When most think about COVID-19’s effect on the video game industry, they most likely also think of GameStop, Naughty Dog, and E3. However, there are a lot of backend pieces to the gaming industry that have not been spared coronavirus complications, like the Japanese game rating board Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO), which has closed for one month amidst coronavirus complications.
CERO, for those of you who are not familiar with their role in the gaming industry, is a game rating company in Japan. They operate by recruiting an average layperson and training them—on-site, not remotely. This training can last for over a week and then they have to actually rate the game.
This poses a problem for CERO as concerns regarding the coronavirus rise in Japan. It has gotten so bad that the Japanese government has declared a state of emergency and requested that citizens stay home as much as possible. This makes it hard for a company that relies on recruits from the public and it eliminates the option for employees to visit recruits for training.
The real problem here lies in the fact that regardless of a game’s technical readiness they must be evaluated and rated before being released to the public. This means more delays for gamers and quite possibly a lack of game announcements in general. Especially since CERO will not be receiving games for consideration during this time. CERO also didn’t indicate if they had any games pending review and if so what their strategy for dealing with their evaluations would be.
Unfortunately, challenges from the coronavirus do not appear to be going away any time soon. In the meantime, the best we can do is work safely and play safely and eagerly await for things to return to normal.