Nintendo will continue its time-honored tradition of keeping that one Japanese game you want from playing on your console.
Sometimes it just feels like Nintendo is sending mixed messages to gamers. Take the Wii U, which is currently shaping up to be Nintendo's most open platform to date. The new console will allow access to third-party networks like Steam, and Nintendo has even signed a multi-year deal to bring the Unity Engine to Wii U developers. But when it comes to region locking, the practice of making games purchased in a given country inaccessible to consoles from other regions, Nintendo isn't quite willing to change its practices just yet.
There are a variety of reasons why Nintendo has historically favored region locking, such as the ability to manage international game prices and release dates, but the practice is increasingly out-of-place in a digital marketplace. Nintendo is the only console publisher with region locking built into its hardware, while Microsoft and Sony have left the decision to third-party publishers. All of Nintendo's consoles have featured some form of region locking except for the original DS.
While region locking is usually nothing more than an inconvenience, it can pose some problems for online shoppers. On multiple occasions, I've ordered games from Amazon or eBay only to discover that I'd purchased a Region 2 European copy. In those instances, it was a lack of region locking that allowed to me to play the game anyway, something I need to be more cautious about when ordering Nintendo products. The decision seems especially odd in light of the recent efforts of Operation Rainfall, which proved that gamers are deeply interested in titles that would usually be restricted to other regions. Perhaps Nintendo will one day change its mind on this practice, but for now that change appears to be at least another console generation away.