Those who were fortunate enough to help fund the JRPG/Harvest Moon hybrid Earthlock: Festival of Magic back in 2014 were recently graced with beta keys for what promises to be a pretty fun game. The team behind the project, the Norwegian-based Snowcastle Games, seems to also be updating it based on community responses, which is always great, but that wasn’t the most interesting part of the campaign update, at least to me.
Along with the beta announcement, they talked about a certain aspect of gaming that, while integral and almost mandatory, seems to go under the radar: the ratings system. We hear about it every once in awhile, like when the USK decides that the German people aren’t adult enough to do adult things, but you rarely ever hear about how the process actually works. For those interested, Snowcastle put together a nice little chart to illustrate the procedure:
The main thing of note here is the apparent cost of it all. It’s never really discussed, but many ratings groups have an exorbitant fee for essentially playing a game and telling people that some people can’t play them, often charging in the thousands. That, of course, doesn’t apply to the good ol’ stars and stripes of the ESRB, who not only processed the game the quickest, but through the power of American ingenuity did it for free. It’s honestly shocking though how the PEGI system could charge developers $4,500 and get away with it, but I guess coordinating all those countries can take its toll financially. It’s also a little strange that Australia would take six weeks to process one game, but since these things are still sent on physical DVDs, it can probably be attributed to shipping.
Earthlock is aiming for a Q3 release, and from what they’ve shown it looks fantastic, so be sure to check it out.