Play “PAL” Games on an “NTSC” Xbox 360

If you own an Xbox 360 and happen to travel out of the country now and again, or spend time perusing some of eBay’s international sites in search of deals, you may have asked yourself the following question:

“Will a PAL game play on my NTSC Xbox?”

The short answer is yes, but the long answer contains a few caveats.

When playing an Xbox 360 over a hi-def connection using HDMI, Component, or DVI cables, the game’s encoding format really does not matter.  However, if you are playing a game using a standard definition interface, the encoding does matter – you must buy the proper game for TVs used in your part of the world.

Additionally, to play a “PAL” game on an “NTSC” console, the game must be listed as “Region Free”.  This means that the game has not been coded in such a way that it is locked to a particular part of the world.   It also helps to ensure that the game contains the proper information for your language as well.

So in the event that you find a Region Free, PAL version of a game you really want, you are playing over a hi-def connection, and the game specifies that it has English language tracks, go ahead and buy that import disc – it should play just fine.

*Disclaimer: This is information that I have been told by reliable resources.  Your mileage may vary.


32 Responses to “Play “PAL” Games on an “NTSC” Xbox 360”

  • Ben:

    This somewhat in relation to this topic. I live in Australia and plan on moving to America to be with my fiance soon. I don’t want to have to buy all the games I already own again, so would my PAL 360 work on NTSC TVs? I know that most televisons here are NTSC compatible, are most TVs in the states PAL compatible?

    If not, what other options would I have?

    If possible, reply to my email address.

  • DrNathan:

    Ben,

    As long as you are using a Hi-def method to connect your Xbox to your Hi-def TV (HDMI or Component), you should be good to go.

    Now, that is going on the information given to me by others at xbox-scene.com, but it should be the case.

  • Michael Houghton:

    Actually, if a game is region free you will not need to worry about what region it’s from. If you play it on a PAL xbox it will output as PAL, NTSC will be NTSC, etc. Let’s say you take the US retail version of “Saints Row 2″ which is known to be region free and insert it in an Australian xbox 360. The game will boot up the same as any other 360 game and play in PAL.

    It’s just a matter of knowing the region code for each game. Some games work in 2 different regions, some work in only one, and some work in all of them.

  • zlatko:

    ..i have a question…u mean..when i play xbox 360 with HDMI cabel..there’s no regional code?

  • Justin Homer:

    I have a NTSC Xbox 360 and i find some multi-regional games where i live(Dubai). But i would like to know, is there any way that i can change my NTSC Xbox 360 to work with both pal and ntsc or at least work with pal?

    thanks.

  • DrNathan:

    Justin,

    You cannot change your Xbox’s region code, but as long as the game is played over a Hi-Def connection (HDMI or Component), you should be fine, as PAL nor NTSC signaling is not used in Hi-Def.

    That said, your game must be appropriate for the region where your Xbox was produced. You will need to determine if your games are “Region Free”, or at least applicable to your Xbox’s original region “NTSC/U”If so, you are good to go.

    There are places around the web where you can verify if a games region matches that of your Xbox. If you were super worried, you could first rent a game and run the disc through the ABGX360 software to see the region coding.

    Hope that helps.

  • cloakedsoul:

    yes bit do PAL games Work on an NTSC consol. if yes then that mean if i play by the HDMI cable through to my TV i could play it anywhere in the world on any TV?

  • Shaz:

    So I bought Army of Two quite a while back, and it doesn’t play on either of my 360′s. I bought them in Singapore. When I insert and play the game – which reads “Army of Two (EU)” – it says my regional code is incorrect. That means I’ve got an NTSC console, yeah?

    The problem is that I bought the game a long long time ago and they’re definitely not giving me my money back. So, how do I make it work on my console? Is there any way I could ‘unlock’ my game or xbox without physically modding anything?

    Cheers.

  • DrNathan:

    Yeah, it sounds like you have a NTSC console – I may have been wrong in my original assessment (again, informed by other sources) – you may need to modify the DVD drive before playing games from another region. I will see if I can find out anything else.

  • ben:

    how do i know if the games are free region? Do i ask the cashier guy or what?

    thanks (if you answer)

    • DrNathan:

      Ben,

      If I recall correctly, the region coding *should* be listed on the back of the game box if you look at the fine print and such closely.

  • ahmed:

    Can you tell me where I find the region code, exactly? *

  • Arash Rod:

    I have a NTSC-J xbox 360 and HDMI cable but there are no ways that PAL games be played on my xbox. I’ve checked a lot !! unfortunately my favorite games(bioshock2 – badcompany2….etc.) are in PAL version. Do you think I should buy a PAL console and have 2 consoles ?

  • DrNathan:

    Arash,

    I may have been given bad information regarding Region Free games and the Xbox. You may have to have an aftermarket firmware version installed to take advantage of PAL games that happen to also be Region Free.

  • Arash Rod:

    I understand and I think the only answer is REGION FREE!
    why does every thing have to be in PAL and NTSC ?!!
    PS3 has blue-rays for God’s sake…!!
    ):((

    • DrNathan:

      Well, the display specification (NTSC vs. PAL) is still required because not everyone uses an HDTV. The older specifications still need to be supported until the number of individuals using standard def sets is so low that game sales will not be affected – I have no clue how long that will take, but seeing how long and confusing the process of simply moving from analog broadcasts to digital broadcasts here in the US was, I can imagine the NTSC/PAL issue will be around for quite some time.

      As far as region coding is concerned, I hope that this issue too fades over time. The DVD drives in the Xbox are required to have a region coding since people can play DVDs in them. From what I understand, the drive requires a requires a region code in order to play discs created for a certain region, but discs are not required to have a region code to play in certain region-locked drives. Hopefully over time, everything becomes region-free so we don’t have to fuss with all this mess.

