The Callisto Protocol, the upcoming survival horror game from Striking Distance Studios and Dead Space creator Glen Schofield, will not release in Japan. The company revealed that the game didn’t pass the CERO ratings board in its current state and refused to make any cuts or changes to compromise the experience for all players. Japanese players who pre-ordered the game will receive refunds.
“We have decided to discontinue the Japanese version of The Callisto Protocol,” said the game’s official social media account. “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.”
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Though Japan banning video games is rare, there have been occasions where certain titles were heavily edited or cut before being approved for release in the country. These include Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto and Dead Island, among others.
However, the censorship goes much further than just those franchises. As reported by Video Games Chronicle, Tokyo-based analyst Dr. Serkan Toto says Japan’s game censorship has only gotten worse since CERO, the local ratings board, was established in 2002. “Games censored for nudity and violence in Japan include Last Of Us, Cyberpunk, Uncharted 1, Witcher 3, GTA V etc,” said Toto. “Needless to say, censorship also affects home-made games, i.e. Resident Evil – when compared to the Western release.”
Toto further explained that Japan sometimes gets two versions of games, one cut version and the other a gory version, but the latter is often also censored:
“It is also important to understand that sometimes, Japanese games get 2 releases, one cut and one ‘gory’ version. The gory version typically sells better. The problem is that the gory version, which usually carries CERO’s strictest ‘Z’ rating for ages 18+, is ALSO censored when compared with the Western release. In other words, avoid the Japanese version of such games at all costs – they are always censored.”
The Callisto Protocol releases on 2 December 2022 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.