For as long as there were game consoles with internet services, no scratch that. For as long as smaller nations had internet access, we have been getting the poor end of the stick with regards to online services. Companies and websites out right block out their content, or offer a water down version of their service if your IP is not from a specified few locations. These lockouts occurs for many reasons. Sometimes it’s a copyright, while other times it’s a law standing in the way of progress. These are obviously tactics they use for copy protection, however it seem to me to be the tactics of an older age where nations were separated by borders and the sea. On the internet however we don’t really have those borders.
With the advancement of broadband internet came the birth of the social network. This changed the way communication between people over large distances communicate, in fact this site the Button Smashers blog is an example of how true this has become.
With the advancement of communication technology on the rise, it begs the question; why has software distribution methods not advanced at the same pace? It’s not like these companies don’t have the resources to offer the same quality online services to the all countries. As an individual that lives in one of the countries that has software restrictions placed on it due to location I know all too well how frustrating it can be to access online services. I use both Netflix and Hulu plus, both services are supported in my country, but due to its geological location we are considered to be in southern America. This factor means that we do not naturally have access to US Netflix and Hulu shows. This is an example of offering a watered down version of a service due to a person’s location. Mind you we pay the same price as all other users of these services yet we do not receive the same service as our North American Brethren. The case with Netflix and Hulu has a few work around but they can be more complicated than they are worth.
When it comes to video Games these Region locks become worse. As gamers you may know about some consoles having Region specific content blocks for certain games. For those who don’t know what this means, it means that if I buy a game from the UK (Hey Ryu) I may not be able to bring it home and play it on my north American Console. More often than not the disc is the exact same and so is the content on it, the only difference is a little code that is run on boot of the disc that verifies the consoles Region. These are sometimes put in place because some governments have strict laws as to what kind of content is allowed in their country. This begs a big question; what is the Purpose of a Government? As far as I am concerned a government’s purpose is to serve (To meet requirements or needs; satisfy) its nation to the best of its ability. Yet we have tons of systems put in place to prevent law abiding citizens of many nations all over the globe from acquiring services through the proper legal channels. This is why I am not surprised by the amount of Game Consoles and Handhelds that are Hacked and use pirate software. Sometimes the Legal option is not available to the customer after they have spent their hard earned money on a Device that they then cannot use to its full capacity because of restriction put in place by either the manufacturers or Governments.
Restrictions are a bit easier to understand with regards to physically distributed software, but why does the same thing have to happen with digital content too? If I am correct all the major console and video game software distributors follow this archaic form of content protection that does more harm than it solves.
Here are some example of problem I have personally ran into:
- Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo Video won’t work, Neither will Netflix)
- Steam (certain games are locked out of the store)
- Xbox 360 (some apps like “Game Trailers” won’t download)
- Origin (Shows up only in Spanish)
These are not the only problems that Gamers like myself outside larger nation’s experience. I think it’s about time Manufacturers and distributors get smart and realize that they are only alienating some of their customers by using Region locks on software.
Has region locking affected you in some form or the other? I’d love to know your views on the topic.