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You can take it with you

September 1st, 2011 · No Comments · Gaming, Germany, Xbox

If you are planning on moving out of the United States with your Xbox 360, here’s a handy guide from someone who has done it.

1. The Xbox is region coded.It’s a small world.

Region-coding means the Xbox will only play games and media that match the “region” where it was bought in. That means your American Xbox 360 will not play some games you buy in Europe unless they are “region-free” games. About half of the games released are region locked. It also means if you bring your games from the United States, there’s a 50% chance it won’t play in an Xbox over here. This also applies to using the Xbox as a DVD player.

2. The Xbox power supply is not “universal”.

Most electronic devices will work with either 110 or 220 volts. Not so with the Xbox. In addition to needing to get a new plug, you will also need a new power supply. It’s very hard to get a real Microsoft power supply, but there’s a Chinese knock off power supply available in a bunch of places, like Amazon. That’s what I got, and it works, but it is loud. There’s a fan in it that sounds like a 727 turbine. If you are thinking of using a voltage converter, be aware that the 360 sucks a lot of wattage. Those little travel adapters won’t cut it.

Cleared for take-off.

3. Some Xbox Live content is region locked.No DLC for you!

Microsoft rolls out content to regions differently. That means some downloadable content may not be available, or is different. Any downloaded content you have on your hard disk will continue to work fine, even if it’s the kind of content that needs to validate with Xbox Live. The Xbox Live licensing check will succeed without issue from a non-US internet address. However, if you need to re-download locked content, if will give you a vague error about the download failing at the 99% point.

4. If you have an HD television, you won’t have to worry about PAL/NTSC nonsense.

That’s what we got, and our US Xbox works without issue. We use HDMI to connect the Xbox. If you are using a standard definition PAL TV, you’re on your own. I have no idea about those.

5. Playing on Xbox Live with your American friends will usually work great.

I’ve played a variety of games with my US friends, and we’ve not had any issues with lag or voice quality. At least no more so than when I was playing in New York City. In fact, it works remarkably well. From big budget titles, to Xbox Live Arcade games, performance is as good as the quality of your internet connection.

In a nutshell

If you pack up your Xbox and games and move to Europe, if you get an HD television and pick up a power supply, you’ll be able to play everything you have, including on Xbox Live, without problems. You may not be able to buy some games locally, however, and some Xbox Live content may not be available.

You can get around the issue of the Xbox Live content by setting up a router with DD-WRT and using a VPN account, like StrongVPN to make your internet traffic look like it is coming from the United States. This is useful in general for accessing US only content on Pandora or Netflix as well. I’ll cover that in a later post. I had to put the Xbox on the VPN in order to successfully re-download some Gears of War 2 map packs, for instance. That’s the only content that I’ve had issues with so far. I’ve never needed to play games over the VPN.

The issue of getting new games is harder. If you’re clever, you find a good friend living in the U.S. who can receive the games for you, get rid of the box, and drop the disc and booklet in a media mailer, and pay $5 for air mail. You’d probably get the games in a week or so. Note that this suggestion is a purely hypothetical one, as you really should pay duty on such things, and some games may be banned in the country you are in. I would never do such a thing myself. Anyone who comments otherwise is probably confused.

If you have specific questions or recommendations, add them in the comments.

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