“The ESRB advised us that it has given The Elder Scrolls Online a Mature rating. While we may disagree with the ESRB’s determination, we do not plan to challenge the rating, and we are unwilling to change the game’s content to achieve a different rating. The game we have created is the one we want our fans to be able to play.
As a result of the ESRB rating, we are in the process of promptly updating everything with the required rating and age gates, including game trailers, web sites, and ads. Thanks for your understanding. We can’t wait to welcome players into The Elder Scrolls Online soon.” -ESO’s Facebook
As the above statement suggests, ESO now has a Mature rating in the United States and Canada. We don’t know what PEGI’s final decision will be but it leads to some interesting thoughts regardless.
We had wanted a Mature rating from the start quite honestly. It’s not that we wanted more gore, violence and strong language. Instead we simply didn’t want the developers over at ZOS to be limited by a Teen rating. When you have to do that, you start realizing that some great mechanics, features or graphics you had in mind cannot be fully implemented. This means the darker side of TES could not truly be represented and trust us, TES does have a darker side. Just think of all the times you’ve had to sacrifice people in not-to-subtle ways to gain favor with Daedric Princes.
Plus what do ratings really do for an MMO who always has to state “Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB?” This means that though the content may be Teen rated, entering general chat could expose yourself to pornographic conversations with adolescent males with too much time on their hands.
So what does this new-founded rating mean for ESO? For starters, ZOS will have a fun time correcting all of it’s past ratings in videos, trailers and posts. This also means that children below 18 will not be able to purchase this game in stores. This may potentially hurt sales numbers a bit until the kids are able to plead with their parents enough to purchase it for them. That said, I still feel that ZOS will find this to be a blessing and will take advantage of the situation.
What situation you say? ZOS was probably cutting back on certain environmental effects and more adult situations and choices within the game to keep that Teen rating. Things like drug use, more blood and gore, loss of limbs and decapitation could not be introduced in this game previously. But now that ESO has this Mature rating, they can open the flood gates to changes, making the game closer to how they wished it to be. The Skooma drug den found in Dawnguard could now potentially be used in ESO to show stresses of the war. The decapitation perk in Skyrim can now be represented if you kill-strike a foe in a particular way. Even limbs could be lost when struck with a power attack from the side. Though you may find this unnecessary, you may find that this makes the combat more realistic and visceral.
The main point I’m trying to get across is that Zenimax can now break the shackles of the Teen rating and create more content without the worries of some committee’s restrictions. It may be too late to see any changes before launch or even any changes at all to the current content. But this means that future DLC-level patches can introduce more mature content that otherwise wouldn’t have been allowed. Just think how much better the Dark Brotherhood will be now that they can include severed heads and fingers like those found in Oblivion’s DB. The Dark Brotherhood alone makes this Mature rating the best ESO news of all, so hopefully ZOS will seize the moment.