Over at The Escapist, Mathew McCurley has an article up on the perils and difficulties of producing games for a global market.

Of course, it isn’t the markets themselves, so much as the various “classification (or censorship) boards” that is the problem. We’ve seen in the past how boards in different countries refuse to rate games for different reasons.

This one doesn’t like the violence, that one doesn’t like sex, the other is unhappy about “real-world” drugs in a fantasy game. Sometimes, companies give in to the pressure and make changes to have the game cleared. Sometimes, they don’t.

McCurley’s primary concern is that the drive to be profitable on a world scale might mean increasing mediocrity and less creativity as time goes on. This is especially true for larger companies with their multi-million dollar games that have to sell big to recoup the expense.

He may have a point there, although I’m not sure if globalization is the major factor. We already know that companies are averse to taking risks with a new IP, although EA has said they want to go in that direction (and look where they are right now).

Also, most games so far have not had too much trouble – despite the publicity – in getting approvals from the various boards, although Australia remains one of the big sticking points. Being cynical, I sometimes think companies deliberately try to be a little controversial to get some free publicity.

Further, most games that have run into trouble with the boards are those that had graphic violence, or a touch of sex (think of the cards in Witcher). Few, if any, were exploring mature themes in a mature way.

While keeping the various classification boards happy can be a headache, I think the real problem is that the companies are already churning out too much mediocre product. The real risk isn’t censorship, but loss of profit.

Crossing Boundaries at The Escapist