From the Told Ya So Dept:
In the January issue of Game Informer there is an interview with EA's Glen Schofield, executive producer of Dead Space. Since the game shipped, Schofield has been upped to general manager of EA Redwood Shores.
The interview is worth reading for a couple of reasons. First, because Dead Space is a terrific game (although not selling especially well, unfortunately).
But what really caught our eye were Schofield's comments regarding supposed censorship of the game. GamePolitics readers may recall that we created a bit of a flap in September by calling B.S. on an EA community manager's claim that Dead Space had been banned in Germany, Japan and China (see: Dead Space Ban in Three Countries? We're Not Buying It).
That was then. This is now. Here's what Schofield told GI:
Game Informer: You had some problems with the game being banned in Germany, Japan and Korea.
Schofield: Germany finally came around, because the bottom line is that the take it into a whole context... At the end of the day, Germany said they would take the game untouched, which is fantastic. I was very surprised with Japan. In finding out exactly the reasons why, it kind of makes sense. There is a cultural difference dealing with the dead. They just had something that we could not overcome and we didn't want to compromise the game. Hell, [Takashi] Miike is the king of horror over there, and if you watch any of his films they are frickin' insane. So, for us to get banned, I was a bit surprised.
GP: So, as we speculated in September, there was never a Dead Space ban in Germany. As to the other countries, EA doesn't even sell boxed product in China due to piracy concerns. Note that the original EA claim involving China somehow morphed into a Korean ban, with no explanation. And, unfortunately, Schofield doesn't address Korea (or China) in his response to Game Informer's question.
Regarding Japan, as we reported in September, EA only sells PC titles there, not console games. There is a PC version of Dead Space, of course, so a Japanese ban is theoretically possible. But we question Schofield's sketchy explanation of "a cultural difference dealing with the dead." Lotsa dead people in the Resident Evil series, after all. Unfortunately, Game Informer did not push Schofield to elaborate.
What's most troubling in all of this is the suspicion that EA may have leaked the three-country ban rumor simply to create some pre-release buzz around Dead Space. As I have noted before, from his opening remarks at E3, Schofield hyped the game's level of violence. Sitting in the cheap seats, it seemed like the touting of the blood and gore was part of the Dead Space marketing plan. That's EA's choice, of course, and Dead Space surely wouldn't be the first game sold that way. But if the publisher - or its minions - then proceeded to put out an apocryphal story that the game had been banned, that's something entirely different. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in September, a pair of in-the-know types at EA failed to respond to my requests for clarification on the supposed Dead Space censorship.
Three months later we find out that there was no German ban, Schofield doesn't address China/Korea at all, and the explanation for the alleged Japanese ban doesn't make a great deal of sense. What's a newsie to think?
Hey, don't get me wrong. Dead Space is a good game. It's the media manipulation expansion pack that we could do without.
UPDATE: In comments to this story, GP reader fug4z1 writes that Dead Space is not banned in Japan, either:
Just want to say that from personal experience, there was no Dead Space ban whatsoever in Japan, either official or "indirect" due to refusal to rate the game or whatever; both console and PC versions could be found in shops [in Akihabara, Tokyo] on the release day. There were even displays where you could play the game, both in-store and also just outside the store on the street (so potentially children could get their hands on this murder simulator -- the horror the horror, won't someone think of them etc). My PC version is labeled as "Asia-Pacific Edition" and there is no rating label or icons anywhere on the box. Last week in one of the imported game shops [again in Akiba] I noticed a printed [in English] label that was added on the display copy on the shelf, warning about the violence and blood in the game etc -- the game is still on sale as before. (Yawn.) By the way, on the weekend of the release, the game was even sold out in one of the shops. Now you can find it all over.