What is/are the purpose(s) of region-locking video game systems? Is it a decision made by the console's developer (i.e. Nintendo) or this is enforced by governments?

As far as I remembered, it began with the Super Nintendo and the Super Famicom as a Japanese equivalent. Then Sony also region locked some of their first PlayStation models. Some manufacturers like Nintendo are still region-locking their system.

Do they ever exeplained why (in official sources)?

2 Answers 2


I'll quote an answer on another forum from 2015 :

It's because of price discrimination. Steam, for example, used to have all its prices in USD, and no games were region locked. Then they switched to regional currencies for price discrimination reasons. A $60 game is way too high a price for a consumer in the Philippines, so the same game that costs $60 USD will usually be around $40 when converting from the Philippine price, and so it has a higher chance to get sold. Then people started figuring out that you could have people buy games from the "cheap" regions, then gift them to you via Steam's in-client trading feature. This started a whole fiasco of furious trading and basically everyone was buying the cheapest copy around, resulting in a net loss of money for Valve and the developers. So they banned cross-region trading, and made it so that most games could only be played if bought in your region--yep, region-locking. People started getting scammed too, which is the on-paper reason that region-locking was enforced, but the above is what the community generally agrees upon.


  • 2
    The price differences are much higher actually... it can get close to 80% discount if you pick the right countries.
    – Nelson
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 9:24
  • Following-up Nelson's comment, you can see the price differences on SteamDB (example for CS:GO)
    – antimo
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 5:58
  • Steam made a policy change so that in order to change your location in your account, you must make a purchase using a credit-card that is located in that country (the card's address matches where you say you've moved to). The worst part is that VPNs still tout this sort of regional bypass as a feature of using a VPN, knowing full-well that a lot of sites already take measures like Steam's to prevent it, and worse, attempting to bypass it will get your account suspended (the same with bypassing geo-fencing of content like with Netflix or Hulu). 🤦
    – Synetech
    Commented Jul 2, 2021 at 13:22


Ok, after some more research, I found an official statement from the President of Nintendo:

"From some people’s perspective, it might seem like a kind of restriction. However, we hope people can appreciate the fact that we’re selling our products worldwide. There are many different regions around the world, and each region has its own cultural acceptance and legal restrictions, as well as different age ratings. There are always things that we’re required to do in each different region, which may go counter to the idea that players around the world want the freedom to play whatever they want."

So, it really isn't about language, but the fact different regions have different criteria for rating games and determining if the content is OK.

  • You might need to include the source of the quote (official statement from the President of Nintendo)
    – antimo
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 6:01

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