Casey Muratori wrote a great piece yesterday speaking out against Microsoft's Windows 8 for all kinds of reasons, but one point that struck me was his suggestion that, because there are age restrictions on the operating system's official "apps" (the giant fancy buttons that lie at the heart of Win 8's start screen), this would affect adult video games.
Surely not, I thought. Microsoft wouldn't be that stupid. That must be a rule for regular apps, and games will be just fine.
Turns out they won't be. A Microsoft representative confirmed with Kotaku today that, yes, section 6.2 of the Windows App guidelines applies to video games as well. That section reads:
...apps with a rating over or PEGI 16, ESRB MATURE, or a corresponding rating under other ratings systems ...are not allowed.
For the United States, that's not exactly an issue. Not many major video games ever receive a rating beyond "Mature", the only notable exceptions being the PC version of Manhunt 2, the Director's Cut of Indigo Prophecy and, during the "Hot Coffee" scandal, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.
But for other markets, it's a bit of a disaster. Europe especially. Here are some games that have, only recently, been awarded Europe's PEGI 18 rating, which under Microsoft's rules would mean they'd be excluded from the Windows 8 marketplace.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Witcher II
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Max Payne 3
The Walking Dead
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 3
Spec Ops: The Line
Fallout: New Vegas
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
So, yeah, nearly all of the biggest and best games released in the past three years. Good thinking there, Microsoft.
Of course, this doesn't ban the games from the operating system entirely. You can still install them and boot them up like you do now. It just means that, unless the publishers could be bothered cutting all adult content from their games, they won't be available from Microsoft's own store, and because of that won't be able to access a lot of Windows 8's fancier functionality (or be integrated with Win 8's start screen "widgets").
I'm trying to think of a reason for this beyond Microsoft's US staff simply not thinking through the ramifications this would have on European publishers and gamers, really trying, but I just can't find one.
If you haven't yet read Muratori's piece, you really should, as it goes on to explain why this "bifurcating" of the operating system could wind up a complete disaster for Windows 8 and Microsoft itself.
The Next 20 Years [Critical Detail]