In a surprising turn of events, the Epic Games Store has reversed its stance on blockchain-based games with “Adults Only” (AO) ratings. The digital distribution platform, known for its strict ban on AO-rated games, has recently amended its content policy to make an exception for games that receive an AO rating solely due to their use of blockchain or NFT (Non-Fungible Token) technology. This decision marks a significant shift in the platform’s approach to blockchain games and has implications for developers and enthusiasts alike.
1. The Policy Shift: Opening Doors for Blockchain Games
The makers of well-known games like Fortnite and Unreal Tournament have traditionally prohibited games with the ESRB’s most stringent rating, “Adults Only.” This rating is usually assigned to games with explicit content, such as excessive violence or nudity. However, the recent policy update now allows blockchain games to be exempt from this restriction, provided the AO rating is solely attributed to their use of blockchain or NFT technology.
1.1 The Spokesperson’s Statement
Epic Games spokesperson Brian Sharon clarified the rationale behind the policy change, stating, “Some blockchain-based games are receiving Adults Only (AO) ratings from industry ratings bodies for their particular implementation of blockchain.”
1.2 Specifics of the Policy Change
The revised content guidelines explicitly state, “The Epic Games Store makes an exception for products in cases where an AO rating was applied solely due to the usage of blockchain or NFT technology.” However, games must still adhere to Epic’s guidelines for blockchain technology.
2. Games Return: Gods Unchained and Striker Manager 3 Lead the Way
Following this policy update, games that were previously removed from the Epic Games Store due to their AO ratings are making a comeback. Notable titles like Gods Unchained and Striker Manager 3, flagged for their 18 and over rating, have been reinstated in the store.
2.1 Industry Concerns Addressed
The reversal addresses concerns within the industry regarding the removal of blockchain games, particularly Immutable‘s flagship TCG Gods Unchained, and Striker Manager 3 from Uplay Online. The initial removal was a result of the US ESRB giving them an AO rating, solely due to the presence of blockchain technology.
2.2 Impact on Over 80 Blockchain Games
With over 80 blockchain games on the Epic Games Store, developers feared that as these games left early access and required ESRB ratings, they would all face removal from the store due to the AO rating associated with blockchain technology. The policy change alleviates these concerns.
3. Industry Response: Praise for a Proactive Approach
The decision has been met with praise from both industry enthusiasts and developers. In response to the policy change, Gods Unchained expressed, “Glad to be back!” Immutable, the developer behind Gods Unchained, commented, “At Immutable, we have taken a proactive approach to advocate for fair policies for web3 games. We are pleased with Epic Games’ policy decision.”
3.1 Competitive Positioning Against Steam
This move reinforces Epic’s competitive positioning in contrast to Steam, which maintains a total ban on blockchain games. The Epic Games Store is positioning itself as a friendly distribution platform for blockchain games, differentiating itself from competitors.
4. Understanding the AO Rating and Its Challenges
The AO rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board is recognized as the strictest, leading some stores to abstain from selling these games entirely. Unlike platforms like Steam and Itch.io, which allow AO games with user-filtering options, Steam does not support blockchain games.
4.1 Steam’s Stance on Blockchain Games
Steam’s viewpoint is that items in blockchain games have real-world value, and they don’t allow items with such value on their platform. This divergence in approach highlights the varying perspectives within the gaming industry regarding the integration of blockchain technology.
5. Embracing the Future of Blockchain Gaming
Epic Games Store’s decision to welcome back blockchain games reflects an acknowledgment of the evolving landscape of gaming technology. The exemption for AO-rated games solely due to blockchain integration signals a step closer to the adoption of web3 gaming experiences. Developers and enthusiasts can now look forward to a more inclusive environment on the Epic Games Store, reinforcing its commitment to the diverse and dynamic world of gaming.
For developers and gamers interested in exploring blockchain games on the Epic Games Store, the recent policy change opens up new opportunities. Stay tuned for further updates and releases, as the platform embraces the future of gaming technology.