The latest Sony rumblings to be doing the rounds is this story that the PS3 will be dropping the traditional region coding from the next gen games, citing the fact that the worldwide HDTV standards will mean no PAL/NTSC compatibility problems, even if most TVs have been compatible with both for several years now. As nice as it would be though, I just can’t see it happening.
The first thing is that Sony have a nice thing going with the UK prices (call it what you want, but I’m going to call it ‘price fixing’), so why on Earth would SCEE give up on people handing them £40 a time to let them go and give SCEA £25 for the same thing a few months earlier. Just look at the hissy fit they threw over the whole PSP import story – suing stores that sold imports, preventing foreign retailers from sending them to the UK, etc. Letting the machine play imports would just make it look like they were endorsing it. Good for gamers of course, but they’re not going to risk their bottom line like that.
It’s not without its benefits for Sony to take this course of action, however. Although it’s been illegal to chip a PS2 in the UK since last June (BBC: UK bans PlayStation chipping) it’s not too tough to get it done, as I did back in December. I’m a good lad who uses it for imports but if the console could natively play them the only reason anyone’s going to get one is to play pirated games, giving Sony complete impunity to go after people who were doing it and getting it done. If you look at most modchip sites they pretty much only push the capacity to play imports, so how do they market it without admitting the most common purpose?
What would be nice is if they take a leaf out of Microsoft’s book with the original Xbox, where although the vast majority of games had region coding, MS let developers choose to leave it out which a surprisingly high number chose to do. By allowing them to ditch it when they want to stuff that’s unlikely to ever make it over here could be region free, allowing us to jump online and order it. That would go towards avoid our missing out completely on great stuff like Katamari Damacy while also skipping odd decisions like bringing out a special edition of Xenosaga II when the first game never even reached the UK.
So is this another pie in the sky Sony idea to add to the list of things like ‘Reality Synthesizer’, ‘Emotion Engine’, 1080p on two displays, 120fps games, home entertainment hubs, Toy Story in real time, special export licences because of supercomputer status, and the Killzone 2 trailer? I’m betting so, but it would definitely be nice.