The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the regulatory body that assigns ratings to video games, has announced that Batman Arkham Knight will have a rating classification of M for Mature. The M rating means that only gamers 17 and up will be able to purchase the game on their own. A parent or guardian will have to buy the game for someone younger than 17. This news is significant because none of the previous games in the Batman: Arkham franchise have ever received a rating of M. All the other games, including Batman: Arkham Origins, received a rating of T for Teen. This constitutes a big change for the franchise. However, the good news is that Rocksteady Studios is making the final game it wants– without censoring and sanitation. That is a good thing.
Speaking to IGN, game director Sefton Hill said he and the development team at Rocksteady were surprised when the game received the M rating. No disrespect or offense intended, but that sounds like a fabrication. In the same article, Hill recounts a story in which Warner Bros. Interactive gave the game a ratings analysis early in its development process. Scenes were pointed out as cause for concern. Hill was worried because Rocksteady thought those were key scenes and did not want to remove them. However, Hill spoke with the brass at Warner Bros., and nothing was removed. So, for Hill to say the team was surprised about the rating… sounds like a bit of hot air.
Regardless, Hill’s remarks indicate that Rocksteady was steadfast about the game. Rocksteady has built up an amazing reputation of integrity after Batman Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City. Hill and the Rocksteady staff did not want to compromise the integrity of the story by removing or changing any key scenes. It seems that Warner Bros.trusts the team and is allowing Rocksteady to go ahead with the game. The game was delayed until 2015. Rocksteady knew that a 2014 release for the game would have created a rush. S instead, the release was changed to June 2015.
Quite frankl, it was sheer luck that the previous games never got an M rating. All the other Arkham games were incredibly dark and violent. They contained very grim and suggestive themes and ideas, as well as copious violence. The games succeeded in avoiding the M rating because they contained very little blood and no heavy swearing (No F-bombs or S-bombs). The sexuality was mainly in the form of the dress code for the likes of Catwoman and Poison Ivy. However, the games are so dark and allude to such terrible things–such as cannibalism, rape, serial killings and torture, that it is a miracle the games got away with so much for so long. After reading Hill’s thoughts on the ratings, there does not appear to be extra gore and sexuality. Since Arkham Knight is a final game and ending of sorts, I imagine there will be certain death and destruction. Death could even befall the Dark Knight.
Batman Arkham Knight hits the shelves on June 2. The game will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox one and Windows PC.