Windows 8 Marketplace will not sell PEGI 18 rated games

UPDATE: UK trade bodies respond to news of mature content ban


Both of the UK's trade bodies have responded to the story below, which details the banning of all 18 rated content from the Windows 8 Marketplace.

Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, expressed sympathy with Microsoft's desire to regulate the content it distributes, but questions the wisdom of the move.

"Windows 8 is proving to be a very exciting platform for games developers and digital publishers," Dr Wilson told GamesIndustry International.

"Yet Microsoft's apparent decision not to sell PEGI 18 rated games or ESRB MATURE games will inevitably drive some developers and digital publishers away.

"This would be a great shame. However, games developers and digital publishers now have considerable choice over where to publish their games. If Microsoft will not welcome adult rated games then some developers will simply take their games to other publishers and platform owners. Hopefully Microsoft will change its position."

UKIE's Dr Jo Twist was keen to point out the distinction between the ratings systems for boxed and downloadable titles.

"The recent PEGI legislation in the UK only covers the sale of boxed products (which is still two thirds of the market in terms of value) either in-store or buying a physical game online. This makes it illegal for a retailer, whether a shop or a digital service, to sell boxed product games to children below the stated PEGI age rating.

"There is no single legal system for purely digital games (or any other online content) at the moment in the UK or overseas.

"There are however age ratings systems in place such as PEGI Express (as operated on Windows 8 mobile devices for game apps). Other online marketplaces have codes of conduct in place and monitoring to prevent inappropriate behaviour. On top of that, all the main consoles and pc operating systems have parental controls (linked to age ratings)."

Original story

Microsoft's regulations for the forthcoming Windows 8 Marketplace will prevent the sale of any games rated above PEGI 16 in Europe, or Mature in the US. Because of this, no 18-rated games will be available to buy from the service in Europe at all.

Reading through an extensive piece by Casey Muratori which argues that Windows 8 will be a crushing blow to the games industry, a seemingly ridiculous section of Windows 8 legislation mentioned by Muratori early on leaps out: "Your app must not contain adult content, and metadata must be appropriate for everyone. Apps with a rating over PEGI 16, ESRB MATURE, or that contain content that would warrant such a rating, are not allowed."

Whilst Mature is generally the highest bracket used for games in the US, a great deal of European titles are rated 18 by PEGI, meaning that, although they would run happily enough under Microsoft's new operating system, they wouldn't be available for purchase via the store - the only place to buy games which are designed for 8's interfaces and features.

Put simply, a customer who buys games for a new Windows 8 system purely through the Marketplace would have no access to many of the most critically and commercially successful games of the last 15 years, nor any future titles which transgress its guidelines.

Muratori goes on to highlight some of the deciding factors in those guidelines.

"Your app must not contain content or functionality that encourages, facilitates, or glamorizes illegal activity."

"Your app must not contain content that encourages, facilitates or glamorizes excessive or irresponsible use of alcohol or tobacco products, drugs or weapons."

"Your app must not contain excessive or gratuitous profanity."

Microsoft has since confirmed these rules to Kotaku, telling the blog that they will apply to all games submitted to the Marketplace. Microsoft's PR agency Edstrom also clarified the situation for Muratori when he enquired about alternative submission methods for software using the Metro interface.

"No, you cannot distribute Windows Store apps without going through the Windows Store. The exception to this is for enterprise apps. Developers can, however, create and offer desktop apps the same way they always have - through their own site or distribution point."

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Latest comments (28)

Mats Holm Battlefront Producer, Electronic Arts9 years ago
And here I was so happy with using Windows 8... Now my only hope is that the app store does not take off and this hinders people from making PEGI 18 games.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany9 years ago
Thanks microsoft for making a Rating system useless. this can only be described with one word: Stupidity.

