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Nintendo defends Wii U region locking after Xbox One reversal

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Gallery Photo: Nintendo Wii U hands-on pictures
Gallery Photo: Nintendo Wii U hands-on pictures

After Facebook and Twitter campaigns, an online petition, and even a Miiverse outcry all calling for Nintendo to remove region locking from the Wii U, the company is defending its decision to keep it in place. In an interview with IGN, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said that the regional restrictions imposed on the company's latest home console are the result of legal and cultural issues.

"I hope that game fans can understand that the industry isn't doing this solely out of business ego," Iwata told IGN. "There are some reasons behind it." The president essentially said that Nintendo's hands are tied because it needs to comply with different rules for content in different countries. "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," he said.

"There are some reasons behind it."

Nintendo's justification for the restrictions — which prevent Wii U games sold in Japan from working on US consoles and vice versa — come on the heels of Microsoft repealing region-locking on its upcoming Xbox One console. Sony's PlayStation 4 will be region free, as the PlayStation 3 was. Nintendo hardware, from the original Nintendo Entertainment System to the previous-generation Wii, has by and large been region locked and recently online services have been as well.

Cultural and legal reasons might be Nintendo's stated reasons for region locking, but the more traditional issues of managing regional pricing fluctuations and piracy could be the company's underlying motivation. Either way, it doesn't look like Nintendo has any intention of doing away with region locking on the Wii U anytime soon, if ever.