The self-censorship that Capcom employed for Street Fighter V was apparently due to the requirement of keeping the Teen rating for the game. That’s according to Capcom’s marketing and e-sports manager.
Kotaku in Action spotted a post on Event Hubs [backup], where they’re reporting that the changes that Street Fighter V has undergone regarding Cammy and R. Mika are due in part to maintaining the Teen rating by the ESRB. Capcom’s director of brand marketing and e-sports, Matt Dahlgren, explained to Event Hubs…
“First and foremost, it’s a product still in development, so things get tweaked as we go along. If something could be considered ‘going too far,’ then we might have to scale things back.
“We work very closely with the ESRB to make sure we’re a Teen rated franchise, and that’s the primary, driving factor,”
Directly after reading this I did reach out to ESRB representative Randy Walker to find out if what Dahlgren mentioned is true and I’ll provide an update if the ESRB responds.
What Dahlgren mentions is in direct opposition to what Street Fighter V producer Yoshinori Ono mentioned in an interview recently, where he told Uol…
“We decided to remove that because we want the biggest possible number of people to play, and we don’t want to have something in the game that might make someone uncomfortable”.
[…] “Probably we won’t be able to remove everything that could offend someone. But our goal is, at least, to reduce that number as much as possible so that they think ‘Ok, there is this issue here, but it is within the limits’.”
According to Ono they wanted to avoid offending people, where-as according to Dahlgren they were trying to comply to the ESRB standards.
The Event Hubs community wasn’t entirely buying the response from Dahlgren. Some of them provided a few examples of Teen-rated games with a lot of excessive fan-service, such as: Dead or Alive 3, Senran Kagura Burst and all but one Hyperdimension Neptunia game, each of which were rated ‘T’ for Teen save for Hyperdmension Neptunia mk2, according to the ESRB.
It’s also strange that Dahlgren would cite ratings as an issue when Mai Shiranui has been sporting bouncing boobs, butt attacks and a thong for the past 20 years in the Fatal Fury and King of Fighters series; SNK has never edged upon the Mature rating for either game franchise.
Some gamers also pointed out that with Urien set to return in Street Fighter V – a male character wearing nothing but a thong – and with Zangief in his briefs, the claim about the game needing to tone down its sexually suggestive content for a Teen rating doesn’t quite hold and would point toward a double standard. That’s not to mention that you can give characters sexually suggestive taunts, poses and moves in wrestling games and deck them out in nothing but thongs all day long and the games still maintain Teen ratings. Check out the time-stamped example from WWE 2K16 below.
My first CAW for WWE 2k16 on the Xbox One, Angelica. Angelica is a high flying, acrobatic Diva that uses the strength of her athletic legs to devastate her opponents in the ring. Being a cheerleader / princess / prom queen, she’s insanely gorgeous and uses backflips, hand springs, and bitch slaps to keep her opponents in line.
Maybe there are double standards at play; maybe the long, stiff, ratings arm of the ESRB smacked Capcom across the face; or maybe what Ono said was true all along and they just capitulated to the possibility of people being offended. If the ESRB responds we’ll know for sure what’s really going on.
Additionally, gamers aren’t standing by idly during all of this. They’ve coalesced under the hashtag #1millionGamersStrong and have been pushing a petition toward Japanese game developers in hopes of getting them to avoid censoring their games when localizing them for the West. The petition is live over on Change.org. At the time of the writing of this article, they have nearly 5,000 signatures.