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Elden Ring Launch Inspires Xbox Players to Switch Time Zones

Elden Ring Launch Inspires Xbox Players to Switch Time Zones

Published: Friday, February 25, 2022Tagged: Gaming

Game developer FromSoftware was known for little more than productivity software before its first game release in 1994, the niche first-person RPG King’s Field. Since then, the studio has slowly made a name for itself as one of the pre-eminent developers in the gaming industry, creating an entire genre of game via its famously-difficult Souls series.

Elden Ring Launch Inspires Xbox Players to Switch Time Zones

From a committed cult following to an international audience, fans of FromSoftware had been patiently anticipating its latest release: Elden Ring, an open-world RPG co-created with Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin. With rare critical acclaim ahead of its release resulting in a Metacritic score of 97, gamers were barely containing their excitement in the days leading up to Elden Ring’s release date on February 25th. But inventive Xbox players found a way to access the title early – by moving to a different country.

“Moving to New Zealand”

Xbox users exploited something of an open secret with their Xbox Live accounts, whereby they could reset the account’s registered location to one in a different time zone. Elden Ring was set to go live on online storefronts at midnight on February 25th in each time zone; midnight strikes in New Zealand at 6 am ET or 3 am PT on February 24th, meaning that intrepid gamers in the US could purchase the game up to 21 hours earlier than they were supposed to. In doing so, they effectively bypassed a temporary region-lock on the game – something much more widespread in the industry than might otherwise be known.

Region-Locking Across Industries

Region-locking for gaming content is nothing new. It is actually a common occurrence in other online gaming spaces such as the fast-growing iGaming space in the US. Online casino sites often operate by country, with different deals and offers available depending on your location. The practice is so common that third-party comparison sites exist to help gamers find the best value for money where they are gamers in the UK can find a full list of various bonuses here, while US gamers can even search by state for localized bonuses.

The same is also true of the home video market, with Blu-ray discs, and even DVDs before them often coded to a specific region. Blu-ray discs can be coded for one of three regions as explained here, rendering them unplayable on devices locked to either of the remaining regions. For example, a Blu-ray coded for Region A (which includes the USA) would not play on a Blu-ray player coded for Region B (which includes the UK).

Region-Locking in History

Of course, the video-game industry has a storied history with region-locking, as early consoles like the PlayStation were the progenitors of today’s Blu-ray region-locking. Consoles were locked to regions, preventing the playing of games exclusively released in other countries. But even then, gamers found a workaround, by “chipping” the console, as explained here, to accept games from all regions.

If history tells us anything, it’s that regional releases play an integral part in the gaming community. Availability is a hot topic and one that will always be a focus for gamers who want equal access to their favorite content.

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