If you release a store you want to be able to compete with other stores. And their first choice was to self-limit their potential app library? What were they thinking?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 11th October 2012 9:08am

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game9 years ago
Can't they just put an age verification in place?
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Show all comments (28)
gi biz ;, 9 years ago
Can't people just ignore whatever MS is pulling out? Who needs another app store, or even another Windows OS? I hope I won't see the usual defilé of prideless people bending at 90 in front of MS just because they want their game in the new store.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
As if Steam was selling anything but censored versions in Germany. Some games, they do not even list and all you get is a "not available in your region".

Meanwhile in the real world, retailers are selling PEGI18 and uncut versions everywhere. This whole PG culture is just BS conjured up by beancounters from corporate America.
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Paul Smith Dev 9 years ago
Good job Microsoft, Cant wait for Windows 8 and you next highly reliable home console.
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Sam Brown Lead Audio Programmer, TT Games9 years ago
Clearly they are trying to do their bit to keep bricks-and-mortar retailers in business. ^_^
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam9 years ago
Well, that's good news for Steam, I guess.
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... from the MSDN documentation: "The Direct3D 11.1 runtime, which is available starting with Windows 8"
So I guess people will kind of be forced to care about Win8
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 9 years ago
Dear Microsft.

In the US Call of Duty is rated M and is OK
In Europe it is rated 18 but is not OK...

How does this make sense?

If its OK in one region it should be OK in the other.
You need a more flexable system or your going to kill support for games on Win-8
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Andrew Coyle9 years ago
Surely this will ban almost all games ever. Peggle fires a gun thing. Plants vs Zombies, plants fire gun things. Tetris will be ok. Probably. Or am I looking at this too deep?

Why would MS want to stop selling the toppest games? Wouldn't they want to try and sell BLOPS2 and AC3?

Xbox can have family saftey settings, so the younguns can't buy games above the limits set by parents, so why can't this Win8StoreApp thing? Divs.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts9 years ago
Madness...I think this is an example of someone writing the rules and not considering the consequences in all regions as I can't see this as an intentional action more a by product. If it its intentional then why?
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Nick Wilson Contributing Editor, PCGamesN9 years ago
I really would love to just sit down and observe the decision making process that MUST of happened. It must of? Right?
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Brian Smith Artist 9 years ago
How can they justify that when they sell them already on Xbox live marketplace. Maybe there'll be some rule changes there too.
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David Spender Lead Programmer 9 years ago
This doesn't make any sense.

The future interface for Windows is supposed to be Metro (tiles) and the Windows App Store. They introduced a permanent split between Metro and the desktop that can never be bridged. This goes against everything I've read about what Microsoft is planning to do with Windows and its future interfaces.

Want some apps, must use metro.
Want other apps, must use desktop.

They will never be able to mesh the two together now. So typical for MS.
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 9 years ago
Does apple app store sell 18 rated games?

Or is everyone here just ragging on Microsoft because they are Microsoft?
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game9 years ago
I'm assuming Dead Space would count?
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James Prendergast Process Specialist 9 years ago
@John Donnelly.

That was what I was coming in here to post as well. IMO, the US ratings system is broken and titles are pretty much automatically given a "mature" rating because otherwise the only alternative is a defacto "ban" (where no console or major retailer will stock it).

All games that are released in the EU at 16 and 18 are rated M in the US.... it makes no sense either in the rating system or Microsoft's regulations.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 9 years ago
I would not use the term Broken James.
The problem is that the line between ratings in the US is quite blury but someone needed to define the standards and tried to be consistent across the board.
The problem is that in the US they have Teen and Mature, we have 16 and 18 which cover games in both of those ranges.Some PEGI 16 games get a Mature rating instead of Teen rating but the systems are open to some differnce of opinion based on the way the ratings are complied and the different regional attatudes.

The real problems is that no one can block a game in Europe getting an 18 rating however if you take in to account the 18 rating means that it is aimed at adults only you find that it would equal a US AO rating.
Somone sat down and drew lines between the ratings and came to the conclusion 18 = AO and as they cant be seen to be a supportive of AO content they have made this a blanket rule on the market place.

