We’ve recently learned that Batman: Arkham Knight is going to be released on June 2nd, with an “M for Mature” rating from the ESRB. Even though this is the first game in the Arkham franchise to receive the M rating, there were moments in City & Origins that definitely skirted the fine line between the Teen and Mature ratings.
This morning my family and I were heading to the grocery store, when I received a text that said “Arkham Knight rated M… wha?”. I can only imagine that this is going to be a fairly common response from the community, however this is a reveal that I’ve been expecting for some time now.
First we need to consider that this is going to be Rocksteady’s final entry in the Arkham franchise, they’re focused on telling the story that they need to tell. They’re telling the story of Batman at his peak, he’s established himself as the Dark Knight and has been striking fear in the hearts of the criminal underworld. Until the arrival of the Arkham Knight, he’s unified the villains of Gotham under the common goal of destroying Batman. This is shaping up to be the darkest of the Arkham franchise, I don’t believe that Rocksteady would be able to tell the same story had they opted to pull their punches and water it down. This was apparently clear to Sefton Hill, founder of Rocksteady and the game director on Arkham Knight.
During an interview, he said “Warner Bros did a ratings analysis on Arkham Knight and pointed out key scenes that will cause “issues.” Hill said “I was really freaked out because the solution was to lose the scenes. But they were key scenes! We couldn’t lose them! I got the email. I’m freaked out. I thought this was going to destroy the game, everything I’m passionate about… I was building myself up for this big argument. I didn’t get much sleep… I got on the phone the next day with Ames Kirshen, the VP of Production at DC Comics”. Hill said The first thing he asked me was what I wanted to do.” Hill told him how he wanted to proceed, and that’s all there was to it.
Even though the M rating means they’ll be limiting their potential audience, we need to consider the fact that their core audience has matured over the last 4 years since since they released Arkham City. Whether it was a conscious decision or not, it only makes sense that the story they’ve been developing was geared toward that audience. Not only have the fans matured in that time, but so has the development team.
Hill said “I’m not blind to the fact that [the M rating] does mean some fans will miss out… I don’t want to be oblivious to that fact. It would have been wrong to water down the game and deliver a story we didn’t believe in to keep the game “mass market” or enable it for more people. We feel that’s the wrong way to go about it. We said we love the story and we don’t want to jeopardize that.”
Rocksteady has shown us, the fans, that they’re not only committed to delivering their final installment of the Arkham franchise, but they’re committed to delivering the best installment of the series. They received a lot of negative press behind the decision to push back the release date from October of 2014 to June 2015. However if there’s one thing we know for certain, they made the best possible decision for the game. As we were approaching the October deadline, the team released a number of promotional stills & clips of Arkham Knight. And don’t get me wrong everything that was being shown looked great, but it didn’t necessarily look as if it were next gen quality. However everything we’ve been shown over the course of the last couple of months have looked beautiful.
The team is dedicated to making this the crowning achievement in their Arkham trilogy, come June 2nd we’ll all have an opportunity to see it first hand. Let us know what you think in the comments…