Windows 8 is not earning Microsoft many fans in the video game development community. Marcus “Notch” Pearson, the creator of Minecraft, said that Microsoft is “ruining the PC as an open platform” with its new operating system that apes the contained, curated style of Apple’s iOS and OS X operating systems. His sentiments echoed those of Valve’s Gabe Newell and Blizzard’s Rob Pardo.
It would seem that Microsoft’s policies for selling games through the Windows 8 Marketplace are going to further incense those developers. Microsoft’s closed policy will see video games intended for adults only, meaning those games that could potentially receive an Adults Only rating from the ESRB in the US, will not be allowed on the platform.
GamesIndustry International reported on Thursday that Microsoft will indeed ban games rated for ages 18 and older, at least in the UK. Citing an article written by Casey Muratori which outlines Microsoft’s guidelines for apps sold on the Marketplace—apps cannot contain depictions that “glamorizes illegal activity,” “irresponsible use of alcohol or tobacco products,” or “excessive or gratuitous profanity”—this means that many games rated PEGI 18 cannot be sold through Microsoft’s store at all. Grand Theft Auto IV, the original version of Heavy Rain, and many other PEGI 18+ rated games would be blocked from the market.
Kotaku confirmed these rules were official and that no game can be sold through the Marketplace without meeting them. “No, you cannot distribute Windows Store apps without going through the Windows Store. The exception to this is for enterprise apps. Developers can, however, create and offer desktop apps the same way they always have—through their own site or distribution point.”
The question though is how these policies will affect the Windows 8 Marketplace globally. The UK’s PEGI rating system is different from the ESRB’s, designating some games that receive an M for Mature rating in the US PEGI 16+ and others PEGI 18+.
A representative of Microsoft’s PR agency handling the promotion of Windows 8 told Digital Trends, “We have nothing more to share beyond what is public on the Windows Dev Center (section 6.2 of the app certification requirements discusses ratings) and information on Rating boards for Windows apps.” Section 6.2 only restricts games with an “over ESRB Mature” rating, the same guideline that tickets what is and is not allowed on the Xbox Live marketplace.