Earlier this week it was announced that the next installment of Rocksteady’s Batman games received a Mature rating from the ESRB for Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, and Violence. This information was publicly made availble on the ESRB website. This is certainly a first for a Batman game. The previous Arkham games all recieved a T for Teen rating from the ESRB.
Sefton Hill, founder of Rocksteady, spoke to IGN about the upcoming game:
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. In terms of creating the story, with such strong characters, sometimes they lead you in interesting directions. They lead you because you know who they are and you build the world around that.
Certainly it doesn’t seem like Rocksteady specifically set out to bring gamers an ‘M’ rated Batman with the sole intention of pushing boundaries. Instead Rocksteady was focused on bringing the best game they could and if that means venturing into mature themes then so be it.
The idea of a Batman game recieving an ‘M’ rating is one that some fans might be a little shocked at. Batman is a superhero and superheros don’t kill (at least they’re not suppose to). However there is nothing from keeping bad guys from killing. Warner Bros and DC have kept games such as Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe from receiving an ‘M’ rating in the past. What would keep them from stepping in and toning down Arkham Knight? Perhaps it had to with the story that Rocksteady pitched Warner Bros. Rocksteady has had pretty good track record with the way they handled Batman in their games.
On the flip side is it really that far-fetched for Batman to be featured in an ‘M’ rated game? Perhaps not, Batman was created in 1939 and was inspired by the time period’s pulp fiction. Despite the fun and campy 1960’s Batman TV series, Batman has always managed to remain one of the darker DC heroes. Many Batman stories from the 1980’s such as the Killing Joke or The Dark Knight Returns have pushed the envelope in number ways.
In recent years comic book writer Scott Snyder has done a bang up job blurring the line between superheros and horror when it comes to writing Batman comics. When it comes to movies, even Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy pushed the envelop while remaining firmly within the PG-13 realm.
While most adult gamers could probably careless about a game’s rating, there are still some younger fans of Batman and the series that could miss out on the game because of it’s rating. This could mean fewer people are able to buy the game as most retailers have a policy about selling M rated games to minors. Surprisingly enough, the video game industry has decided not to go the route of the movie industry.
Over the past couple years Hollywood has had a trend of watering down movies in order to increase ticket sales. Movies such as Terminator: Salvation and Expendables 3 are part of franchises that are known for receiving a hard R rating but ended up with a PG-13 rating because the studios cut out content. If anything, video games took the opposite route with games such as Call of Duty, making the leap from T to M.
There isn’t necessarily a correlation with how good a game is based on its ESRB rating. If Rocksteady thinks that game is the best it could possibly be with its current rating then so be it. Personally I’d rather have a developer take risks than not put out a good game at all.
Until June we can only speculate what we will find in Arkham Knight. For many fans of the series, this will only drum up the excitement. Let’s just hope the game is better than Arkham Origins.
Batman: Arkham Knight will be available June 2,2015 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.