      As far as Blu-ray are concerned, I am not sure if region coding comes into effect or not. Technically Sony controls the specification, so there is no existing precedent as to what needs to be supported by the standard. That said, most blu-ray players do play regular DVDs, so I presume some sort of region locking still exists.

  • Jeff:

    I have an NTSC-J (Asia) X-Box 360 which I brought to the UK which is PAL region.

    I connected it to an HDTV but still can’t play PAL games. frustrating

  • Darrell:

    The odd thing is that the TV system in Singapore is PAL (same as UK) yet the XBOX 360 in Singapore is designated as NTSC-J (note the -J).

    My Fracture game is designated PAL, but works fine (bought in Singapore)
    My Modern Warefare 2 is designated NTSC (without -J), and works fine (bought in Singapore)

    So the whole region thing is very confusing.

    I am taking my NTSC-J XBOX 360 to the UK soon. Let’s see what happens…

  • Caitlin:

    So if the x-box is NTSC,
    And that game is PAL and NOT region free,
    is there any way to make them work?

  • DrNathan:

    Not in any way that I am aware of. Sorry.

  • Louis:

    So i have have a question, im planning oon getting the new assassins creed 3 freedom edition that only sells in the UK, i live in america where they dont sell that version, i dont know if it will be region free as well. is there any chance ill be able to play that particular PAL game on my NTSC xbox?

  • laser:

    there is guy in my country he changing x360 regions. i am sick of paying him everytime so there something called changing regions i change my x360 regoins 4 times but he say dont play online u will get banned or something like that i dont care about that cuz i dont have good speed internet anyway fuk him

  • Minok:

    Looks like Microsoft made a hash of this.

    NTSC vs PAL was something that mattered in the 1990s and relates only to standard def video fir all intents and purposes. Though there are PAL high def resolutions ( 50hz refresh based) and NTSC high def resolutions ( 60hz based). for std def the designations control the color encoding. Modern HD displays can handle most types of input signals.

    But that pal vs NTSC still matters in 2012 is mind boggling. NTSC and PAL are video signal standards. They are not region codes.

    For DVD drives, region codes exist for DVD Video discs and are numerical: region 1 for North America, Region 2 for Europe. So if a video DVD is region coded, that region number must be on there somewhere. A region 0 disk is region free.

    But for DVD Data discs, I don’t think there is any region coding so why a region code matters for Xbox software is beyond me.

    My guess is GE issue hase nothing to do with region codes but that a PAL Xbox game is written around a 50 he video clock rate and will not function correctly if you try to run it on a 60hz clock rate based console. So the console refuses to even try. Boneheaded decisions made by the media bodies in the 1950′s are thus still screwing us in 2012.

  • Balbon:

    Hi, currently i have xbox 360 4GB NTSC version came from US and now i live here in the middle east which most of the games are PAL version. Do you think PAL games will work on my NTSC version console since im using HDMI (Hi Def TV) even without knowing whether the game is region free or not, most game here written on the upper right cover is PAL. It is not written “Region Free”. Can anyone give me good advice. Tnx!

  • Martin:

    Hey you guys.

    Thought I’d like to share my experiences here, as I was recently wondering the same thing, and made a bad decision because I wasn’t informed.

    I recently moved from Denmark (Europe, PAL) to America (NTSC). I figured my games wouldn’t work, since they were all PAL, so I only brought a few that I was willing to take the chance on. When I came here, I powered up my fiancee’s American (NTSC) xbox, put in the first game … and it worked no problem. I tried the two other games I brought, and they all work just fine. No problems at all … And I’m playing in SD mode!

    I can only assume that the xbox puts out whatever signal it gets from the disc, and I’m lucky that my fiancee’s tv supports PAL I guess …

    Regarding games and regions, that’s because of microsoft and their geo-fencing rules that limit games and dlc to certain regions of the world for various reasons, most of them to do with money and licensing … I don’t know the specifics of it, but I DO know that America has very limited geofencing rules compared to Europe.

    Don’t know if I helped or made things more confusing, but just thought I’d share my experiences … if I had known that the games would work, I would have brought all of them and not sold them for basically nothing at Gamestop before moving :)

  • Paul:

    Does anyone know if Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic original Xbox game that PAL version will work on a 360? I’m looking all over but I’m getting so many mixed answers!!! People are saying some games work, some games don’t, some are saying none work straight up, some are saying all of them should work on a 360. My email is bigshowpaul2@hotmail.com, I would greatly appreciate a personal response from someone who knows :)

  • rj:

    Hi,
    I got a Xbox 360 from Canada then moved to Middle East(Dubai).
    And I got Nfs Run (PAL) and it did not work. What should I do.

    Thnx If you reply.

  • Bas:

    Moto GP 13 was only released in europe… Its PAL restricted. :(
    I bought this from Amazon uk.

    :(
    The disc does not play on My NTSC xbox

    Is there a way to solve this?

    Help!!

  • dion:

    hi
    i have PAL xbox 360 console that my dad buy in saudi arabia but my current location is philippines…. my question is can i play NTSC-j games to my PAL console? any help/..plsss.

  • Abel Gimeno:

    For those who are asking whether the game CD that you have (either PAL or NTSC) is compatible with your XBox Console, kindly check the link below. :)

    http://gaming.wikia.com/wiki/Region_Free_Xbox_360_Games

    Hope this helps! :)

    Great day ahead!!!~ :)

  • Tom:

    Hey there! I have an XBOX 360 Premium with which I got from Singapore. It has NTSC-J. Recently I bought Battlefield 4 with PAL from India. It does not work. Is there a way of making it work? I fso please give some instructions. Thanks! :D

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