Expanding our commitment to Windows Store games


Today the Windows Store begins accepting games with a rating of PEGI 18.

Windows has long been a favorite platform for games of all types, and age rating support for PEGI 18 is another step forward in a rich tradition of supporting gaming on Windows. We’ve described this support in Certification Requirement 5: Windows apps are appropriate for a global audience, and its subsections. There, we have additional content definitions and describe how the various game ratings organizations relate to the Windows Store age rating.

In welcoming PEGI 18 games into the Store, we again reinforce two principles—flexibility and confidence—fundamental to the Windows Store. We recognize that people have come to expect and appreciate rich gaming experiences on Windows and this includes games rated PEGI 18. We also want to ensure that every customer using the Store can browse and acquire apps with confidence.

Through its integration with Microsoft Family Safety, the Windows Store allows parents to be in control of the kinds of apps their children can install. For this reason, even with the introduction of content intended for a more mature audience, the Store continues to be a safe and positive place for children to explore.

We’re excited to be partnering with game publishers to bring great desktop game titles to Windows 8—including The Witcher, by CD Projekt, and Grand Theft Auto IV, by Take Two—with more games coming soon.

As the Store grows and the opportunity for developers increases we will continue to listen to feedback and review our process to ensure that developers have the tools and guidance necessary to create great games for customers around the world.

Ted Dworkin

Director of Program Management, Windows Store

Comments (4)

  1. npcomplete says:

    It is good to see a slight loosening of what is allowed.  However, it is still unclear from the language of the policy of whether 1) apps must still comply to the stated restrictions or 2) these games are specific, case by case exemptions or 3) exemptions are granted only by being rated with the ESRB as M

    If it is 1) then there are clearly many games that do not comply with those restrictions.  For example, GTA IV already does not comply and Far Cry 3 MUCH more so.

    If it is 2) or 3) this seems to be quite unfair towards Indie developers.

    In fact I had raised the same concerns all the way back in March 2012 on the dev forum: social.msdn.microsoft.com/…/961adcc0-2e94-4d55-9568-5e80540253b5

    and Casey on molleyrocket.com did later on a couple months as well.  But nothing really changed until big publishers showed interest.  Yet, without those big publishers using their influence, it seems smaller publisher and Indie developers would be out of luck.  It is still unclear whether or not smaller developers could get away the same content.

    Furthermore, the exemption to those restrictions, however they are granted, seems to be limited to games.  If so, why?  What if for example, a developer were to create a world building app used to create content for a game.  Let's suppose it was a mature content creator for Second Life that would otherwise be in violation of the restrictions since it's not a game per se.

  2. npcomplete says:

    Apologies for the length, but I would also like to share my concerns over the policy and the specific restrictions themselves.  Having a stated policy goal of being "appropriate for a global audience" is unrealistic as there is simply no one size fits all, outside of purely kids' content [*1].  The shift covered in your post is already evidence of breaking that goal.  However, there remains the unresolved case of differences with CERO and USK as I also pointed out in my March 2012 forum post.  In addition, that global acceptance goal and the stated restrictions which are bolded or emphasized in the document, are at odds with your stated principle of "flexibility".

    Quite frankly, the irrationality and ambiguity of the restrictions themselves, whether or not they are tenable, how they are interpreted, how consistently they will be applied, whether Indie developers will be subjected to heavier policy scrutiny than larger big-name developers, the exemptions procedures whatever they may be, also seem at odds with your second principle of "confidence".

    5.2 is problematic, because for example, the game Homefront can be perceived as discriminatory.  In fact according to wikipedia:

    "For sales of Homefront to Japan, the game has been censored by removing all references to North Korea including pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.[37] They are replaced by references to "A Certain Country to the North" (北の某国?) and the "Northern Leader" (北の指導者?).[38] Spike, the game's Japanese/Asian publisher, justified the censors because they said to "use their real names would have been 'malicious' to an 'existing person' and an 'existing country.'"[39] The game has been banned from all types of sales in South Korea.[40][41]"

    – and so it violates 5.5 as well

    As for 5.3 to 5.8 please see Far Cry 3 as a prime example.  The rationale also does not make any rational sense.  Why predicate restrictions based on whether or not fictional depictions would be legal in real life?  This begs the question of "Where?" and "When?" with regards to legality as well.  And clearly, if actually applied consistently, 5.3+ would ban most everything that even Microsoft did not anticipate.  Blowing things up, getting into brawls, vigilantism–even if justified as righteous, thus encouraged by the game–are also illegal in real life.

    [*1] Even this is not clear cut.  One very recent example of the untenability in striving for global acceptance is:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/…/entertainment-arts-20598262

    TV channel fined over Simpsons 'blasphemy' in Turkey

    – "Turkey's TV watchdog has fined a TV channel for airing an episode of hit US animation The Simpsons which shows God taking orders from the devil.  … It said the episode also showed copies of the Bible being burnt and encouraged young people to consume alcohol."

  3. npcomplete says:

    Finally, I would like to point out that none of this is *legally* required.  Perusing through Amazon will confirm that.  Even age restrictions are not (something that few actually realize) — see:

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/…/1st-amendment-protects-videogames

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/…/oregon-laws-to-limit-adult-content-from-minors-rejected

  4. Leland says:

    Windows should implement their own <a href="http://www.gemsparties.com">arcade rentals</a>!! 🙂