In September, Zen Studios revealed it had acquired the Williams and Bally pinball collection for Pinball FX3. At the time of the announcement, the Managing Director revealed the development team had grown up admiring these pinball machines and were devoted to treating each of the beloved tables with a great level of respect.
Since the arrival of these classic tables in the game last week, pinball enthusiasts have noticed modifications have been made to each one. According to Ars Technica, scantily clad women have been covered up, violent imagery has been removed, explicit language has been censored, beer cans have been changed to soda cans and cigars have been completely removed from the mouths of characters. It's all to do with ensuring the game can appeal to all ages and stay within the existing E10+ rating.
Speaking to Ars Technica, Zen Studios' Vice President of Publishing Mel Kirk clarified why the changes were made:
We pride ourselves on Pinball FX being a very family-friendly game...People expect a specific type of game associated with certain types of content. I'm not going to jeopardize all those relationships, all that history, all those families that play the game for some bits of artwork.
Kirk said the ESRB did not ask for any changes to be made to the original artwork and stated how The Pinball Arcade versions of the exact same tables had essentially violated the ratings board:
I believe that The Pinball Arcade was in violation of ESRB and other ratings boards. We did a thorough review on this.
He went onto explain how the ability to turn off the "Family Mode" feature in the settings of The Pinball Arcade had obviously been missed by the ESRB and revealed Zen had been penalized last year when inappropriate placeholder artwork was featured in the VR version of Infinite Minigolf.
There's no way they could get away with what they did under that rating. I do believe that somehow they flew under the radar and it was not caught.
We've been penalized ourselves by the ESRB previously...We made some mistakes. We can't afford to be caught again.
Zen was aware when it acquired the Williams and Bally collection that certain tables would have to be changed and that it was likely to happen again in the future - making reference to the Champion Pub table and how a simulated gambling game within it might have to be completely removed.
Kirk summed up by saying while he didn't want to minimise the importance of the vocal minority requesting an authentic pinball experience, he believed the censorship featured within these classic tables was for the best:
For all the hardcore players that don't like what we've done, we have just as many people saying thank you for doing this, because now my kids can play too, and they now know these games...If the artwork and some of the things that are more mature are super important to people, we'll hear them and we'll try to make those available, maybe under a different label or a different game. But FX3 is a family-friendly game.
I have daughters myself that are 8 and 10 and I'm so excited that I can let them play Medieval Madness and not worry about some of the things that are in there that they're not ready for.
Have you tried out the new Williams and Bally tables in Pinball FX3 yet? Do you regularly play this game on your Switch? Do you agree or disagree with these changes? Tell us below.