Japan might not dominate the video game industry the way it once did, but it still produces a fair number of games that never make their way outside of the country, at least through official means. For a long time gamers wanting to get their hands on Japan-only games or consoles had to resort to third-party importers that often added significant markup to the price of the items.
That all changed this week, as Amazon Japan has started shipping games internationally. It’s hard to pin down exactly when this happened, but gamers on Twitter and the gaming forum NeoGAF noticed the change and began sharing the news last night.
There is a catch, however. It appears that only items that are sold directly by Amazon are eligible for international shipping. Games from third-party sellers, even if these are fulfilled by Amazon, can’t currently be shipped overseas. This minor hurdle aside, getting that rare Japan-only special edition console or game just got a whole lot easier.
To get started, you’ll of course need to head to the Amazon Japan website. For those of us who aren’t fluent in Japanese, there is fortunately a button that allows for browsing the site in English. From there, it’s as simple as placing any other Amazon order, aside from the restrictions mentioned above.
You might expect shipping to be exorbitant, but it’s actually fairly reasonable, generally coming in at under $10 per game. If you’ve ever ordered a game from an importer, this is still much cheaper than you’d generally be paying anyone else.
As for importers, it’s difficult to know exactly how much this will impact their businesses, but it will certainly have some impact. Most of these importers — like Play Asia, one of the largest and best known — do sell new games, but also sell classic and harder to find ones. For now, Amazon won’t put a dent in those types of sales, but what the future may bring is anyone’s guess.