After yesterday?s announcement of an official Japanese release date, the question of whether or not the PSP will be region-locked has once again surfaced to the fore. And the good news is, as suggested by certain murmurings on the SPOnG forums yesterday evening, it?s not region locked (at least, not for games). Speaking to IGN on behalf of SCEA, Molly Smith stated ?For games on PSP there is no region code. However, due to language and system issues, quality assurance procedures are done in each territory. Therefore, we recommend purchasing both the hardware and corresponding software in the same market/territory.?
Clearly, Sony doesn?t want potential PSP owners importing willy-nilly, and they are cautioning people against doing so. But equally clearly, many people aren?t going to be remotely deterred by those slightly vacuous words of warning. Sony has brought up issues of possible regional differences between multiplayer features, and of course, the fairly obvious points that Japanese games are mostly written in Japanese (or even spoken, with regards to certain virtual pet games). But, at the end of the day, the PSP is being released in Japan soon: and that is enough of a reason for many to investigate the possibilites.
So there are potential problems, and there is still no official word on the possibility of universal UMD movies, or rather the issue of regional coding is still ?undecided?; but it seems that Sony has followed Nintendo?s suit, and the most determined gamers will be able to select what they want from where they want.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle in acquiring an early import is the simple fact that the initial shipment is for only 200,000 units. Take into account the size of the Japanese gaming public, and the enthusiastic fanboys from everywhere else on the globe, and there probably won?t be enough to go round without paying some sort of ludicrous premium. Not that we're saying we're not tempted.