Ever though of buying a game or television programme not available in your home country overseas? Ever learnt a foreign language and thought of importing a show in its original language? While these may sound attractive, it may get more complicated than it seems as many companies use regional coding, in other words DVD's bought overseas may not work on your DVD player. Why this phenomenon? It's all about money spinning. A French video game usually sells for a higher price in France than in Canada, so by using regional coding, developers can ensure that French gamers would not import games from Canada as they would not be able to play the Canadian version on their French consoles, thus ensuring that they would buy the higher priced French version.
Video games typically have one of four regional codes. The list below shows the areas covered by each code:
NTSC-U/C - United States, Canada
NTSC-J - Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, India, Southeast Asia
NTSC-C - mainland China
PAL - Europe, Australia, New Zealand
DVDs are divided into 8 different regions, labelled 1-8. In addition, there are region code 0 DVD's which would work in regions 1-6 and region ALL DVD's which work in all regions. For more details, see this website.
Blu-ray discs have 3 different region codes. For more information see this website
Circumventing regional coding
Some shops can modify your player or console such that it would support all region codes. The legality of this varies from country to country. Most notably, such modifications are illegal in the United States. However, in other places like Hong Kong and Australia, such practices are encourage as long as they are used to play original games or shows. In fact, Australian law requires all DVD players sold to be either region free or modified to circumvent regional locking.