Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 13:00 UK

Ghostbusters 'not region locked'

Ghostbusters screen shot
The Ghostbusters franchise started with the movie 25 years ago

There are reports that the North American edition of the Ghostbusters video game for the Xbox 360 will be region free.

The game, which goes on sale on 19 June, will be available in Europe only on PlayStation.

But it is thought gamers could get round this exclusivity by buying the US 360 versions online, through so-called "grey imports".

The Xbox 360 European release is scheduled "later in the year".

Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox 360 have been battling for a larger stake in the console market.

Both firms have tried to tie down exclusive game deals to give their hardware a marketing edge.

But the number of exclusive titles has fallen in recent years and the ability to buy a rival format online has further eroded the two companies' ability to lock down exclusives.

Sony Europe declined to comment, but a spokesman said it "wasn't the first time a 360 title had been released region free".

Cross the streams

PlayStation 3, PSP and Nintendo DS titles are usually region free, meaning they can be played on any console in the world. The exception to this is the Nintendo Wii; titles can be played only on a console from the same region.

Retailers are worried that the ability to buy a format online - but not in the shops - could damage sales.

The associate editor of games industry journal MCV, Tim Ingham, told the BBC retailers would be banking on consumers waiting for the European 360 release.

"They will be hoping these gamers wont be savvy - or bothered - to order from the US," he said.

"In a way they are lucky, because the Ghostbusters franchise will appeal to more casual gamers, rather than the hardcore.

"Had this been a Final Fantasy or Halo game then people would have been online ordering it in spades."

It is thought some retailers might buy stock from the United States and then sell direct to European customers in what is known as "grey importing".

Although legal, the practice is discouraged by European publishers as it means they are excluded from the buying process.

"It's unlikely firms will resort to grey importing as it would damage their relationship with publishers," said Mr Ingham.

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