Japanese video game rating organisation CERO (Computer Entertainment Rating Agency) has today announced a temporary closure, potentially having a significant impact on the release schedules of upcoming games.
The closure has been revealed in response to the Japanese government's decision to issue a state of emergency across several prefectures today, including CERO's home prefecture of Tokyo. Residents of affected prefectures are to remain indoors from 8th April until 6th May, forcing CERO to close its doors for a month. A press release covering the announcement reads as follows:
"All work including screening (including those under review) will be entirely suspended from April 8th to May 6th. We will be closed during that time, so we will not be able to receive examination materials such as mail or courier. The resumption of operations after May 7th will be announced on the website in the future."
Just like PEGI and ESRB in Europe and North America respectively, CERO is an organisation that decides upon the age rating for video games in Japan. For a game to release on home consoles in Japan, including Nintendo Switch, a game must receive a CERO rating. With the company out of action for a month, the release schedule for any upcoming games could be quite heavily impacted.
A report from Automaton Media speaks to two Japanese publishers, both of which state that release adjustments will need to be made. It would appear that CERO's closure has come as a surprise, although one silver lining can be found in the fact that digital releases are often reviewed several months in advance; potentially, then, games set to launch in April and May will go ahead as planned, with summer titles being pushed back.