[Update: Full comment from Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen after the jump]
For those who’ve never heard of the game, The Binding of Isaac is a smart, well designed, randomized little shoot ’em up RPG that’s already a big hit on Steam. The game’s aesthetic and design both pay homage to the original Legend of Zelda, which is just the start of why the game would have been a perfect fit for the 3DS eShop. Sadly, it looks like the game’s “blasphemous” themes are not something that Nintendo will allow on their handheld.
This is insane. Can you imagine if Sony didn’t allow the DVDs of the movie Sleepers to play on their TVs or DVD players because they didn’t want a movie about childhood sexual abuse to be “associated” with their hardware? That sort of thing would never fly in the world of cinema, but it looks like that kind of thought policing is still acceptable in “lesser” art forms like videogames.
It’s a disgusting and sad situation, and I can only hope that something is done soon to change the way both Nintendo, and the industry in general, views the role between the hardware developers and software artists. Videogames as a medium will never reach their full potential if they are continually treated with the kind of fear and disrespect they receive from the gaming industry itself, let alone from outside influences. To see that kind of totalitarian action coming down from one of the industry’s most powerful entities is very troubling. This does not bode well for 3rd parties’ relationship with Nintendo, or for the immediate future of creative freedom in the medium on the whole.
Nintendo is saying that Isaac cant ever exist in the 3DS shop ever. I have no idea how this would effect retail but theres no way anyone would publish it retail wise either way due to the games price. It took a while to get an answer because the religious themes in the game made it very hard for Nintendo to take a stance on it, so it had to keep going higher and higher in the ranks of Nintendo approval to get the OK.
I was told for a while it looked like we were getting the green light because we had an official rating in Germany (M) and as long as the game could get a rating that was not (AO) it would probably pass… but then they went silent for a month and I had a feeling after the news got around in Germany about the controversial “Blasphemous” rating that Isaac received (which resulted in its (M) rating), it would probably get back to Nintendo and sway their vote… but I have no confirmation that that was the reason.
All I know is they passed on it due to problems the religious aspects of the game might cause. I don’t have details on what aspect of “religion” they are most bothered by, but I did hear that they didn’t care about any blasphemy in games, but cared more about religion period and how something based on the bible might effect things… honestly it was a pretty muddy response, but I did hear that religious games are far more bothersome than blasphemous ones, and the game being based on a story in the bible and being “by the book” in a lot of ways could have actually been an issue.
All this stuff has opened my eyes so much more to the freedom devs have with Steam. Censorship like this doesn’t pop up that often in games, and there really are only a handful of “banned video games” or highly censored ones. It’s nice to have the freedom to publish something that speaks its mind about religion on a platform like Steam.