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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