The Xbox 360 summer system earlier this week made it possible for users to buy and download titles directly to their console. But don't go looking to digitally import games.
For work, I have an American Xbox 360 with a US Xbox LIVE Gold account. I use it to download games and write reviews of them. When Games On Demand was rolled out, I wanted to check out the instant gratification service and tried downloading Assassin's Creed and got this message:
This item isn't available from your current location.
I tried downloading Call of Duty 2 and got the same message. I tried downloading LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga and got the same message. Thought this might be third party region coding, but got ditto for Perfect Dark Zero and even Viva Piñata, which is available on the Japanese Marketplace.
However, it was possible to download Xbox title Fable.
The reverse seems to be true as well — meaning, those living outside Japan do not appear able to digitally import Japanese Xbox 360 games on demand.
Region locking: Good for corporations, and for now, bad for Microsoft and developers. These titles are available used in retail shops at lower prices. I shall take my business elsewhere.
Update: According to Microsoft, "Yes, the portfolio of titles offered through Games on Demand will vary by region, based on regional title availability."