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The Callisto Protocol devs cancel Japanese release after refusing content changes

The Callisto Protocol has primarily been sold on its violence, and Striking Distance refuses to change that so the game can be released in Japan.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 27, 2022

2 Min Read
Cover art for Striking Distance Studios' The Callisto Protocol.

Striking Distance Studios announced on its Japanese Twitter account its upcoming survival horror title, The Callisto Protocol, won't release in Japan. In a joint statement from the developer and publisher Krafton (later translated on Reddit), the developers explained it was unable to secure a rating from Japan's video game ratings board, CERO. 

"As of now, the CERO rating [for The Callisto Protocol] cannot be passed," the statement reads. "We have decided that we would no longer be able to provide you with the experience you need. We hope everyone in Japan will understand."

CERO is Japan's equivalent to the ESRB in the United States (or PEGI in Europe), and has its own guidelines for what games get a particular rating for a certain demographic of players. Previously, the board noticeably requested content changes be made for Naughty Dog's The Last of Us Part II so that game could obtain a "Z" (or "M") rating. 

Those who pre-ordered the Japanese version of the game will be refunded, promised Striking Distance and Krafton. 

Marketing for The Callisto Protocol has made a point of highlighting the violence that can be done to (or by) the player character and the game's numerous space monsters. Earlier this year, studio head Glen Schofield said the game would be considerably gorier than Dead Space, his other notable survivor horror work. 

Broadly speaking, it sounds as if The Callisto Protocol's situation in Japan is far from an outlier. 

According to Japanese analyst Serkan Toto on Twitter, CERO's crackdowns on violent games has grown considerably since the organization was founded in 2002. Even Japanese titles such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill have been hit with requests to change content. 

"A lot of games are censored in Japan," he wrote. "Sometimes, Japanese games get 2 releases, one cut and one "gory" version. The gory version typically sells better."

Games hit with CERO's "Z" rating are censored even further compared to their releases in the west, continued Toto. He further noted that typically, developers will comply with CERO's requests, which is what makes Striking Distance's refusal to do so all the more noteworthy. 

At time of writing, neither Striking Distance or Krafton have commented further on the matter. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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