I’m writing this post in case anyone else out there wants to know what will happen to a European XBox 360 (in my case, from Ireland) if it’s moved to North America (in my case, Canada). [update] The story started out not particularly great, but now, a few updates later, it is significantly better. By purchasing a new power supply, you’ll have everything you need. And although games are marked as region-specific, it turns out that many of them are not, and so by checking them against a list, you’ll find you can purchase many games in the shops, even those that are marked as “NTSC only”!
So here’s the run-down.
Buying new games in the shop:
You can NOT buy North American games and play them in your European XBox360. XBox360s do not play games that were purchased in other regions, as per this. [Update: It looks like the North American versions of some XBox360 games will work with a PAL (European) XBox360! Thanks to John in the comments for the link to VideoGamesPlus at Blogspot where they test North American games in a PAL system and list the ones that work. And here’s a chart at Wikipedia of Region-Free 360 titles.] For titles that aren’t region-free, you’ll need to have them shipped to you. Solution: make some friends before you leave. And maybe give them a few Euros for future postage.
Buying games through XBox Live and XBox Live Arcade: This continues to work just fine and you can purchase new XBLA games using this method. I had to change my Region from Ireland to Canada before I could sign in to Xbox Live. It updated my console before I was able to sign in (this could have been a routine update, I’m not sure).
PAL/NTSC 50Hz/60Hz: My European XBox works fine on an NTSC TV.
Watching DVDs: You can ONLY watch DVDs from the XBox’s home region. So my console rejects Region 1 (North American) DVDs.
Power Supply: The European power supply — you know, that LOUD, GRAY BRICK sitting behind your TV? — DOES NOT WORK in North America. If you use an outlet adaptor to physically plug it in, the unit will not accept as input the 110V power from North America. Trust me, I tried; the power supply gives the amber “stand by” indication, but the XBox360 console itself gives you a flashing red ring. The European XBox power supply requires an input of 200 to 240 Volts from which it will generate an output of 203 Watts for the XBox at 12V / 16.5A. Think about that for a second. 203 Watts is the equivalent of, like, 5 light bulbs.
If you go looking for a voltage adaptor that will step up the North American voltage from its native 110 or 120 volts to the required 200-240 volts, most power adaptors you’ll find will produce around 60 Watts, which is adequate for a toaster or a microwave, but not your XBox360. It sounds like this guy, Mike, had better luck finding one than I did when he moved the other way across the Atlantic.
Your alternative is to pay a fortune for a North American XBox360 Power Supply (I got mine from Future Shop.) They are scarce though, so call before you go. Mine cost $99Cdn. Ouch.
So here are the options, as far as I can see:
Option A: Buy a new XBox360 power supply in North America for ~$99Cdn. Keep your old games. Buy region-free games, and have games that aren’t region-free shipped to you.
Option B: Buy a new Xbox360 core system in North America for ~$299Cdn. Don’t bring your core system with you. Take out the hard drive. Keep all peripherals. Sell your old games that aren’t region free.
If you have any questions about this or suggestions for me, I’d be grateful to hear from you. I have it up and running now, and confirmed that I can play an NTSC title on my PAL XBox (Project Sylpheed, which specifically says on the package it is for NTSC only), but other than that, I haven’t had the time to do any gaming since I’ve been back.
BONUS LINK: If you’re interested in embarking on a cross-Atlantic move in either direction with your XBox360, you should also read Mike and Rion’s guide.
BONUS #2: On a simpler note, here’s my guide to moving a European Nintendo DS to North America: (1) Play it on the plane. (2) Go to store and purchase game for $24Cdn (approx. 16EUR) instead of 49EUR. (3) Keep playing.