Japan Outlaws Console Modding, Key Reselling, & Save Editors
Generally speaking, mods make games better. They create entirely new worlds, revive old school classics, or add a bit of brevity to a title. Gamers across the world download all sorts of mods to customize their unique gaming experiences on PC and console alike. However, Japan has taken a very different stance on modding: they’ve made it illegal.
Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act debuted in December 2018. The laws aim to quash individuals from profiting off of someone else’s product. In theory, this makes for a solid law and protects developers from losing their hard-earned money. However, the phrasing of the law has led to the ban of all console modding, not just modding done for profit. Furthermore, the law also outlaws game save editors and product key resales.
According to a translation from Siliconera, three specific actions became illegal:
- Distribution of game save data editors and programs
- Distribution, selling, and auctioning serial codes and product keys without the software maker’s permission
- Services that offer the editing/hacking of save data, and/or modifying/hacking game consoles
The punishment for these crimes might be more severe than most would imagine. If found guilty, perpetrators could face up to five years in prison, 5 million yen fines (just over $46,000), or both.
The reselling of codes and keys has stirred mixed emotions in the gaming community for some time. Many (myself included) liken resellers to ticket scalpers and rejoice in seeing them taken to task. Japan has made a strong play by holding the resellers accountable. Additionally, products like Action Replay have been discontinued effective immediately.
But no modding? I understand wanting to protect intellectual property, but I believe this could have been handled more elegantly. State that modding cannot be done for profit, but allow creative gamers to change parts of their favorite games. Additionally, this law does not apply to PC gamers, where the majority of modding occurs. This law clearly aims to protect Japanese companies, but it hurts those company’s customers more than it helps big business.
What do you think about Japan’s mod ban? How would you balance intellectual property rights and harmless modding? Give us your best take in the comments below. And be sure to follow DFTG on Facebook and Twitter!
Drew Weissman230 Posts
Drew is a freelance writer for DFTG. He's the former Managing Editor of Haogamers and has been published in the Chicago Tribune and The Paragon Journal. He also edited the novel Three Brightnesses and Artist Journey: Rachta Lin (2016 and 2017 editions).