I don’t really get the point of regional exclusives for video games. Perhaps this is out of bitterness, but that doesn’t matter.
First of all, think of all that untapped revenue! Kingdom Hearts has become a gigantic cash cow for Square-Enix in the few short years it’s been around (oh, crap, has it already been seven years?), but before they came up with the brilliant idea of making three more spin-off semi-sequels, they turned down the bid to release KH2: Final Mix+ overseas. Why? What possible logic is there to cutting the rest of the world off from that title? The original KH: Final Mix was understandable. There was logic behind that one. The overseas kids already had the extra footage and knick knacks in their normal release, so it was only fair that the Japanese kids get a version with Sephiroth — and throw in some extra keyblades. Nothing too substantial, really. But KH2:FM+ was an entirely different ballgame.
Unlike the first Final Mix, it not only added a billion new cutscenes, features, and other bells and whistles, but it added a 3D version of Chain of Memories! Considering the Japanese, US, and European releases were nearly identical this time around, that just seems a little unfair, doesn’t it? Now consider that KH is arguably equally popular in both the US and Japan (sorry, Europe, I don’t have stats for you!). Japan shipped about a million copies in the first week of KH2’s release. The US shipped about that much in the first month. Fair enough, but over time? The US obviously has a bigger population. This means more fans. This means more sales. This means more people pissed about the fact that KH2:FM+ is a Japanese exclusive.
I don’t have sales numbers for KH2:FM+ in Japan, but if the ratio of sales remains the same, Squeenix and Disney would definitely get a bigger chunk of change from the US than from Japan if KH2:FM+ was also released in the US. (And even more with a European release!) So why cut off the rest of the world? Why spit in the face of all that potential money? It would have been much easier than developing three more games, anyway. I don’t get it. Clearly, Squeenix is more than happy to milk the shit out of Kingdom Hearts, so why not?
Now, in December, they’re releasing Re:Chain of Memories in the States, which means the most unfair part of the KH2:FM+ package will finally be available to the poor fans over here, but I still feel like there are significant additions to the KH2 part of the special edition to warrant the whole damn thing to be released Stateside. I want those cutscenes, dammit. I suppose it’s smart of them though — this way, they fill at least some portion of the overseas’ gaping void, but they retain some bit of their exclusiveness, and all the Japanese kids can still laugh and feel special. I don’t really know why they’re entitled though.
And really, Japanese companies can’t not know that some fans will just import the games and import the console and/or mod the one they have so they can play it. There are plenty of copies of KH2:FM+ that’ve fallen into grubby American and European hands, but no one officially supports that kind of roundabout madness, right?
I’ve said before that I don’t really play games much anymore, so I don’t know whether this exclusive release bullshit happens often with other games, etc. If it does happen, I’d be interested in knowing whether other games’ logic (if there is any) for only releasing certain games in certain countries is as ridiculous as KH’s or if there are actually any legitimate reasons. (Laggy development times, as in the case of some of the early Final Fantasy games, would be one of those legitimate reasons, but these days, no one can really use that excuse anymore.)