In Japan, GTA Chinatown Wars is First DS Game to Receive Adults Only Rating

July 7, 2009 -

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has been tagged with a "Z" rating (adults only) for the Japanese market, reports Siliconera:

All of the Grand Theft Auto games have been rated CERO Z so this isn’t really a shocker. However, Chinatown Wars will be the first Nintendo DS game with the rating and the second CERO Z game on a Nintendo platform. Killer 7 from Capcom is the other CERO Z rated game on Nintendo hardware.

CERO is the Japanese equivalent of the ESRB.

Via: Kotaku

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GTA Chinatown Wars Sales Are a Major Disappointment

April 17, 2009 -

Sales of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars have been a major disappointment, according to Silicon Alley Insider.

Citing data released yesterday by NPD group, SAI reports that only 88,704 units of the critically-acclaimed DS game were purchased in March. Published estimates by video game industry analysts had suggested that GTA: Chinatown Wars would sell in the 200,000 - 450,000 range:

So how did Take-Two flub a sure thing? Chinatown Wars was built for the wrong console. The title -- whose gameplay centers around drug dealing, cold-blooded murder, and sex -- is only available on the Nintendo DS, who's primary audience is children. Parents refused to let their kids play, and the adult DS audience just isn't that big...

 

Chinatown Wars may yet find life down the road, but all in all a rare misstep from Take-Two. And the winner here might actually be Sony (SNE): The Chinatown Wars disaster will likely scare other publishers away from making new adult-themed games for the Nintendo DS. Some may redirect efforts towards Sony's PSP, which targets a somewhat older crowd.

Reacting to the poor numbers put up by GTA:CW, Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz reduced earnings estimates for Publisher Take-Two Interactive:

What Happened? Take-Two exported their most valuable IP onto the most widely distributed gaming platform, and created the most highly-rated title in the history of that platform...

 

The disappointing first month sales reinforce our view that achieving meaningful success on Nintendo platforms remains a very difficult proposition for third party publishers.

Germany: Extra Age Warning Labels on Mature Games?

March 31, 2009 -

In the aftermath of this month's horrific Winnenden school shooting, criticism of violent video games in Germany has hit a fever pitch.

Although there are no details on the origin of this photo, it appears to show an extra age warning label slapped onto Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Germany's official USK label can be seen at lower left.

Are German retailers doubling up on age warnings?

Via: GoNintendo

Thanks to: Sharp-eyed GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen...

38 comments

Chinatown Wars Cover Gets Nintendo Power Yanked From School Library; ACLU Steps In

March 24, 2009 -

The American Civil Liberties Union has intervened after a middle school library in Ohio removed the November, 2008 issue of Nintendo Power.

The issue, which features a gun-toting female character from Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, was taken out of circulation at the Roxboro Middle School Library at the direction of Principal Brian Sharosky, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

However, ACLU of Ohio executive director Christine Link argued that the magazine should not have been banned from the library:

Literature should not be removed from a school library simply because one person may find it inappropriate... [the school board should] immediately order that the magazine be reinstated.

Despite Link's argument, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board has backed the principal's decision to remove Nintendo Power #234. With legal action on the matter increasingly likely, legal director Jeff Gamso offered the ACLU's position:

The principal doesn't get to say, 'Whatever I say goes.' There's got to be some mechanism by which decisions are made and a process of review. Or maybe tomorrow it'll be ' "Hamlet" -- that's an iffy play.'

UPDATE: Liz Surette of GamesLaw has provided a legal analysis of the issues in this case:

This situation is almost exactly like a case called Board of Education v. Pico, in which parents petitioned the school board to remove specific books that were “improper fare for school students” or “just plain filthy”.

The Supreme Court held that once a publication is in a school library, it may not be removed just because it is thought objectionable. The school board may decide which books and periodicals to purchase, but once they are made available on the shelves the children have a right to access that information. If the removal was motivated by a desire to deny students access to ideas with which the school disagrees, then it is unconstitutional.

However, the Court also said that the First Amendment is not implicated if the materials are removed because they are "pervasively vulgar" or if the decision was "otherwise based solely upon the 'educational suitability' of the books". The key fight here will be whether the principal removed NP for partisan/political reasons. I could go into much more detail about the policy rationale behind Pico and tensions with later cases, but suffice it to say that based on precedent the ACLU would surely win if they could prove that the principal pulled the mag just because he found it offensive or disagreeable.

65 comments

NY Times: GTA Chinatown Wars One of "Most Important" Games

March 23, 2009 -

The release of GTA Chinatown Wars for the Nintendo DS is a defining moment for video games, writes Seth Schiesel of the New York Times.

While video games have been incorporating more mature themes for at least a decade, the NYT's game critic views the arrival of Grand Theft Auto on the generally kid-centric handheld as a definitive statement that the medium is no longer for children only.

