Upcoming horror adventure The Callisto Protocol will no longer launch in Japan, due to its failure to pass the Computer Entertainment Rating Organisation (CERO) board. According to developers, CERO and Striking Distance Studios reached an impasse due to the high level of violence and gore in the game. The ratings board did not accept the game in its ‘current state,’ and the studio was unwilling to censor content as it would ‘not provide the experience that players expect.’
Officially, the game will not launch in Japan. All existing preorders in the country are now in the process of being cancelled and refunded, with keen players now forced to find alternative ways to import the game from overseas, or purchase it on digital storefronts.
‘We have decided to discontinue the Japanese version of The Callisto Protocol,‘ Striking Distance Studios announced on Twitter. ‘We have determined that the game cannot pass the CERO rating in its current state and that changing the content will not provide the experience that players expect. We would appreciate your understanding in Japan.’
While many games in Japan require amendments to pass the strict CERO classifications, these are often minor tweaks. In the past, games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto have been subject to regional changes – but they’ve rarely been outright banned.
The violence and gore at the heart of The Callisto Protocol appear to be the dominant reason for this ban, with the censorship required to gain a rating considered too severe to be implemented. Striking Distance Studios is sticking to its guns, and pushing back against these requests.
Fans looking forward to the release have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment, with many posting crying gifs, and others criticising CERO for being ‘behind the times.‘ The debate currently raging online brings to mind recent discussions around the Australian Classification Board, which has frequently been criticised for archaic rulings that prohibit select games from being rated.
Strangely enough, the Australian Classification Board had no problem with The Callisto Protocol. The game was swiftly delivered an R18+ rating in 2021 for ‘High Impact Violence’. In September, this was upgraded to ‘High Impact Bloody Violence’ – but the game will still launch in Australia, one of the toughest markets for video game age ratings.
While reform may not be in the works for CERO, the Callisto Protocol decision will likely reinvigorate the conversation around censorship and classification in Japan. For the rest of the world, the game will still launch for PlayStation, Xbox and Windows PC on 2 December 2022.