After the Japanese censors’ rejection, The Callisto Protocol won’t be hitting Japanese consoles and screens in December after all.
The Computer Entertainment Ratings Organization (CERO) considered the horror game The Callisto Protocol – with its ray-traced eyeballs and viscera plentiful – too bloody and violent for public consumption, refusing to rate it unless Striking Distance Studios agreed to a censored edition for the region. Given CERO’s stringent measures, Japanese developers are used to making this commitment, with Capcom tones down Resident Evil games (opens in new tab) for your releases at home.
US-based Striking Distance Studios refused to make a modified version of The Callisto Protocol, saying it would create a poor experience for players and would instead refund all pre-orders in the region.
Sense or silly?
This isn’t the first time ratings teams have rejected a game, and it’s certainly not a Japanese issue.
Cinema, media and internet censorship are nothing new. The so-called “Great Firewall of China (opens in new tab)” has been implemented since the mid-90s to control the distribution of information, and it would be hard to find a video game that isn’t banned by nudity, violence or seditious behavior (opens in new tab) in places like Saudi Arabia.
But the West has had its fair share of video game policing, too, especially when it comes to violence.
When Manhunt 2 was released in 2007, it stumbled over the UK ratings authority’s hurdle. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) refused to rate or approve it for release, and American boards gave it an Adults Only rating which effectively prevented it from being distributed.
The game, which shows an amnesiac man being guided by a psychopathic killer, was eventually released in the US after Rockstar agreed to modify the game, toning down the depictions of violence.
Even with an M rating from the US itself, the BBFC again rejected the censored copy of Manhunt 2 until their decision was eventually appealed, with the version released at Category 18.
In Germany, games are subject to the penal code known as Strafgesetzbuch. This code has the ultimate authority over which texts or pieces of media can be distributed to the German public, and it banned several titles for depicting graphic violence, including the original Dying Light, Silent Hill: Homecoming and Condemned: Criminal Origins. After a 17-year ban in the country, however, German players can finally buy the original Doom.
All this proves that violence in video games is a global concern, not relegated to a specific corner.
Japanese horror fans can breathe a sigh of relief; it’s 2022 after all. You can buy just about anything online except the original Manhunt 2 – that version is still banned in most places.