25 December 2023
Epic Games makes a policy change to allow blockchain games with an “Adults Only” rating on its online store, signaling a step towards mainstream acceptance and adoption of web3 gaming.
Epic Games, the popular video game developer and publisher, has made a significant policy change by announcing that it will list games with an “Adults Only” rating on its online store if the rating is solely due to the utilization of blockchain or NFT technology. This decision comes after Epic Games temporarily removed blockchain games “Gods Unchained” and “Striker Manager 3” from its store when they received the “Adults Only” rating. The move has been seen as a step in the right direction for the mainstream acceptance and adoption of web3 gaming, which has faced resistance from the traditional gaming industry.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), responsible for assigning ratings to video games, classifies games with an “Adults Only” rating as suitable only for users aged 18 and above. The next classification down, “Mature,” is meant for games suitable for gamers aged 17 and above. The ESRB’s rating system helps inform consumers about the content and age-appropriateness of games.
Web3 gaming, which incorporates blockchain technology and allows players to own and trade digital assets, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), is still a relatively new sector compared to traditional gaming. While the sector has yet to deliver a major commercial hit, the recent clearance of blockchain games on distribution platforms like the Epic Game Store, Amazon Prime, and the Apple App Store has been celebrated within the industry.
A Step Towards Mainstream Acceptance
The decision by Epic Games to allow blockchain games with an “Adults Only” rating on its store has been hailed as a step towards mainstream acceptance and adoption of web3 gaming. Justin Edwards, head of gaming at Telos, believes that this move enhances the legitimacy of web3 games and addresses the tension and resistance from the traditional gaming industry.
Celebrating the Return of “Gods Unchained”
Immutable Games, the studio behind “Gods Unchained,” expressed their pleasure with Epic Games’ decision to allow the game back on the platform. Justin Hulog, chief studio officer at Immutable Games, looks forward to ongoing conversations with ratings boards and distribution platforms, emphasizing the need for collaboration and understanding between the web3 gaming sector and established industry players.
The ESRB as an Obstacle for Web3 Gaming
Some web3 gaming executives see the ESRB as a major obstacle for the growth of web3 gaming. Jacobc.eth, founder and CEO of the game launcher HyperPlay, believes that the ESRB’s classification of web3 games as “Adults Only” de-platforms an entire subsection of games and fails to engage with creators to understand the new technology. However, the ESRB clarified that its rating assignment depends on how blockchain features are implemented in the game and whether they involve real-world rewards.
Updating the ESRB’s Policy
Telos’ Justin Edwards speculates that the ESRB’s issues with blockchain gaming may stem from its perception of NFTs as gambling, similar to past concerns with loot boxes and microtransactions. Edwards suggests that the web3 gaming sector has matured, focusing on good game design and gameplay rather than quick profits. Developers like Mark Long, CEO of the blockchain game “Shrapnel,” believe that it is their responsibility to work with the ESRB to change the “Adults Only” rating for web3 games and educate the board about the similarities between web3 and other established platforms.
Epic Games’ decision to allow blockchain games with an “Adults Only” rating on its online store marks a significant policy change that could contribute to the mainstream acceptance and adoption of web3 gaming. While the ESRB’s classification of web3 games as “Adults Only” presents challenges, industry experts believe that collaboration and education can help update the rating system to better reflect the evolving landscape of gaming. As the web3 gaming sector continues to mature and produce innovative titles, the conversation between developers, ratings boards, and distribution platforms will play a crucial role in shaping the future of the industry.