Oft-delayed MMOG Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is going to see some minor changes in the U.S. and Germany in order to meet with game rating requirements.
Voodoo Extreme has reported on a post in the official Age of Conan forums which says the game will be censored in those countries to remove offending content. The German version of the game, which has been rated 18+ by the USK, will have decapitations, dismemberments and "over-the-top" fatalities removed, although full gore will otherwise remain. The U.S. version of the game, rated M (Mature) by the ESRB, will not include nipples.
"Please note this isn't a design decision or something we can reverse," the message reads. "It's a legal (or as good as legal) requirement to sell the game in that particular territory." The game has been rated 18+ by PEGI in the rest of Europe, and will be available uncensored in those countries. Not all is lost, however; American and German gamers who think they have the fortitude to tolerate the sight of cartoon violence (or nipples) without being overtaken by fits of murderous rage can bypass the restrictions by purchasing the game from a different territory.
In development since 2003, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures has been plagued by numerous delays since it entered beta testing in mid-2006. The game is currently scheduled for release on May 20 for the PC, with an Xbox 360 version expected later in the year.
Update: Community manager Shannon Drake has posted a follow-up to the original message saying that while the German version will be censored, the U.S. release of the game will actually hit the shelves with nipples intact. "The ESRB reviewed our application and gave us a rating of Mature 17+," he said. "The full rating with descriptors has not yet been publicly announced but will be posted on the ESRB web site on 13 February 2008."