News from Lik Sang
According to Marc Nix on IGN PS3, Phil Harrison of Sony dropped the shocker of the week at the GDC, right after addressing the firm's keynote. The information has been corroborated by Billy Berghammer, from GameInformer, who reported that the discussion had actually taken place during an exclusive press Q&A luncheon organized by Sony themselves [Editor: I'm wondering what they ate]. Now what that information is? you may ask. No region-lock on PlayStation 3. Now do I have your attention? Or should I write in capital letters with tons of exclamation points at the end of my sentence?
After hearing about this, IGN's Marc Nix went ahead speculating to the best of his ability: "The move was not unexpected, as SCE had previously mentioned considering the possibility of opening up the region structure for PS3 games recently (the newly-released PSP system has but does not use a region code system for games, but that's more a standard for portable games than a new development for region-free gaming.) The system is, amongst other things, hoped to help combat piracy - many import fans "chip" their consoles with region-free mod chips to play import games, and while that desire has some legitimacy, it also opens the doors for pirates to release illegal copies of games. (Funnily enough, it's most often easier to run illegal games on a console than it is to run legit games from other countries due to the way most mod chips work, leading to a slippery slope for importers hoping to stay legit but finding the road difficult to maneuver.) Region-free gaming also allows game publishers to release games across the globe simultaneously, either through e-distribution or on disc. The capacity of Blu-Ray had previously been mentioned to allow for multiple languages of a game to be encoded onto the same massive-capacity disc.
The one caveat of this new region-free structure is that games made for specific regions' electrical and TV standards may have problems on your TV set. A PAL PS3 game, for instance, will have difficulty running on an NTSC TV, unless the developers have thought ahead and planned for that issue. It is currently unknown how the PS3 will cope with this problem (whether there will be a warning when you run an import about possible TV incompatibility, or if possibly there might be a no-play screen for incompatible games depending on your PS3's TV settings.) Luckily, modern HDTV standards go a long way towards making that problem moot. Also, games made in other countries will naturally only have the text and dialog it is programmed with, so don't put your pre-orders down so fast on all of those Japanese RPGs and Dragon Ball if you don't know a lick of kanji, because English will only be in if the developers have planned for it. (It's unknown if there will be any type of "patching" system for multi-language releases, although that might be possible on supported games post-release now that the PS3 is carrying its massive HDD and flash memory support.)"
Read the rest of the Massive article at Lik Sang
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