June 11, 2009

Ghostbusters Video Game Made Region Free

It has been reported that the North American edition of the Xbox 360 Ghostbusters video game will be made region free and able to be played on any console in the world.

The game will be available for purchase on June 19, and will be for sale in Europe only on PlayStation. 

It is believed that gamers can avoid this exclusion by purchasing the US 360 online versions through "grey imports".

The Xbox 360 European release is scheduled for later in the year.

Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox 360 have been competing for a larger stake in the console market and have tried to obtain exclusive game deals to get a marketing edge for their hardware.

However, the number of exclusive titles has decreased in recent years and the availability of an online rival format has further undermined their ability to lock down exclusives.

Sony Europe declined to comment on the subject, but a spokesman said it "wasn't the first time a 360 title had been released region free".

PlayStation 3, PSP and Nintendo DS titles are typically region free. The Nintendo Wii is the exception with titles that can only be played on a region specific console. 

Retailers are worried that the ability to buy a format online rather than in physical stores will damage sales.

Tim Ingham, the associate editor of games industry journal MCV, stated that retailers would be banking on consumers waiting for the European 360 release.

"They will be hoping these gamers won't be savvy - or bothered - to order from the US," he said.

"In a way they are lucky, because the Ghostbusters franchise will appeal to more casual gamers, rather than the hardcore."

"Had this been a Final Fantasy or Halo game then people would have been online ordering it in spades," added Ingham.

It is thought some retailers might involve themselves in what is known as "grey importing" by buying stock from the United States and then selling directly to European customers.

The practice may be legal, but it is frowned upon by European publishers because they are not included in the buying process.

"It's unlikely firms will resort to grey importing as it would damage their relationship with publishers," said Mr. Ingham.


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