Gaming companies can try to control the ways consumers use their products, but no matter how many many heads they slice off, the hydra that is the gaming community always finds new ways to circumvent restrictions. The latest example of this phenomenon that’s making headlines is a group of 3DS owners in an underground gaming community, GBAtemp.net, who claim to have a method of bypassing region-locking restrictions on the handheld console.
Members of this community have found a way to modify the system’s launcher, allowing it to play games from any region. The workaround requires installing a patch to the 3DS’ flash memory card.
When a console is region locked, that means it can only play games from the same region it was purchased in or games that developers program as region free. For most gamers, this is a non-issue.
However, a vocal minority of gamers consider region locking a big deal, and they don’t like it. Some of the reasons this group opposes region locking are: wanting to play games that have only released in another region, wanting to take advantage of regional price differences, and wanting to experience or show off the novelty of a foreign game. But perhaps the most important reason is that gamers are very particular about retaining their consumer rights, as evidenced by the recent backlash against Xbox One digital rights management policies.
Over 27,000 people visited Change.org and signed a digital petition to remove region locking from the 3DS and Wii U. The original poster of the petition is from the UK.
Currently, neither Microsoft’s nor Sony’s most recent consoles enforce region locking, although they do allow game publishers to do so; Nintendo is alone in its support of current-gen region locking on the 3DS and Wii U. Its previous handheld, the DS, was region free.
GamesBeat has reached out to Nintendo for comment.