Illegal Nintendo goods undermine DS release

Nintendo Korea is taking losses because of illegal games being smuggled in from China.
Since Nintendo established a local office in Korea in January 2006 and released a local version of its portable gaming device the DS Lite, sales have increased. Unfortunately, the company has no time to celebrate.

Pirated game cartridges being brought in from China are rising in number. They even contain games that the company was planning to release here in the future.

These cartridges are pieces of plastic that are the same size as regular games meant for the Nintendo DS, but contain memory chips that have illegal downloads of games. They sell for between 50,000 ($53.70) to 60,000 won. One of these illegal cartridges could contain anywhere from 10 to 20 games. The price of one legal DS game in Korea is about 20,000 won.

“Sometimes the quality of the images on the games is not so great, but unless you want a collector’s item, you do the math,” said one game player who wished to remain anonymous.

Games are not the only things that these cartridges support. Some contain MP3 music files or English-language listening files. Nintendo originally intended to provide audio and video support only through a device called the Play-Yan, which can be attached to the DS and Game Boy Advance.

The cartridges are not difficult to obtain. They are traded on major Internet auction sites and sold through Internet communities, blogs and other Web channels, thanks to easy search functions.

Kim Ho-min, a spokesman for Nintendo Korea, said that these pirated devices have been available in Korea for some time, but that the quantity increased after the DS Lite was officially released here.

He said the company is arranging plans to fight this, but that he can’t reveal what because it would be like tipping the “bad guy” off about the next move.

By Wohn Dong-hee for JoongAng Daily


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