Its a total shame that a multinational company that has vast experience with the PEGI system came to this blund and contradictory conslusion.
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises9 years ago
Who cares? Steam will have better games, and better prices anyway. And if Microsoft's Windows 8 Marketplace is anything like their Windows Phone marketplace, you won't be able to find anything of value unless you scroll through 400 other apps or games first.
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios9 years ago
So I just had a debate with a friend of mine over these rules and we came to the following conclusions...

Under these rules, the only 'game' that would be acceptable would be a game in which you have a stick figure... and when you press a button, the stick figure jumps in the air...

These rules prohibit games like Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong, Lego Star Wars Adventures.

Tower defense games? Too Violent... Brick breaker games? Facilitated destruction of property... Donkey Kong? creation or use of weapon against a person or animal... Games with customizable avatars? Only if you can cover every single possible combination of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, etc.....

Even something like Nintendogs is out with these rules because it facilitates the ability to be cruel to an animal by neglecting to feed your pet.

If you can name one game (just one), that meets all these criteria, AND is actually worth buying.... you get +10 interwebs
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago

So, MS totally undermine the ratings system by not allowing games that are rated above a certain point? Okay. Well, that sucks. And is stupid. But it just means that this narrows their market to casual gamers, because, off the top of my head, here is what would not be allowed on the Win8 Marketplace:

The Witcher 1 and 2
Unreal Tournament 3
Dragon Age: Origins.
Project Eternity (probably, given Obsidian say they're developing for the mature market)
Fallout 3/Fallout: New Vegas
Warhammer 40k: DoW Retribution

All are BBFC or Pegi rated 18.

This makes me gloriously happy. It's MS killing the PC-end of their marketplace. Valve and EA can just leave MS to it.

@ Felix Leyendecker

I seriously doubt that DX11.1 is going to be a huge jump in quality. DX10 vs DX10.1 was barely a footnote in the DX history. If there's a Win8-only DX12, then that might change things, but of course it requires developers to actually use it before gamers care about it. :)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 11th October 2012 8:27pm

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Adrian Herber9 years ago
I do not like this trend of private corporations becoming censors of their ecosystems. It is a serious undermining of government control, and the corpoations' censorship is utterly lacking in transparency, due process or right to appeal.

However, I'm not surprised by it since the existing rating systems are too fragmented and don't suit the global market that digital ecosystems are part of.

I think we really need to see an simple, mostly self-managed international ratings system that is recognised by all of the English speaking world and Europe (at least), that can then be used as the basis for online distribution platforms.

I know I'm dreaming though, I can't imagine what it would take to get that many countries to cooperate.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adrian Herber on 12th October 2012 2:00am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany9 years ago
"Windows 8 is proving to be a very exciting platform for games developers and digital publishers,"

Well... it's certainly making people excited; everyone seems to hate it with a raging passion.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany9 years ago

The case of Germany is the USK, which is driven by politics, not Steam's choice. In this case MS is making the move.
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Fyzard Brown Sales Associate, VideoGameAdvantage9 years ago
This is a point in which the rating system has to be overhauled. PEGI 18 is equivalent to the AO rating in the US, which Microsoft does not allow. That and you can still install the game normally like before. It just won't be in the app store.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fyzard Brown on 12th October 2012 2:11pm

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Rolf Moren Freelance Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
You can just hear the floods of champaigne flowing in the Valve and EA offices :)
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Adrian Herber9 years ago
@Fyzard: The type of game that can be installed normally (a traditional Windows app) would not be allowed in the new Windows 8/Metro/RT store anyway (as it isn't a Metro app), regardless of its rating. This is troubling for anyone who wants to make more mature games in the new Windows 8/RT/Metro App type as they *cannot* be installed in a traditional way by a typical consumer - its the Windows App Store or not at all.
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