With its Xbox Live integration and strong gaming presence, Windows 8 tablets have the potential to become the de facto tablet experience for the core gamer. At least they would, if Microsoft wasn’t shooting itself in the foot with a new decision. Windows 8 Marketplace will not carry RATED M (or PEGI 18 in Europe) products.
The official guidelines for the restriction say that apps can’t “contain content or functionality that encourages, facilitates or glamorizes illegal activity”. Furthermore it can’t have alcohol, tobacco, drugs or weapons if they are displayed in a manner that glamorizes them or encourages their excessive use. Games that have excessive profanity are also banned.
Few titles currently were slated for North American release that were carrying a Mature rating, but several PEGI 18 titles like Modern Warfare 3 were coming to the new UI and are now being banned.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you can’t play M or Pegi 18 games in Windows— you just won’t be able to use them inside of the new modern UI. In other words, if you get an x86 tablet, laptop or desktop you can still play them in desktop mode, just not under ARM.
Considering the vast majority of Xbox gamers thrive on these M-rated beauties, this seems like a poor move on Microsoft’s part. Not only is it a slap in the face to gamers that would have possibly considered an ARM-based tablet for gaming, but it brings up a big concern about the nature of Windows 8 modern.
Does Windows 8 represent a slow shift to a “closed” platform?
It seems that the future of operating systems might see powerful digital distribution platforms that run smoothly– but it is a locked down future. Blackberry has always been locked down, iOS is locked, Windows Phone 7 and 8 are somewhat locked down, and now the legacy continues for the new UI in Windows.
Controlling M-rated titles doesn’t flat-out make the new UI locked down. They have that right, but it certainly isn’t a welcome change for gamers. Combining this change with the fact you can’t side-load, can’t use 3rd party app stores in Metro and other factors is what hints at a more locked-down nature.
This is in stark contrast to the open nature of the desktop. As it sits, Windows 8 is a fairly open platform for x86 users. The concern is that it seems inevitable that Windows 9 or 10 will eventually shed the desktop, just like Windows eventually shed true DOS support. When that happens, will the era of a more open-natured Windows be gone for good?
Very likely. Is this a good or bad thing? Depending on how you look at it. Let’s face it, locked down ecosystems are more secure. I am a fan of Android, but it is plagued by security flaws that aren’t really an issue for iOS and WP users. It’s hard to say whether the additional security that comes with a more closed platform makes it worth giving up an open system. Honestly it will depend on preferences more than anything.
Any readers into gaming? How does this new change in their policy towards gaming effect you? Are you still as excited about Windows 8 tablets? As for me, I don’t like the change, but at the very least x86 tablets can still open a windows (pun intended) to M-rated gaming.
Update: As pointed out by one of our readers in the comments, I jumped the gun here. Microsoft is only bringing this ban to Europe from the sounds of it. M-rated titles should still be safe in the U.S., at least for now.