelds. The 3DS is really the first system to have it. (Yes, the DSi was region locked for DSi-exclusive titles, but there were only about 5 of them, so who cares?) The eShop doesn't require it. Sony's systems are all still region free, with the company letting the game publishers decide whether or not a region lock is in place. Most choose the region free route.
The New 3DS was an opportunity; going back to region free could only benefit Nintendo. Let's be honest. The New 3DS is going to be a hard sell. Especially since the only "exclusive" title announced thus far is a port of a Wii game. People may not be too eager to open up their wallets again to spend $200 so they can then (probably) pay $40 to play Xenoblade Chronicles again. Especially since, if they can find the game at a GameStop, it'll be about $50.
But, if Nintendo put an end to region locking, it would have suddenly gave everyone another reason to upgrade. Suddenly, the library grows. It isn't just about getting New 3DS exclusive games. It's about getting access to 3DS games from every region too. Sure, it would have made some people who went to the trouble of actually importing a Japanese 3DS upset (ahem), but the goodwill it would have garnered would have probably increased sales.
Even though she just went to all the trouble of importing a 3DS LL in January, Jenni would totes buy a New 3DS if it was region free. You can follow her on Twitter @JMariye.