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We are region

I got Wipeout Pulse from Play-Asia and as usual, I’m amazed how it’s cheaper for a gamer in Asia to get the US version of a game from an Asian store than the Asian version of the same game.
Wipeout Pulse: Asia vs US
I’m sure there’s a good reason why this should be the case just as I’m equally sure I wouldn’t be able to understand it. So, I’m going to go with the simplest explanation and the simplest explanation my simple mind can come up with is: the game industry is broken.

I exaggerate perhap but there are far too many annoyances for a gamer to deal with on a regular basis. I simply want to play your games, games industry. Why do you keep putting these ridiculous hurdles in my way?

I’ve already mentioned my deep dislike for annoying copy-protection schemes.

The other big gaming annoyance is region-locking. This probably isn’t an issue for US gamers but it is for the rest of us.

Take, for instance, Steam. I have the money and I want to hand it over but Valve doesn’t want to take it.
Steam: unavailable in your region
This is no doubt due to complicated and incomprehensible publishing agreements that govern which games are available where at what prices but you’d think Valve, with its Steam userbase of 15 million or so, would have sufficient clout to insist all games on Steam be available to all Steam users.

The situation is worse for Australian gamers. For no rational reason whatsoever, Australian Steam users have to pay ridiculous jacked-up prices for games. This is a digitally-distributed game we’re talking about; not a box transported across the seas by a 19th century frigate and then hauled across the Outback on the backs of kangaroos and koalas. If I were an Aussie gamer, I would not put a shrimp on the barbie out of protest. That would show ’em. Whomever ’em might be.

Locks and mods

It doesn’t get much better on the consoles. I’ve been keen on getting a PlayStation 2 for some time now. My experiences with the PlayStation Portable have been so positive that I’d like to explore console gaming further. I’m especially keen on digging into the PS2’s impressive library of RPGs and strategy games. The fact the better titles are still available under the budget-friendly Greatest Hits imprint is a great incentive to try them out.

Unfortunately, I can’t simply get a PS2 from a local Sony store because the device is still region-locked even as it nears the end of its 10-year cycle. What this means is if I get a PS2 from a local store, I can only play games from Region 3. This is a problem because game distribution, as noted earlier, is pretty screwed up. Due to piracy, original games are sold locally in very limited quantities. The titles sold are usually the ones with the widest appeal or to put it in another way, games that appeal to the lowest common denominator. If it’s a fighting game, shooting game or a racing game, it will be available here in shelf-hogging quantities. If it has depth, subtle gameplay and requires reading, you can forget about getting it locally.

So, I’ve got to break the rules, invalidate the warranty and get a modded machine in order to play games from other regions. I’m not happy about doing this but as long as the game industry continues with gamer-alienating policies like region-locking, I’m not going to lose any sleep whatsoever. Besides, I fully intend to purchase original titles so I will still be supporting the game developers I want to support.

Anyway, I’ve just received a price quote of RM550 for a PlayStation 2 SCPH-90006 modded with a Super 7 modchip with one 8MB memory card and one analogue controller. I intend to get Final Fantasy XII from Play-Asia to start things off and slowly work my way through the PS2’s library.

Posted in Games.