The Japanese arm of Amazon has begun allowing international customers to buy video games.
So what, you may ask? The move offers a brand new avenue for games importers, who until now have relied on import specialists, most of whom are typically more expensive. This will give potentially even more people the chance to try titles that are either never released outside of Japan or arrive in Japan well before they are localised for other territories.
Neogaf has been hard at work testing the service, with largely positive results. There’s even the option of having the Japanese Amazon pages automatically translated into English, which certainly helps with navigation.
There are a number of things to consider before dipping your toes into the import waters, however.
For starters, most Japanese games will not be localised into English (although there are many exceptions), meaning online help will sometimes be needed to navigate menus and decipher instructions or in-game text.
There’s also the fact that some games are region locked, although this is very much a dying practise. Both PS4 and PlayStation Vita are fully unlocked, as is Xbox One. The Wii U and 3DS are region locked, however, meaning Japanese games will not work on European or American machines.
Note, too, that even if a disc game is unlocked and works on your system, any additional digital content will be region locked. Purchasing digital content from the Japanese arms of the platform holder’s digital stores is possible, however, although it requires users to jump through a number of legally dubious loops.
The final caveat is that international shipping is only offered on products that are fulfilled by Amazon, not third party sellers. However, as when ordering from Amazon.com, the retailer will automatically manage all region-specific tax and import complications at check out, making the whole process far smoother than you might expect.