Holy “M” rating batman! Rocksteady announced this week that their explosive finale to the lauded Arkham series is being released this June with an M rating by the ESRB. But is this a bad thing? Rocksteady’s previous installments in the franchise both earned the “T for teen” rating. In an interview with IGN, the studio founder Sefton Hill says that focusing on a rating was never the point of the studio. “From our point of view, we never wrote it or made it with a rating in mind. We never did that in the previous two games… We just felt that this is the story that we really wanted to tell.”
What does an M rating mean for the community? The obvious is that in theory the title will have a smaller hold on the mass market. With an “M” rating being limited to purchase by anyone 17+ or accompanied by a parent, it’s true sales may drop. Parents may see this as a hit to what they let their children experience, but is it really that bad? We all know Batman as being “The World’s Greatest Detective,” and we also know that while he is violent, his entire persona is based on justice, and not murder. What then is Arkham Knight bringing us that deserves an “M” rating? Hard hitting blows, vehicle combat, and possibly a dark story are our initial thoughts.
So then why didn’t they just take out some of the combat or turn down the violence in the story to satisfy a “T” rating? Sefton continues in his interview with IGN… “I’m not blind to the fact that [the M rating] does mean some fans will miss out… I don’t want to be oblivious to that fact. It would have been wrong to water down the game and deliver a story we didn’t believe in to keep the game ‘mass market’ or enable it for more people. We feel that’s the wrong way to go about it. We said we love the story and we don’t want to jeopardize that.”
If the Dark Knight taught us anything by dancing around a PG13 rating, it’s that sometimes you need to go dark with a series to really take it to that next level. With the Arkham series taking a dip into the “M” rated pool, it will be interesting to see where the future of “T” rated action games is headed, and how developers will take us into this new generation of storytelling. Take a peek, and watch the official trailer “Gotham is Mine” below.