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Devil's Daily: Region Locked

05. July, 2013Tags: MMO Blog, Soldier Front 2

Tonight's Devil's Daily was going to be about Soldier Front 2's Fun House mode. It's a fun, innovative game that takes place in an arena entirely made out of glass. You can shoot out panels, which causes enemies to drop to a large spiked floor below, but the more you shoot, the less room there is for you to move around. It was my favourite part of Soldier Front 2 Early Access, and one of the reasons I recommended people take part in the open beta.

It was going to be about that, but it isn't. As I tried to log in this evening, I was met with an unusual message. "This game is only available in North America..."

I'd been region locked.

Two and a Half GBs later...

Zoom back an hour and I was logging into my Aeria account. I'd planned to play Soldier Front for a while this evening, but my original download had gone a little wonky at some time since the early access. So, I downloaded the file, all two and a half GBs of it. Not a problem - I'm not limited by how much I can download and it's not a super huge file.

That wasn't all though. Once I'd finished downloading, I needed to install. And once it had installed? Why, the launcher had to download some more updates. All in all, I probably downloaded close to 3GBs of data. And not once was I warned that it might not work. Not once did anybody say that Soldier Front 2 was unavailable for download in the UK, or anywhere outside of the US, for that matter.

That little surprise was left for after all the downloading and installing had been done. That little surprise was left for when I'd started Soldier Front 2 and logged in.

I was not impressed.

MMO Region Locking

Region locking isn't an uncommon thing, and you'll probably have come across it if you've owned consoles for quite some time. When it comes to digital download though, it's always frustrating. There may be a few good reasons but a few good reasons in no way makes up for the fact that someone, somewhere is trying to put barriers up - borders, basically - on the internet. It just doesn't work. 

Even the distance from the server is less important now than the quality of the connection itself. From the UK I can connect to servers in the US faster than probably 90% of the people in the US, those in rural areas or who aren't in an area that supports the very latest state of the art cables. And they you notice that a different company has distribution rights for your locality, and you realize why it's being done. Money.

In all fairness, Soldier Front 2 was laggy even when played with only a handful of other people. And there are laws that prevent commercial games from just being released on an entire continent, especially games with a built in store. These are valid, decent reasons why a game might be region locked. They don't make me feel any better though.

But, well, money. Aeria didn't make the game and the developer feels they could make more out of having distribution partners around the world. Aeria has to block access to those outside the US. It's not their call.

Final Thought

Region locking of all sorts should be outright banned. If I want to wait an extra fortnight for a Japanese version of a game or DVD, because it's cheaper or because of additional features, then why shouldn't I? Developers might mumble something about the economy and taxation and that would all be very sad, but it's not my problem.

Digital region locking is as annoying, but then so is being allowed to download something, install it and update it without any word of warning. I suggest everybody play Soldier Front 2 - just make sure you're a full-fledged US citizen before you do.

What do you think?

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