The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO), which is responsible for the age rating of games in Japan, has suspended all operations for the rest of the month. As reported by Japanese site Automaton, the organization will be closed until at least May 7, with Tokyo having declared a state of emergency amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CERO offices are located in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.
Games require a CERO rating to release in Japan, meaning that this very well might cause delays for game releases in the country. According to Dr Serkan Toto on Twitter, it is not possible for employees to review footage from home as reviewers always conduct their reviews in-office; it’s likely that a work-from-home solution could not be implemented before the state of emergency was declared.
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’s possible that this will have an impact on games targeting release in Japan in the coming months, including major titles like Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (May 29), Ghost of Tsushima (June 26), and Minecraft Dungeons (May 26). The specific impact of this closure might take a while to become apparent, but it’s very likely that we will see further delays, at least in Japan.
COVID-19 has led to the delay of games like The Last of Us Part II and Iron Man VR already, and it’s likely that we’ll see others. However, both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X are still targeting worldwide 2020 releases.