In an interview with IGN, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata was asked about the company's insistence on region-locking its current hardware. His responses would be funny if they weren't so tragic.
"From some people’s perspective, it might seem like a kind of restriction. However, we hope people can appreciate the fact that we’re selling our products worldwide," Iwata told the site, while stressing that Nintendo has "historically" imposed region locks on its hardware.
"There are many different regions around the world, and each region has its own cultural acceptance and legal restrictions, as well as different age ratings. There are always things that we’re required to do in each different region, which may go counter to the idea that players around the world want the freedom to play whatever they want."
Rubbish. "Historically", every Nintendo handheld up to the 3DS was region-free, while many of its home consoles prior to the Wii were super-easy to import for, with conversion cartridges/discs cheap to buy and easy to use. Only the Wii and Wii U have taken strict measures against the playing of games from other markets.
Throw in the fact that the PS3 and now Xbox One are region-free as well and his words ring hollow.
This mightn't seem like a big deal to some, particularly Americans, but for those living in other regions where games are released later and for more money, it's pretty important! It's also a big plus for some of a console's most passionate fans; my DS collection (and love for the system) would have been halved, for example, if I couldn't have imported games like Ouendan.
Interestingly, Iwata made those comments at E3, when the Xbox One was a console that also had region restrictions. Now that it doesn't, leaving Nintendo as the sole home console platform holder with region locks in place, I wonder if he feels as comfortable with those answers...