Runaway-success indie game The Binding of Issac is apparently too “blasphemous” for its rumored Nintendo 3DS port. After a long and arduous debate the company has decided to not allow Steam’s popular shoot ’em RPG and its biblical motif and cute-yet-disturbing graphics to its handheld.
Game designer Edmund McMillen took to Twitter this morning to explain the situation:
Nintendo is saying that Isaac cant ever exist in the 3DS shop ever. I have no idea how this would effect retail but theres no way anyone would publish it retail wise either way due to the games price. It took a while to get an answer because the religious themes in the game made it very hard for Nintendo to take a stance on it, so it had to keep going higher and higher in the ranks of Nintendo approval to get the OK.
I was told for a while it looked like we were getting the green light because we had an official rating in Germany (M) and as long as the game could get a rating that was not (AO) it would probably pass… but then they went silent for a month and I had a feeling after the news got around in Germany about the controversial “Blasphemous” rating that Isaac received (which resulted in its (M) rating), it would probably get back to Nintendo and sway their vote… but I have no confirmation that that was the reason.
All I know is they passed on it due to problems the religious aspects of the game might cause. I don’t have details on what aspect of “religion” they are most bothered by, but I did hear that they didn’t care about any blasphemy in games, but cared more about religion period and how something based on the bible might effect things… honestly it was a pretty muddy response, but I did hear that religious games are far more bothersome than blasphemous ones, and the game being based on a story in the bible and being “by the book” in a lot of ways could have actually been an issue.
All this stuff has opened my eyes so much more to the freedom devs have with Steam. Censorship like this doesn’t pop up that often in games, and there really are only a handful of “banned video games” or highly censored ones. It’s nice to have the freedom to publish something that speaks its mind about religion on a platform like Steam.
Well that sucks. Your guess is as good as mine why Nintendo chose to forgo Issac. With the 3DS being marketed with a strong emphasis towards children (despite the commercials depicting young adult men playing the handheld) there is little reason to doubt that this could be why. But on the other side of the coin, this decision says something about Nintendo’s relationship with third-party developers and the censoring of creative freedom…
What do you think?