Censorship in gaming has always been a rather controversial issue. Yet, especially lately, the general climate could easily intimidate less determined developers and publishers into mitigating the amount of skin shown in their games.
Yet the valiant folks at XSEED are having none of that, unless it actually results in an Adult Only rating from the ESRB, as mentioned by Vice President Ken Berry during an interview on OpRainfall.
“The good and bad thing is our localization team is made up of the vocal audiences online against censorship. Tom Lipschultz is the most vocal of them, he will on his own speak publicly online saying, “Nothing should ever be censored”.
Knowing that there’s someone like that on our internal team, there is always a very outspoken voice against censorship. We do always try to keep the original creators vision in mind when we localize stuff as long as it can be excepted in the US. The ESRB is probably more lenient then what people think because they’ve been clear to us that it isn’t their job to censor anything it’s their job to just rate the content.
So most of the time we present the content as is and they come back with an M rating, which we understand, but if they come back with an AO than we have to have some discussions about what to censor in order to get that to an M rating. Otherwise, none of the platform holders allow an AO product on their platform.”
Asked what would be done if an AO rating actually came, Berry expressed his hope to never be put in that position.
“That would be placing us in a very very difficult position because censoring it would alienate the very audience that we are trying to bring the game for, while not really appeasing any of the critics that had no purchase intent in the first place. So we’d be doing a lot of extra work, and going through a lot of extra trouble and pleasing nobody. So hopefully we’re never in that position.”
Considering that, as Berry mentions, it’s quite difficult to get an Adult Only rating from the ESRB, I’d say we’re quite safe. Here’s how the rating board defines the possibility:
“Content suitable only for adults ages 18 and up. May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.”
The ESRB classified only 29 games as Adult Only in its history, and none of them were even close to the level of fanservice included in the games normally handled by Xseed. It’s refreshing to know that the publisher is willing to stick to its guns, and give us games as their authors imagined them in the first place.