Windows 8 prohibits adult (PEGI 18) games on the Store

In an interesting move, and one sure to disappoint a number of European Windows 8 users, Microsoft will be prohibiting any apps that contain adult content from appearing on the Windows Store. Specifically, any games that have acquired a rating over ESRB Mature or PEGI 16 will not be allowed to appear on the storefront; neither will games that "would warrant such a rating".

For Store shoppers in the United States, this isn't such a problem as few games end up with a rating above Mature. However, for European gamers, a whole range of games will not be able to be sold from the Store due to the fact that they received a PEGI 18 rating (above the allowed PEGI 16). Some games that would be prohibited include The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Borderlands 2, Dishonored and Max Payne 3.

This issue was highlighted by programmer and blogger Casey Muratori, who cites Section 5.1 and 6.2 of the Windows 8 app certification requirements:

Apps with a rating over PEGI 16, ESRB MATURE, or that contain content that would warrant such a rating, are not allowed. Metadata and other content you submit to accompany your app may contain only content that would merit a rating of PEGI 12, ESRB EVERYONE, or Windows Store 12+, or lower.

Now this doesn't mean you are prohibited from installing these games on your Windows 8 machine in Europe - in fact you can install whatever you like outside of the Windows Store - but it does help fragment the PC gaming marketplace and prevents a one-stop shop for all Windows games. It also prevents high profile, but mature content games from receiving the exposure they normally would from the Windows Store.

Muratori also highlights some other sections in the certification requirements that may present problems for people submitting content. According to Section 5.3 your app must not contain content that "encourages, facilitates, or glamorizes illegal activity"; Section 5.6 says that you can't glamorize "excessive or irresponsible use of alcohol or tobacco products, drugs or weapons"; and Section 5.8 says "your app must not contain excessive or gratuitous profanity".

It's interesting that there will be a major discrepancy in allowed content between European and United States markets, based on the fact that a majority of US games get a 17+ rating whereas their European counterparts are restricted to those 18+. Keep in mind that these restrictions only apply to the Windows Store, and gamers will still be able to install adult games through other storefronts such as Origin and Steam.

Source: Critical Detail | PC Gamer

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Not only is Microsoft preventing WinRT apps being distributed outside of the Windows Store but it's heavily censoring the content that they will allow.

People criticise the EU for taking action against Microsoft for anti-competitive behaviour but without such protection what's next? Perhaps Microsoft will refuse certification for WinRT apps that duplicate functionality just like Apple does, so no more Opera - afterall, users already have IE, Firefox and Chrome. Or maybe Microsoft will prevent Google Maps from being released because Bing Maps already has the same functionality. Maybe Microsoft will suddenly increase the percentage of the revenue they receive or change the terms and conditions to block certain apps.

Microsoft is making a massive power play and users should be concerned.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Not only is Microsoft preventing WinRT apps being distributed outside of the Windows Store but it's heavily censoring the content that they will allow.

People criticise the EU for taking action against Microsoft for anti-competitive behaviour but without such protection what's next? Perhaps Microsoft will refuse certification for WinRT apps that duplicate functionality just like Apple does, so no more Opera - afterall, users already have IE, Firefox and Chrome. Or maybe Microsoft will prevent Google Maps from being released because Bing Maps already has the same functionality. Maybe Microsoft will suddenly increase the percentage of the revenue they receive or change the terms and conditions to block certain apps.

Microsoft is making a massive power play and users should be concerned.


If MS doesn't make a massive power play, Apple or Google will.
And frankly, I rather keep seeing MS on top.

ahhell said,
What the hell is "PEGI"?

Pan European Game Information
It's the rating system established on Europe. It's like Europe's ESRB.

Jose_49 said,

Pan European Game Information
It's the rating system established on Europe. It's like Europe's ESRB.
Yep, but PEGI is backed by legislation in most European countries.

I'm impressed. XBox Live has been targeted to younger audiences (with the Family Pack and Kinect Games), and still deliver Mature content. I see Windows Store as a Windows' rebrand of Xbox Marketplace, so if MS is trying to make an unified ecosystem and appeal to buy more of its devices, there's no reason not to allow Mature content on the store... Porn could be understood though.

Jose_49 said,
I'm impressed. XBox Live has been targeted to younger audiences (with the Family Pack and Kinect Games), and still deliver Mature content. I see Windows Store as a Windows' rebrand of Xbox Marketplace, so if MS is trying to make an unified ecosystem and appeal to buy more of its devices, there's no reason not to allow Mature content on the store... Porn could be understood though.

