Why can't I sometimes play DVDs or Blu-Rays from other countries?

map regions dvd

Surely it has ever happened to you that you have bought a DVD or a Blu-Ray online and when you have gone to put it, your player warns you that the product is from a different region. What does this mean?

The regions

Distributors of DVDs and Blu-Rays use this digital rights management system to control the sales of their products between areas of the world where prices can vary widely. Thus, although there are up to 6 regions , most of our consumption ranges between region 1 (USA and Canada) and region 2 (Europe and Japan, among others), as these are usually the main recipient countries for our purchases. Above you have a complete chart with all the regions.


In addition, there are other types of barriers between countries when it comes to reproducing digital products, and that is that there are two types of image encoding formats, the PAL format , and the NTSC format , which are incompatible with each other. Fortunately, the uses of these systems largely coincide with the uses of these regions, ( PAL in Europe, Australia and China, among others, and NTSC in the US, Canada, Japan and Central America) with which within the same region no you usually find one with products that cannot be used, (although there are cases like Japan , which has our same region but uses the NTSC system), so it most likely happens when you are travelingabroad or when buying something on the second hand market. As in the previous case, here you can see the complete division of the formats:


What can you do about it?

When buying a Blu-Ray or DVD player, it is good to know in advance whether or not it is multi-region . Before it was something difficult to find, but every day it is more common to find them, since consumption has become more and more global and that has generated demand. Even so, if you have a player with a specific format, they can be unlocked using a code system , available on sites like Videohelp.com, which are also useful for use on computers.

However, if what happens is that we have a PAL reader and an NTSC product, there is nothing that can be done, since they are different ways of encoding the image.

The case of video games

This problem also extends to the world of video games , although not on all platforms in the same way. The almighty Sony Playstation , since its third version uses multi-format systems that can be played on any console in any country. Mind you, the PS3 wasn't multi-region , while the PS4 is . That is, when it comes to playing movies, the PS3 will have the same problem that we talked about before, but the PS4, no.

In Microsoft's case , Xbox and Xbox 360 encoding and region incompatibilities remained , but since its move to Blu-Ray with Xbox One , multi-region became possible.

Nintendo , however, continues to maintain those limitations to this day, both on Wii and Wii U, and on both Ds and 3DS . So now you know, before buying abroad or second hand, memorize this information because it can be very helpful.