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Microsoft Caves In, Allows Mature Games in Windows Store

Microsoft said on Thursday night that it's reversing its original position on blocking submissions of games rated for a mature audience.

Previously section 6.2 of the Windows App guidelines stated that anything rated over PEGI 16, ESRB's "Mature" or any other corresponding rating would not be allowed in the Windows Store. It was understandable at the time – Microsoft just didn't want its new marketplace littered with adult-oriented apps.

While this really doesn't affect the American market – so few are rated above Mature – the rule prevented quite a few titles from appearing in the Windows Store overseas including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Walking Dead, Mass Effect 2 and 3, Fallout: New Vegas and more. Granted these titles can be purchased on third-party platforms and run on the desktop anyway, the silly limitation was offensive to customers and content owners alike.

"Your app must not contain content or functionality that encourages, facilitates, or glamorizes illegal activity," stated section 5.3. "Your app must not contain excessive or gratuitous profanity," added section 5.8.

Nevertheless, Microsoft has changed its tune and will now begin accepting games with a rating of PEGI 18.

"In welcoming PEGI 18 games into the Store, we again reinforce two principles—flexibility and confidence—fundamental to the Windows Store," states Ted Dworkin, Director of Program Management for Windows Store. "We recognize that people have come to expect and appreciate rich gaming experiences on Windows and this includes games rated PEGI 18. We also want to ensure that every customer using the Store can browse and acquire apps with confidence."

The first two titles listed to arrive on Windows Store is The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition from CD Projekt, and Grand Theft Auto IV from Take Two. Additional titles will arrive soon, Dworkin said.

As previously stated, these games can be purchased through third-party platforms and run on the desktop. If Windows 8 customers aren't using the Modern UI despite having upgraded from a previous version of Windows, then chances are it doesn't matter what Microsoft is selling in the Windows Store. Even more, titles like Grand Theft Auto IV and The Witcher 2 aren't even sold by Microsoft – they're merely listed in the Store and linked back to the publisher's digital version which in turn runs on the desktop.

That said, the big stink back in early October – at least for desktop and notebook users -- was that (1) it was unclear as to what kind of roles the Modern UI and desktop would play in Windows 8, and (2) that Microsoft would block the listing of games that can be purchased directly from publishers, or from competitors like Steam.

"As the Store grows and the opportunity for developers increases we will continue to listen to feedback and review our process to ensure that developers have the tools and guidance necessary to create great games for customers around the world," Dworkin concluded.

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