In a time of worldwide crisis, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there will inevitably be closures of services deemed not essential to the public. Unfortunately for the video game industry in Japan, this also affects companies whose jobs are to ensure video games are rated suitably for their audience.
In recent news, Japanese game rating board CERO, was recently made to suspend operations temporarily as Japan enters a nationwide state of emergency to curb the spread of Covid-19. CERO, also known as the Computer Entertainment Rating Agency, is Japan’s version of the ESRB, in which upcoming games are submitted for rating based on their content, in order to the determine the audience most suitable to play them.
With CERO being shutdown until May 6, what this means for the Japanese games industry is large. Without a CERO rating, games are not allowed to be sold and distributed in Japan in any capacity, which could see upcoming game releases delayed for a minimum of a month.
While this does not affect games already rated and marked for launch, like the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII remake, the effects will be felt mostly through the second half of the year.
According to the official statement from CERO (which you can read here), work from home will not be possible during this shutdown.
“Since reviewers visit our office to conduct review,” CERO wrote. “It is not possible for our staff and reviewer to work from home. For this reason, all operations, including review (including those under review), will be suspended from today until May 6. All staff will be on standby at home, and the office will be closed during this time. We will announce the resumption of business on our website.”
We wish Japan, and the rest of the world the best of luck as we all do our best to survive through a difficult period of time. Stay tuned for any updates in relation to this announcement within the near future.