New 3DS and 3DS XL maintain region lock policy, confirms Nintendo

New SKUs will be region-locked despite community outcry

Nintendo will maintain its policy of strict region locking with the New Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS XL models.

All current 3DS models employ rigid a region locking policy, which only allows 3DS consoles from Japan, US or Europe to play games from the same region.

The recent announcement of the New 3DS models offered some hope that Nintendo would respond to long-running fan outcry over the locking policy with a region-free SKU.

But this will not be the case, a Nintendo rep told to Gamespot on Wednesday, confirming the presence of region-locking restrictions on the new consoles.

A fan petition asking Nintendo to make the Wii U, 3DS and Wii region-free had gathered over 12,000 signatures back in July 2013. Now, in September 2014, that count sits at 31,946.

While Nintendo's home consoles, including the Wii U, have always employed some form of region restriction, the firm's handhelds were traditionally region-free.

The 2009-released Nintendo DSi was the first Nintendo handheld to feature regional restrictions, with DSi-compatible software only playable in the territory it was released.

Nintendo has previously claimed that the 3DS is region-locked "to provide the different parental controls to deal with the ratings in each territory". Nintendo president Satoru Iwata blamed the firm's region locking policies on the need to adhere to 'legal restrictions' in different countries.

Sony's PS Vita handheld is region-free, as is the PS4. Region locking functionality exists in the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles, but games on those platforms rarely employ the restriction.

Nintendo announced the upgraded versions of the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 3DS XL on Friday last week. Referred to simply as the 'new 3DS' and 'new 3DS XL', the systems will be coming to Japan this year and in Europe and North America in 2015, and feature a number of new improvements over the current models, including a faster CPU, dual analogue sticks, face tracking for improved 3D, built-in NFC functionality and more.