Signs of change one month after Japan’s PS Store allows IARC ratings

Written by. Nick Mosier based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2022-04-09 15:57 JST)

It has been just one month since Japan’s PlayStation Store introduced the IARC rating system, and the effects are already beginning to become apparent on the storefront.

The IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) is an age and rating classification system for digital games and apps. In Japan, there is a rating organization called CERO (Computer Entertainment Rating Organization), and only titles that had received a rating from this organization could be released on Japan’s PlayStation Store. However, On March 9, SIE changed this policy to now recognize IARC ratings even in Japan (related article).

In the one month between March 9 and April 8, 92 titles were released on the PlayStation Store. Of these, 41 games used an IARC rating. The games mostly consisted of relatively small-scale titles from developers outside of Japan.  We can also see a number of simple games that up to this point weren’t often released on Japan’s PlayStation Store.

And if we look at the month just before IARC ratings were introduced, we can see that 41 games were released. Simply comparing these two periods may not paint a completely clear picture, but the number of games released after adding IARC ratings basically doubled. SIE’s Indies Initiative representative Shuhei Yoshida stated on March 10 that “there were cases where getting a rating in Japan was an obstacle for developers, so we expect the number of titles released in Japan to increase.” It appears things are already trending in that direction.

There are also some interesting titles among those released with an IARC rating. Publisher 1C Entertainment released 5 titles all at once, including Eternity: The Last Unicorn, Through the Woods, and BLACKHOLE: Complete Edition. These games have been available for years overseas, but it looks like with the introduction of IARC ratings, they have finally come to Japan.

A couple of things that make IARC different from CERO is that it’s simple and free. And for overseas developers especially, it means lower hurdles for getting games released in Japan. We’ll likely continue to see a trend of older games finally getting their release in Japan going forward.

In addition, there are also games like Agent Intercept and Hundred Day – Winemaking Simulator releasing simultaneously overseas and in Japan. Without being able to use IARC ratings, it’s likely some of these simultaneous releases wouldn’t happen. While not directly about the PlayStation platform, we also previously spoke with a publisher that said being able to release games in Japan was thanks to the existence of the IARC (related article in Japanese).

NUN MASSACRE was released in Japan with an IARC rating of 16+, the upper limit of what is allowed.

The Nintendo eShop and Microsoft Store already allowed for the use of IARC ratings in Japan, and we can see examples of game releases outside of just small-scale games or international games using it. In the same way, we’ll likely see an increase in the selection of games available on the PlayStation Store.

But with a lower barrier of entry comes an increase in international games being released that haven’t been localized into Japanese. We can actually already see this occurring, so make sure to check the supported languages when shopping for games.