Region locking has always been an unpopular practice among gamers. Granted, in some circumstances it can reduce instances of piracy, but it also prevents gamers from legitimately purchasing and importing games that aren’t released in their region. Obviously, there are reasons that publishers decide to hold back releases in other territories, which means that game companies don’t really like it when gamers import titles. So, gamers and publishers are locked into a constant battle.
Well, The Wii U takes this one step further. Apparently, the Wii U GamePad is region locked… kind of. You can use an imported GamePad to play games, but you can’t use it to install firmware updates. Each Wii U GamePad has firmware that’s unique to its region, making it impossible to update either the Wii U or the Wii U GamePad without using a matching console-GamePad set. It’s not EXACTLY region locking, but it’s pretty close.
Most gamers won’t really have an issue with this, although this does prevent certain gamers from importing extra GamePads from other regions, especially if Nintendo ever implements multi-GamePad functionality. Perhaps Nintendo will release a workaround at some point, but considering their choice to region-lock the console in the first place, it is unlikely. Just another hurdle for hackers and homebrewers to eventually get around, we suppose.