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Amazon Erasing Borders in the Video Game World

March 9, 2016, 3:04 PM UTC
Dozens of people dressed up as Pikachu, the famous character of Nintendo's videogame software Pokemon, dance with fans as the final of a nine-day "Pikachu Outbreak" event takes place to attract summer vacationers in Yokohama, in suburban Tokyo, on August 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Toru Yamanaka — AFP/Getty Images

For most gamers, the cornucopia of options at their fingertips is more than enough. But for hardcore players, there’s something tantalizing about the games they can’t play.

A segment of U.S. players have, for a long time, done their best to game the system and paid shockingly high prices to import games from Japan, which are often not released here.

Now Amazon is making things easier for those enthusiasts.

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The Japanese arm of the online retailer has quietly started shipping select video game hardware and software internationally, meaning players can not only get the often oddball games they want, but they don’t have to worry about not being able to play them on their consoles due to region locking, a security protocol used by some game companies. For instance, a Nintendo Wii U or 3DS bought in Japan can only play games sold there, just as U.S. owners can only play games sold in North America.

Not every game can be shipped, and software and hardware sold by third parties aren’t included. But it opens a window that should please the hardcore gaming audience.

Indeed, the celebration on gaming forums was enthusiastic when word began to spread.