There's some pretty bad news for gamers under the age of 17 who were anxiously awaiting the release of the latest game in Rocksteady's Batman series, Batman: Arkham Knight. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has handed the game an "M for Mature" rating, shocking a lot of fans of the game as well as the development team.
Speaking to IGN, Rocksteady's founder and the director behind Batman: Arkham Knight was genuinely surprised about the game being available only to people over the age of 17, stating that:
From our point of view, we never wrote it or made it with a rating in mind. We never did that in the previous two games... We just felt that this is the story that we really wanted to tell. In terms of creating the story, with such strong characters, sometimes they lead you in interesting directions. They lead you because you know who they are and you build the world around that.
The rating lead people to speculate that perhaps we might see Bruce Wayne/Batman at his darkest considering that the previous Arkham games couldn't manage more than a "T for Teen" rating. However Hill dismissed this notion stating that while the game was obviously extremely tense, saying that "[At] the end of the trilogy, we have every villain in Gotham working together to destroy Batman," there still wasn't enough to warrant a 'mature' rating.
Hill still made it clear that despite the dark angles, themes and characters portrayed in the game, there was absolutely no "gratuitous blood or swearing." He went on to say how:
Themes are more mature to some extent. At the same time it's balanced as it's always been. This isn't the case of stripped back Batman. In the case of Arkham Knight, Batman is at his peak and most powerful. That's why they also have to push him harder than before. You still get the power fantasy of being the Batman. But to counter that strength, the super villains are going to fight dirty and take him to dark places.
Hill mentioned an event that occurred in the early stages of the development of Batman: Arkham Knight when he was alerted by Warner Bros of some key scenes which might cause some "issues" during the rating of the game. However, these scenes were not removed from the final version of the game because eradicating those particular scenes from the game would certainly damage or impact the game in a negative way. Moreover, the VP of production at DC Comics also contacted Hill the next day to discuss the issue and it was settled without further argument.
It's still extremely surprising that the game received a "Mature" rating considering the history of the Arkham games. It's unclear exactly what incurred the displeasure of the ESRB with Hill understandably not discussing the dark aspects of the upcoming game. However, he did mention gamers under the age of 17 certainly wouldn't be able to buy the game without assistance from an adult, but he believes keeping the game "mass market" isn't a solution. He continued that:
I'm not blind to the fact that [the M rating] does mean some fans will miss out... I don't want to be oblivious to that fact. It would have been wrong to water down the game and deliver a story we didn't believe in to keep the game "mass market" or enable it for more people. We feel that's the wrong way to go about it. We said we love the story and we don't want to jeopardize that.
Batman: Arkham Knight is scheduled for a multi-platform release (PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) on June 2 this year.
Source: IGN |Images via Denfogeek and Dualshockers