Want to buy an M-rated game? It seems we're quite lucky in the West; all we have to do is walk into a store and buy it, or click the big "Download" button on your digital storefront of choice.
Siliconera reports that Japanese gamers haven't had it quite so easy for a while, at least when it comes to games that attain a "CERO Z" rating -- the highest level of classification it's possible for a Japanese game to attain. CERO Z-rated games are rated as only suitable for those aged 18 or over, and may only be sold to those who are of age, unlike those further down the spectrum -- in many cases, they're kept off the main store shelves and sold over the counter.
In many ways, a CERO Z rating is the rough equivalent of the ESRB's barely-used Adults Only rating, which is usually regarded by publishers as the commercial kiss of death due to many retailers' refusal to stock games with this rating. However, the actual games that attain a CERO Z rating more closely correspond to our own M-rated titles -- games like The Last of Us, Killer is Dead, Sleeping Dogs and even Retro City Rampage; fairly big-name games in many cases, a significant number of which are developed in the West.
In an attempt to increase the distribution of these games and make them more accessible to those who are eligible for them, Sony has elected to open a special 18+ game section on the Japanese PlayStation Store. Purchasing content from this section of the Store will require a master PSN account and credit card to prove your age, meaning that it won't be possible to purchase "adult" content using PSN Store credit -- unfortunate for overseas users who have a Japanese PSN account and were hoping to start downloading some CERO Z-rated Japan-exclusive games to their PS3.
The new section of the PSN Store will launch on October 31 with The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, Killer is Dead, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman Absolution, with the first two enjoying a discounted price as a launch promotion until November 13. Further CERO Z games including Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Saints Row IV and Onechanbara Z are also set to find a digital home in the new section.