PC gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun has kicked off a little campaign called "No Oceans". It's aimed at synchronising PC release dates around the world. And I can't think of a better campaign to get behind.
Right now, for example, it's Wednesday night on march 23 here in Australia. I've had a copy of Crysis 2 downloaded from Steam for a few hours now. I can see on Twitter, and in our comments section, that people are playing the game. I can't. Not until Thursday. Why? Because that's when the game "unlocks" in Australia, granting me access to the thing.
The notion of restricting downloaded content based on national borders is absurd. The internet makes a mockery of individual markets, because we're all here, together, at the same time and in the same place. Keeping me from a game that others are playing based on my geographical location, when I downloaded, will play and talk about the game on the internet, is just stupid.
While there are reasons for delays when it comes to physical copies of games (those things take time to manufacture and ship around!), there's no excuse for this kind of artificial division of a game's fanbase. If the downloadable version of a PC game (or XBLA, or PSN!) comes out at a certain time in the US, or Europe, then that should be the time it's released (or unlocked) everywhere.
And the retail copies? The very things that are maintaining these artificial divisions at the behest of publishers and retailers? Well, a better job needs to be done of getting them to stores around the world. Stop this nonsense of games releasing at one point in the week in the US, at another in Australia and another still in Europe.
As RPS' statement says, it will be a lot of work for all parties involved. But it's work that needs to be done.
No Oceans: Call For Worldwide Release Dates [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]