Ever since I can remember, every video game manfacturer made one version of their consoles, games, etc, for the Far East, one for the U.S., and one for Europe. There may have been a company or two that didn’t do this - I’m not sure. But I think most have.
It’s understandable to change the language of the games to that spoken in whatever locale they’re being sold in, but why make different, incompatible video game systems? And, of course, anyone who really wants to get games from another country can buy a MOD chip for $10 or so and play to their heart’s content.
So why do game manufacturers do this? Is the reason economic (rampant piracy in Asia?) or does it have something to do with software export laws?
Price discrimination. Being able to separate markets allows a firm to charge different prices in different markets, which results in higher profits. It also allows different release dates which is the same thing done in a different way.
Could it also be an attempt to botch possible piracy attempts?
Although I don’t fully understand the differences between regional game encodings, I’d like to comment on how different countries use different video standards in general. In N. America and Japan you get a lot of NTSC, for example, while I don’t think that that system is commmon in the rest of Asia and Europe.
Makes it hell for my Playstation games, but I found I can make games for NTSC systems work on my PAL Playstation by plugging in a cheap Chinese Gameshark clone and leaving it turned off. Or am I playing PAL games on an NTSC Playstaion? One of the two!
The regionally encoded DVD crap I surmounted by buying a multi-system DVD player and TV, and it was not at all expensive. The publishers of DVDs can now encode to their hearts’ content, and I can watch all their results regardless. Take that, you greedy pigs!
For the life of me, I can’t remember where i heard this from, but I believe that there may be some legality that mandates this. <CYA statement> Let’s assume that the term ‘legality’ includes contractual stuff. </CYA statement>
The only reason I bring this up is because I did hear it somewhere and it seemed like something that was a formality because I remember thinking “Oh, so that’s why Nintendo was so half assed about it.” By which I meant that as far back as I could remember (which was the N64 and SNES), that their “region protection” was a differently shaped cartridge that took the sophisticated measure or a $10 adapter to overcome.
Of course I have no cites, so take this with a grain of salt.
As has been mentioned, it is all about profits. It also helps control piracy. Most of all it also helps control what is known as the gray market. Software and DVD producers will usually have an appointed distributor in each country. This distributor spends money on marketing and distributing the products. For this they take a cut of each copy resold in their country. If the products were not coded, some local company, other than the distributor, could import the same products through other channels and undercut the local distributor who just spent a fortune advertising the said product. By coding the products, they are able to block gray market dealers and protect the local distributor.