After the Wii U failed to see an official release in Taiwan, it seemed likely that the Switch would also be limited to gray market imports. But in September 2017, six months after its release in other regions, Nintendo announced that the Switch would be coming to Taiwan on December 1st 2017 priced at $9780NTD.
Having been bitten by Nintendo’s region locking on the 3DS, I was interested to see if they had learned from their mistakes. Especially given that Switch was reported to be region free. I had already heard of people creating multiple profiles to buy games from various regions.
Last week I bought the Super Mario Odyssey Switch bundle – one of three available bundles. It was more expensive than the standard console price at $12,290NTD, but came with Mario Odyssey, a protective case, and also some promotional stickers. The seller also threw in a Switch branded tote bag and some joystick thumb grips.
The packaging proudly states “Taiwan Official Product”, and is localized with Traditional Chinese instructions. Not everything is localized, though, and I think Nintendo may have rushed to get this released in the region, with an aim to finish localizing with a future software update.
Firstly, the interface is still in English. You can choose an “English/Traditional Chinese” language option, but everything remains in English. My thinking is that once the software localization is ready Nintendo will push an update. Anyone who chose this option will be automatically switched to the Chinese interface.
The games, on the other hand, have been localized. Mario Odyssey comes with a Traditional and Simplified Chinese option. I could even change my Taiwanese game into English. A localized version of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is also scheduled for release on February 1st, 2018.
A second problem, and quite possibly a deal breaker for Taiwanese buyers, is the lack of a Taiwanese eShop. If you try to load the eShop with your Nintendo profile set to Taiwan you’re greeted with a message that the eShop is not available in your region.
This is where the region-free ability of the Switch comes into play. As I’m from the UK and have a UK credit card, I just changed the region of my profile to UK and accessed the UK eShop to buy games. Something that most Taiwanese probably wouldn’t be able to do. For the time being Taiwanese will have to buy eShop gift cards online to purchase games from other regions – or limit themselves to the physical releases.
The Mario Odyssey bundle that I purchased actually comes with a download code in the West, but in my Taiwanese bundle, due to the lack of eShop, I got the physical game.
It’s great that Switch is officially available in Taiwan, and that Nintendo is continuing the trend of Traditional Chinese localized games that they started on the 3DS. A software update to localize the console interface and an eShop update must be on the way. My only hope is that credit cards can be used in the Taiwanese Switch eShop, and it’s not limited to using Nintendo Points bought through a third party in Hong Kong like the 3DS was.