Canadian province Quebec has made it illegal to sell only English language versions of new video games, if a French version of the same title is also available somewhere else in the world.
As reported by newspaper The Toronto Star and French-language site Jouez.com, the new law came into force on April 1st and has caused worries on the part of retailers that it could lead to delays in the release of new games.
If a French version of a game is available -- for example, in France or other French-speaking countries -- then Quebec retailers must soon carry a French or bilingual version of the title to continue being able to sell the game.
The deal was signed by l'Office quebecois de la langue francaise and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada in September 2007. At the time, publishers and retailers were given over 18 months of time to prepare for the changeover, which occurred April 1, 2009.
Despite its overall support for the bill, the ESA Canada has claimed that some publishers may decide not to release games at all in the region, given the cost of preparing a French version even when one is already available or planned for France.
Previously, such rules applied only to game manuals, but not to in-game text. This new restriction applies to all current major home and portable game consoles and PC -- but not to the last-generation PlayStation 2.
Game store chain co-owner Ronnie Rondeau is quoted by The Star as saying that delays of French language versions can last up to five months -- with the English language version easily available in other provinces.
"I'm afraid it's going to cost me my business," said Rondeau. "If it really was going to make a difference, I'd be for it, but only a small number of people want to play in French. The rest don't care."
[UPDATE: Additional information from Jouez.com added explaining specific terms of the law, when it was signed, and its implications - headline clarified.]