Bungie’s latest shooter, Destiny has been given a “T for Teen” rating by the ESRB. The rating was confirmed by Polygon, who explained that the game featured “animated blood” and “violence”, but did not have any harsh language, gambling or tobacco use. This rating is in contrast to Bungie’s previous work on the Halo franchise, which always resulted in an “M for Mature” rating.
The question raised by this rating is, has Bungie toned down the violence in Destiny or has the ESRB changed their rating standard. Of course, no official comment from the ESRB has indicated changing standards, but they do seem to have occurred over time. After having played Destiny’s alpha a few times I cannot say that the violence was anything less than what I experienced in any of the Halo games.
We’ve always set out to make games that lots of players can enjoy, and to build experiences that matter to people
Looking back on my experience with Halo, it does feel a little odd that they were even rated that highly in the first place. I have seen children as young as 6 play a Halo game without feeling like there was anything offensive about it. However, put that same child in front of GTA V or Madworld and I would feel like I was witnessing borderline child abuse. Perhaps the rating had drifted away from its original intent and was becoming too broad.
Bungie commented on the rating by saying “[w]e’ve always set out to make games that lots of players can enjoy, and to build experiences that matter to people. For Destiny, we didn’t aggressively pursue one rating over another, though. We constructed foundational pillars that have guided development from start to finish. We wanted our worlds to be a place people felt good about spending time in. We wanted our worlds to be worthy of heroes. For us that meant Destiny would never be reprehensible, but rather bright, hopeful, and adventurous. That’s a world that resonates with us, and we hope it resonates with gamers, too.”
Unfortunately we might never know what difference the ESRB saw in the two franchises to warrant this shift. Perhaps it is the lack of a zombie type enemy, such as Halo’s Flood. Or maybe it is that Destiny has a more upbeat, less apocalyptic tone than Halo. Either way, the ESRB probably just made a lot of teenagers very happy.
Destiny will be released on September 9th 2014 for Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.