What makes [GTA Chinatown Wars] so significant is the system it has been made for, Nintendo’s hand-held DS... [so far] the DS has found its most fervent customers among children.

Yet like “Scarface,” “Goodfellas” and other gangster movies, Chinatown Wars is definitely not for children. Recent Grand Theft Auto games go quite a bit further in their references to hedonism (some might call it depravity) than almost anything coming out of Hollywood...

With Rockstar making Chinatown Wars exclusively for the DS, and with Nintendo approving the game for its system, the two companies are making a bold and vital statement to the public. Chinatown Wars is likely to force many to realize that just because something is called a video game does not mean it is appropriate for children...

 

This is a crucial moment in the maturation of both the game industry and in the mass public conception of what a game is and can be. In just the last few years games have gone from the whipping boy of politicians to a somewhat grudgingly accepted element of popular culture. But there is still a long way to go...

 
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E. Zachary KnightThe Daily WTF has a nice run down of some of the impact to software that the US Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage has. http://thedailywtf.com/articles/i-m-not-married-to-the-idea07/02/2015 - 7:45am
MechaCrashGee, how did people ever get the idea Gaters are morons who argue in bad faith? It's such a mystery.07/02/2015 - 7:03am
E. Zachary KnightGoth, again, no one is saying that we shouldn't be writig uncomfortable subject matter. What people are saying is that chances are you are going to write it poorly so it would be better to not have done it at all.07/02/2015 - 7:00am
Goth_Skunkdiscussed or portrayed in an expressive medium. Such an opinion only serves to stifle discussion. And as I said before, the only thing not worth talking about is what shouldn't be talked about.07/02/2015 - 6:50am
Goth_Skunk@Info: The same reason why I would entertain the notion that the Wired article writer could be right: Curiosity. Except in this case, I'm not curious at all. I'm not interested in hearing anyone's opinion on why uncomfortable subject matter shouldn't be07/02/2015 - 6:49am
IvresseI think the problem with the Batmobile is that they made it a core aspect of the game that you have to do continuously. If it was basically a couple of side games that were needed for secret stuff or a couple of times in the main game, it would be fine.07/02/2015 - 5:38am
Infophile@Goth: If you're not willing to entertain the idea you might be wrong, fine. That's your right. But why should anyone else entertain the idea that you might be right? If they go by the same logic, they already know you're wrong, so why listen to you?07/02/2015 - 3:53am
MattsworknameEh, I love the new batmobile personally, it's a blast to mess aroudn with. Plus, the game is set in a situation that mroe or less leaves batman with no choice but to go full force. And even then, it still shows him doing all he can to limit casualties.07/01/2015 - 11:38pm
Andrew EisenAgreed. Luckily, we don't seem to be in danger of that of late. No one's suggesting, for example, that tanks shouldn't be in video games, only that the tank in Arkham Knight is poorly implemented and out of place from a characterization standpoint.07/01/2015 - 11:27pm
MattsworknameConfederate flag, Relgious organizations, etc etc. Andrew isnt[ wrong, just remember not to let that mentality lead to censorship.07/01/2015 - 11:20pm
Mattsworknamefind offensive or disturbing, and that mindset leads to censorship. It's all well and good to say "This would be better IF", just so long as we remember not to let it slide into "This is offensive, REMOVE IT". IE , the current issues surroundign the07/01/2015 - 11:19pm
MattsworknameAndrew and goth both have points, and to that point, I'll say. Saying somethign is improved by changing something isn't a problem, on that I agree with , but at the same time, on of the issues we have in our society is that we want to simply remove things07/01/2015 - 11:18pm
Andrew EisenSee? Suggestions for improvements that involve taking things away do not mean the work is garbage or performing poorly, critically or commercially.07/01/2015 - 9:29pm
Andrew EisenSkyward Sword is spiff-a-rific but it would be an improved experience if the game didn't explain what each item and rupee was every single time you picked them up!07/01/2015 - 9:27pm
Andrew EisenHere's another: De Blob is a ton of fun but it would be improved without motion controls. Incidentally, THQ heard our cries, removed motion controls for the sequel and it was a better game for it!07/01/2015 - 9:24pm
Andrew EisenI'll give you an example: Arkham Knight is a ton of fun but the tank sucks and the game would be even better without it.07/01/2015 - 9:23pm
Goth_SkunkWell clearly we're diametrically opposed about that.07/01/2015 - 9:03pm
Andrew EisenNot even remotely true.07/01/2015 - 8:59pm
Goth_SkunkIt is, if the suggestion involves taking something away from a product in order to make it better.07/01/2015 - 8:49pm
Andrew EisenOffering suggestions for improvement does not mean that the work in question is garbage or not doing fine.07/01/2015 - 8:21pm
 

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