They may backpedal and revise the restriction at a later date. I think they just want to limit it for now but without knowing their actual strategy then it is just speculation. Take it with a grain of salt for now.

neonspark said,
what what? what's wrong with 18+ content as long as there are parental controls in place.

Parental Controls may not be implemented yet so they may be restricting it until they can later on? Just a thought.

*Waits for all those who bitched about Apple's no porn policy to bitch here*

Come out come out wherever you are! Or is MS immune where it was all Apple's fault?

I also find it hilarious that they (MS, Google, and Apple) block 18+ material but have no problem letting their App stores get overrun with horrible horrible crap software that borderlines on malware.

zeroomegazx said,
I also find it hilarious that they (MS, Google, and Apple) block 18+ material but have no problem letting their App stores get overrun with horrible horrible crap software that borderlines on malware.

I see plenty of games with Adult content in the AppStore. It's just porn they block unless I am mistaken. Not blood/gore/violence.

For example, I am pretty sure Grand Theft Auto would fall into "encourages, facilitates, or glamorizes illegal activity". That's on the iOS app store, and I can get three of the four versions of GTA in the Mac App Store. Other games like Borderlands, Deus Ex, Doom 3 etc etc. All there.

This seems to be even more strict than Apple. Do Google block anything? I didn't think they cared.

remixedcat said,
I just dropped my milk over this.....

eh, no big deal for you though, being a kitty you can just lick it up

For godsake! I can walk in to my local corner shop and buy porn if i want to. It's on the top shelf, three shelves above the comics like most shops.
MS, the store can be family friendly without penalising others. Just require a verified adult account to purchase or browse adult goods. Not hard is it? Treat your huge over 18's user base with a little respect and maturity.

Mikeffer said,
Just require a verified adult account to purchase or browse adult goods. Not hard is it? Treat your huge over 18's user base with a little respect and maturity.

Wow, just wow. I am so surprised why neither Microsoft nor I have thought about this?
But creating an adult Microsoft account is not that hard. We will just need how to verify it.
Any answer?

CanonCygnus said,

But creating an adult Microsoft account is not that hard. We will just need how to verify it.
Any answer?

Verification could go as they always have: Entering your birth date. Anyone can go to a porn site, anyone can create an older account, anyone can select an older birth date ...
So I see no reason of banning.

Simple, a kid can enter in their dad's information and gain access to a world that is not supposed to be available to him through deceit and lying!!

CanonCygnus said,

Wow, just wow. I am so surprised why neither Microsoft nor I have thought about this?
But creating an adult Microsoft account is not that hard. We will just need how to verify it.
Any answer?

NeoPogo said,
Simple, a kid can enter in their dad's information and gain access to a world that is not supposed to be available to him through deceit and lying!!

Or they can just go on the internet

Whoopee! Only the crickets care as Windows RT is not a high end gaming tablet.

thealexweb said,

Steam can't really exist on Windows RT though

NeoPogo said,
Whoopee! Only the crickets care as Windows RT is not a high end gaming tablet.

If Windows RT allowed recompiled x86 apps (like Steam) to be installed in its Desktop we could look at transitioning over to Arm for desktop PCs in the longer term, Arm chips and so much cheaper and more power efficient and are sufficient for most users today and in five to ten years would probably be good enough for most gaming PCs.

NeoPogo said,
Whoopee! Only the crickets care as Windows RT is not a high end gaming tablet.

I don't think so, didn't they already fully port Unreal Engine 3 over the RT? Nothing really limits a Windows RT tablet from being a serious gaming device outside of the control method which could in the end be fixed by using a wireless, or wired USB, controller or kb+mouse since all of these comes with USB and probably bluetooth etc.

As for the rating, I bet that will change, right now I don't see any type of restrictions in place to stop parents from having their kids get M rated games out of the store so until something like that comes into play (unless I'm missing something) they'll do the easy thing and not let M content in there.

Hey I did not see that. Cool! I retract my statement based on the information you provided. +1 to GP007

GP007 said,

I don't think so, didn't they already fully port Unreal Engine 3 over the RT? Nothing really limits a Windows RT tablet from being a serious gaming device outside of the control method which could in the end be fixed by using a wireless, or wired USB, controller or kb+mouse since all of these comes with USB and probably bluetooth etc.

As for the rating, I bet that will change, right now I don't see any type of restrictions in place to stop parents from having their kids get M rated games out of the store so until something like that comes into play (unless I'm missing something) they'll do the easy thing and not let M content in there.