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Japanese Ratings Board Shuts Down Amid COVID-19 Concerns

The governing body responsible for rating and approving the release of video games in Japan announced a temporary closure today due to the ongoing worldwide concerns of COVID-19. Based in Tokyo, Japan, the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) is a nonprofit organization that applies and enforces the rating system for computer-based entertainment released within the country. As an analog, they are Japan’s version of the ESRB and PEGI in the United States and Europe, respectively.

The release posted on the official CERO website says:

The government declared state of emergency regarding COVID-19, and the Governor of Tokyo asked people to refrain from going outside until May 6. Since reviewers visit our office to conduct review, it is not possible for our staff and reviewer to work from home. For this reason, all operations, including review (including those under review), will be suspended from today until May 6. All staff will be on standby at home, and the office will be closed during this time. We will announce the resumption of business on our website. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, and thank you for your understanding.

In comparison, both PEGI and the ESRB stated in a response to GameIndustry.Biz that their work is minimally impacted due to the majority of their approval already taking place in a remote capacity. Both groups stated their readiness to continue work without any significant delays in the approval process. CERO formed in 2002 and gained its nonprofit status in 2003 after forming from the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association.

It is yet to be seen how games not being approved in Japan affect the general flow of releases worldwide or how much the move will affect the market, if at all. With a number of publishers moving their releases out of the way of COVID-19’s wide berth—such as The Last of Us Part II’s indefinite delay—it is entirely possible the temporary closure will have few ramifications in the short-term.

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