The end of March is an exciting time in the video game industry this year. There’s the fan-happy smorgasbord of PAX East taking place in Boston right now, and meanwhile most industry professionals, from the lone independent developer all the way up to the profoundly well-funded hulks cranking out games for publishers like Ubisoft, are making their way to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco that begins on Monday. There’s plenty to get excited about: Many devs are expected to unveil plans for high-end hardware like the PlayStation 4, the Next Xbox, and maybe even Valve’s new consumer PCs. PAX East is only just underway as of this writing and already there are cool games announced, like DuckTales Remastered.
GDC and PAX East are American events though, and while their attendees come from around the world, Jetsetter still wants to know what’s happening abroad.
This is Jetsetter, Digital Trends’ weekly column discussing the vagaries of the international video game industry and the import gaming scene. Here’s a look at what’s happening out there beyond the borders of the United States.
* Nintendo relaxes its policy on when Wii U owners can download 18+ rated games.
Nintendo has never quite gotten the hang of digital distribution. For example, its eShop on Wii U and 3DS still doesn’t use a central account system like Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, meaning that if your old console breaks, you can’t just re-download old games. One of the more bizarre examples of Nintendo’s consumer unfriendliness, however, was its restricting the time of day that European Wii U owners could buy games rated for ages 18 and up.
Until this week, European Wii U owners that wanted to download ZombiU could only do so between 11pm and 3am. Nintendo claimed that a German law restricted it across the whole continent. Not any more! “Following analysis of the Parental Controls system on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS in cooperation with USK, the German Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body, it was deemed that Nintendo’s parental control system is of very high quality and offers a remarkable level of protection for children,” reads a statement from Nintendo of Europe, “Adults can now browse and buy all games at any time of the day.” Now if only there was something to actually play on the console…
* Wii U sales so low in the UK that Nintendo holds emergency meetings with retailers.
Speaking of Wii U, the console’s British career has been less than stellar. Retailers across the United Kingdom like ShopTo and GameStop have instituted a $50 price on the Wii U, but sales still haven’t picked up. HMV is even selling the Nintendo Deluxe Set bundled with ZombiU for just £200 (around $300). As a result, Nintendo is meeting with those retailers to try and keep its machine on shelves. “We’ll be speaking to our retailers directly over the next few weeks to take them through our plans for building Wii U momentum over the course of 2013,” said a Nintendo rep. No, seriously, maybe some games to actually play on that thing…
*Obscure Japanese shooter Mamoru-kun may make it out of the land of the rising sun.
The PlayStation 3, unlike the Wii U, has plenty of games to play, and with its region free game policy there are plenty of cool imports to try out on the console. Among them is the sweet little old school shooter, Mamoru-kun wa Norowarete Shimatta! Meikai Katsugeki. Developer G.Rev is hinting that the game may just leave Japan and come to the United States. Why get excited about Mamoru-kun? Because it’s made by the same crew that made the unbelievably excellent Under Defeat HD.