Xbox 360 games are unusual in that they do not necessarily have region coding. It is up to the publisher to decide whether or not to include the region coding in their games. This means that for some games, it is possible to buy the cheaper Asian versions and still use them on your Xbox 360 no matter what region it is (US, Japan, etc). Since the Asian versions of these games are identical to the versions sold in the US (all in English, etc) and they usually cost about $40 instead of $50-$60 like the US versions, this can be a good deal for people living in the US. It’s also good for people who have an Xbox 360 from a different region than the country they are living in (I have a Japanese Xbox but live in the US, for example, so buying Asian versions is the only way to get some games for me). A list of these region-free games follows. (More after the jump.)
Remember that not all Asian region games are region free; a list like the one below is needed to see which ones will work on a US or European Xbox 360. And just because a game is region-free does not necessarily mean that it is PAL compatible, so if you live in a region where they use PAL TVs instead of NTSC (which is used in the US and Japan) you should be careful that the games you buy are compatible. Below, I’ve linked to the product pages for Play-Asia.com (probably the best importer of games around) and they usually will mention on the page if the game is PAL compatible or not. You might also try looking on the web for more information, such as this thread on Lik-Sang.com. I also discovered this page on the Play-Asia site that has a handy reference to which games are region free and which are not.
Just so everyone understands me, the games on this region-free list are the Asian versions (“Asia” being a region that is separate from “Japan”). I don’t think the Japanese versions of these games would play on anything but a Japanese Xbox 360, and I can’t guarantee that the European versions of the games are region free either. However, in every case that I have been able to test them out, the US versions of these games were region-free and worked fine on my Japanese Xbox 360.
List of Region-Free Asian Games:
Assassin’s Creed (from early reports)
Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 3
Condemned: Criminal Origins (out of stock at Play Asia)
Chromehounds (out of stock at Play Asia)
Dead Rising (out of stock at Play Asia)
Full Auto (out of stock at Play Asia)
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Moto GP 2006
Rumble Roses XX
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW)
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent
Tomb Raider: Legend
X-men: The Official Game
Note: I saw some mention on the web that Viva Pinata was region free, but I can say from experience that the US version does not work on a Japanese Xbox 360. I can’t be sure about other versions or regions, but I would approach this title with caution.