A Microsoft representative confirmed with Kotaku on Thursday that Windows 8's marketplace -- which will be a native app in the new operating system later this month -- will not offer games with a rating over PEGI 16, ESRB Mature ("M") or a corresponding rating under other ratings systems. This rule, which resides in section 6.2 of the Windows App guidelines, applies to all software sold within Microsoft new virtual storefront.
Here in the States, very few games that sport an A rating will be banned from the Windows 8 store. But Kotaku points out that European gamers will need to look elsewhere to purchase a number of popular titles that have been awarded the PEGI 18 rating. These include The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Mass Effect 2 and 3, Fallout: New Vegas and many more.
Kotaku's inquiry to Microsoft was sparked by an article written by Casey Muratori called The Next Twenty Years. He explains why the closed distribution model of Windows 8 will need to be changed "for the sake of developers, consumers and Microsoft itself."
"For the first time in the history of the PC, Microsoft is rolling out a new Windows ecosystem for which they will be the sole software distributor," he writes. "If you buy Windows 8, the only place you will be able to download software that integrates with its new user interface will be the official Windows Store. Microsoft will have complete control over what software will be allowed there."
The article assumes that even more games – and possibly other media for that matter – will be banned from the Windows 8 store based on content alone, not just their rating. Here are a few reasons, taken stright from Microsoft's own guidelines:
"Your app must not contain content or functionality that encourages, facilitates, or glamorizes illegal activity," reads section 5.3.
"Your app must not contain content that encourages, facilitates or glamorizes excessive or irresponsible use of alcohol or tobacco products, drugs or weapons," reads section 5.6.
"Your app must not contain excessive or gratuitous profanity," states section 5.8.
Instead of becoming just another player in the touch device space, he suggests that Microsoft should become one of the primary forces fighting to make tablet development as open as desktop development was under traditional Windows.
"They could take market share from the completely closed (and thoroughly dominant) iPad, and help restore to that space the freedom to innovate that developers lost when Apple imposed its restrictive policies," he suggested.
So far it looks like that's not going to happen.