The Windows Store is a topic of a lot of debate in gaming, but one issue that's been a particular sticking point is its lack of some incredibly popular games because of a ratings policy mixup. Now that's been fixed.
That's right: All the "Mature" games you want are going to be in the Windows Store.
Windows Store guidelines in their first conception left a bunch of adult games in limbo. The US uses ESRB ratings for its games, the highest ratings of which are Mature and Adult. Mature is a really common rating, while Adult is populated by, mostly, porn. So you can typically find Rated-M games in most US stores.
The problem for the Windows Store came because Europe uses the PEGI rating system. The more mature ratings for that system are PEGI 16 and PEGI 18. Microsoft blocked PEGI 18, as an analogue to its breakdown with Mature and Adult titles. PEGI 18, though, includes not just all of the Adult-rated ESRB games, but also a bunch of games that would rate as Mature stateside. Those include gigantic games like Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Assassin's Creed and the Mass Effect series. As a result, none of those would have been available in the Windows Store.
"It basically ends up disqualifying games that would be ESRB Mature," explained Windows Corporate VP of Web Services Antoine Leblond. So Microsoft's making the common sense choice to switch to a system that admits games that have content that warrants a Mature rating, even if it also carries a PEGI 18 rating.
The update brings the Windows Store in line with competitors like Steam, Origin, and even the Mac App store and Microsoft's own Windows Phone marketplace, all of which have taken a more liberal approach to its wares.
The change, though, will take some time to go into effect. The games that had been caught in this net still won't be available as the Windows Store launches with Windows 8 today. Leblond said the plan is to flip the switch around December — definitely before the new year. That's a longer delay that most would have hoped for, but at least there's light at the end of the restrictive tunnel.
"This is to give developers a heads up that that's where we're going," Leblond said, "So they can have the peace of mind around developing the kinds of games that will have those ratings."
And of course you'll still be able to install the games not in the Windows Store through Steam, or any other marketplace of your choosing. Leblond wants to hammer that point home. "We want the world of desktop apps to to keep existing [outside of the Windows Store]," he said. "There's no reason to get in the way of that. Valve can keep being Valve." And you can keep buying Skyrim from it.