The region settings are configured via the OS not the firmware (unless on a few models it is). The concept of an OS based region coding lends itselft to a few benefits.
1) Software based coding can be overriden... somehow.
2) Can be made universal... with a few modifications with custom code and (occasionally) hardware mods
Case in point: back up 2 or so years ago. Computer DVD-ROM drives had just been released for PCs, but not for Macs. Several months after the PC release, the Mac drives came out (I belive they were called Superdrives or something). A lot of Mac / Linux users got pissed with the expensive drives Apple was forcing Mac users to pay for a DVD drive reader only. They also hated the region coding. They thought that it was really stupid to pay over $300 for a drive when only $100 was necessary for the PC. So this group got a couple of Unix/Linux users to write so code to override the region coding and somehow created drivers for the drive. The drives couldn't just be plugged in, so they had to create mod chips and interfaces for the motherboard and the drive (think PS/2 mod chips with the soddering).
Aside from the voiding of the warranty, they were successful. I don't know what happend to them as the whole concept became meaningless after a while when dvd drive prices came down.