Japanese gamers won’t get to enjoy the upcoming space-based horror title The Callisto Protocol after the country’s ratings board deemed it too violent and wouldn’t issue an age rating. The developers refused to make the required cuts but have promised those who pre-ordered the game full refunds.
The Callisto Protocol has been called a spiritual successor to Dead Space (not to be confused with the latter’s upcoming remake), so we can expect plenty of gore and gruesomeness involving monstrous creatures called Biophage.
It seems the viscera was all a bit too much for CERO, Japan’s equivalent of the North American ESRB. Developer Striking Distance was asked to make cuts that would allow an edited version to be released in the region, but it refused. As such, the company will be refunding all those who pre-ordered the sci-fi/horror.
“We have decided to discontinue the Japanese version of The Calisto Protocol,” explained the game’s official social media account (translated from Japanese). “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.”
According to Tokyo analyst Dr. Serkan Toto (via VGC), the CERO ratings board has previously come down hard on games featuring gore and dismemberment especially. While it has forced devs to edit games for violence and nudity before releasing them in the country, including The Last Of Us, Cyberpunk 2077, Uncharted, The Witcher 3, and GTA V, games rarely get banned. This censorship was said to be much less extreme in the 1990s before CERO was founded in 2002.
While countries like China, Iran, and Australia are known for being quite heavy-handed when it comes to banning games, the most recent incident we heard about was in Afghanistan, where the popular PUBG Mobile was banned by the Taliban for promoting violence and misleading youth.
The Callisto Protocol gained controversy for another reason back in September when Striking Distance Studios’ founder and CEO, Glen Schofield, appeared to glorify crunch culture in a tweet suggesting his team was working 6-7 days per week and 12 to 15 hour days because they loved it. He later deleted the post and apologized.
The Callisto Protocol comes to PlayStation, Xbox, and PC on December 2.