News posted on Japanese consumer website Dengeki Online reports a change in Japan's Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) system which includes a new Adult Only style category for graphic/violent videogames.
The country has largely managed to steer clear of the controversy and politically-fuelled furore surrounding videogames ratings and the sale of graphic or violent videogames to minors that continues unabated both in the US and Europe.
However, the industry's primary target for concern, Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series, has sparked a re-evaluation of the system, after GTA III was banned from being sold to minors in two prefectures and resulted in the suggestion of a voluntary program to prevent the sale of adult rated games to minors.
The new system, which Dengeki Online reports is due to be implemented from March 1st, will have four ratings labelled A-D, with an additional Z rating for games which should only be sold to consumers aged 18 or over.
The A rating is equivalent to the current CERO All rating for all ages, B is for CERO 12 (for ages twelve and over), C equates to CERO 15, and the D rating would be for ages seventeen and up - for which there was no previous equivalent. The A-D ratings will remain advisory, but the Z rating will be regulated by the government.
The US Adults Only (AO) rating from the ESRB has historically caused difficulties for publishers, as many retailers refuse to stock AO titles, impacting heavily on marketing opportunities, retail promotion and brand awareness, as well as bottom line software sales. It is unknown at this stage exactly what measures CERO intends to take in order to regulate and monitor the revised ratings system, or how retailers will respond to the introduction of Z-rated titles in the East.