One of the most satisfying titbits of news to emerge from E3 last week was that the PS Vita will almost certainly be region-free. During a meeting with members of the European and Australian press, Michael Denny, Sony’s Vice President of Sony Worldwide Studios Europe, said that to the best of his knowledge the Vita will be region-free.
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This is a huge deal for handheld gamers who enjoy importing titles, or travel frequently and like to purchase games from the various countries they visit. Both the PSP and DS had this feature, but regrettably Nintendo took the decision to region-lock the 3DS. This has proven to be a very unpopular choice and may have even negatively impacted sales since the console’s launch.
If the PS Vita is indeed region-free then it will exponentially increase your access to content on the system. You’ll be able to download demos of Japanese games months before they’re localised for Western audiences, or buy content from the US which hasn’t been released in PAL territories yet.
A good example of this particular region-free benefit is Persona 3 Portable on PSP. The game was released in North America during July 2010 but was only brought to Europe in April 2011 because for many months no one was willing to publish it in PAL territories.
Certain PSOne Classics such as Parasite Eve and Threads of Fate are only available on the Japanese and US PlayStation stores because they were never published in PAL territories. However, this doesn’t represent a barrier for European PSP owners because they can purchase, download and play this content on their region-free systems without hassle.
Region-free gaming is a big step forward from the old days where your only lawful option as a Sony customer was owning a region-locked PS1 or PS2. The news that PS Vita will continue Sony’s newfound dedication to region-free consoles should be music to the ears of anyone with a keen interest in purchasing or experiencing games from around the world.