It was announced today that the Japanese video game certification board CERO would cease all of its activities for one month in response to the Japanese governments ‘Emergency Declaration’ that will be taking further action against the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic.
CERO acts as an agency that works in a similar way to the ESRB in the USA, screening video game content before its public release to discern who the target age category. Apparently, this screening process is conducted by an external judge visiting the CERO office, who is unable to complete his work at home. Due to the restrictions placed on Japanese citizens at the moment, it is not allowed for them to leave home, and so this judge will not be able to complete his work.
In a nutshell, this means that the entire catalog of Japanese games that are slated for release and have not yet been rated has now been pushed back in their production by a full month.
According to some sources, publishers have already been adjusting their schedules in response to this announcement, with the revised production dates coming to some as a blessing to some who now have a month of unplanned polishing time to refine their titles, and to some as a curse, who wanted their games published within the coming months.
Obviously, there is no real indication as of yet regarding just how far forward in time this slowdown in certification is going to affect, but gamers can be safe in the knowledge that the (possibly) largest international video game release from Japan, Final Fantasy XII Remastered, has not been mired in this slowdown.
That’s not to say there aren’t internationally renowned games that could be hit by the CERO shut down. Nintendo, for example, is one company that could see a potential hit in terms of releases, as they plan for Mario’s 35th anniversary. If the rumors that have been circulating are true, then Nintendo might be planning to release Mario 64 remastered, Super Mario Sunshine Remastered, and Super Mario Galaxy remastered.
What does this mean with CERO shutting down? Well, with no official word from Nintendo, it could mean that these games aren’t released in line with the official 35th Anniversary of Mario as they were intended, but instead are delayed due to CERO halting its operations.
This also means, however, that lots of games from outside of Japan might have to wait a little longer to see their initial release. For example, Marvel’s Avengers game has not yet been rated, and as such could see an additional month’s wait for its fans on top of the already delayed release date of the game.
In short, its hard to tell just how far the impact of CERO’s operational freeze will reach, but their decision to act in accordance with Japanese laws in regards to COVID-19 is admirable, and in the interest of the Japanese (and international) state of health.
We will keep an eye on the situation as it unfolds, and as more news is unveiled regarding the state of Japanese video game production we will be sure to keep you updated here on PC Guide.