The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) is responsible for assigning game ratings and age restrictions in Japan. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization will be shut down for the remainder of April. Doctor Serkan Toto, CEO of Tokyo-based game industry consultancy company Kantan Games, took to Twitter to help explain the situation.
On the official CERO page, they say:
“Since reviewers visit our office to conduct review, it is not possible for our staff and reviewer to work from home.” https://t.co/KNMDeHXKBm
— Dr. Serkan Toto / Kantan Games Inc. (@serkantoto) April 7, 2020
It may seem practical for their employees to work from home, but CERO insists the option isn’t possible in a statement released to a Japanese website. It’s likely that the company did not have enough time to react and adapt to the the rapidly changing situation in Tokyo. To shift operations online and set up a remote review system would take some planning that they simply weren’t able to do. The impact of CERO’s closure will most likely be felt through game delays. It wouldn’t be the first time that COVID-19 forced a game release to be pushed back.
The pandemic has already led to the postponement of upcoming titles like The Last of Us Part II, and the closure of CERO threatens to cause more delays for games in Japan. A CERO rating is required before a game can be released in the country. The organization’s closure can very well have an effect on future releases like Minecraft Dungeons, and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, set to come out May 26th and May 29th respectively. CERO is set to be closed until at least May 7th, s0 the dates are cutting substantially close. Tokyo recently called a state of emergency, so it’s noted that this time frame could extend.