International gamers can now purchase Japanese titles directly through Amazon Japan, however actual delivery comes with a slight catch.
Amazon is hoping to ease the import pains for gamers, as Amazon Japan (Amazon.co.jp) is now offering international shipping on video games. The process requires a little bit of legwork, as a Japanese Amazon account is required:
The site can be navigated in both Japanese and English, however regardless of the buyer’s region, he or she must first create a new Amazon account through Amazon.co.jp; a US, European or other account will not be able to log into Amazon JP. The purchasing process is identical to other Amazon marketplaces, however the user must input their own address and region into the shipping options upon checkout. Like Play-Asia and AmiAmi, Amazon JP will automatically convert JPY to USD, including the estimated shipping fee; orders can only be completed using a credit or debit card.
It’s worth noting that some games, accessories and figures are still ineligible for international shipping; a warning prompt will appear during checkout if the product cannot be shipped overseas. The international shipping option is also only available for games sold and provided by Amazon; this will not work with third-party sales hosted through the site, or with items “fulfilled by Amazon”. The Amazon Prime discount on new games does not apply Japanese accounts.
Whether it’s related to marketing trends, regional culture or fanbase, not all video games and franchises are readily available worldwide. Thanks to region-free consoles from Sony and Microsoft, gamers are able to freely import games from other countries to play in their home territory, occasionally before an official release in their own region. While Amazon, eBay, Play-Asia and others have an accessible selection of titles from Japan and Asia, purchases often include an import tax, higher shipping fees, and the occasional “middle man” fee from some re-sellers.
When importing Japanese games, it’s safe to note which consoles are compatible and region-free: The PS3, PS4, PS Vita/PlayStation TV, 360 and Xbox One are region-free, but will only play console-specific titles; despite the backwards compatibility of the 360 and select PS3 models, neither console will play imported games from previous generations. The Nintendo DS was the last native region-free console from Nintendo; the Wii and 3DS can be unlocked through use of The Homebrew Channel, however the Homebrew community has yet to successfully unlock the Wii U.