ESRB bans some (but not all) adult content in Conan Exiles [updated]

Conan Exiles is an online survival game either played from the first-person or third-person perspective. While the title features numerous characters and mysteries to uncover, it still revolves around gathering resources, learning new schematics, and crafting better gear or shelter. Starting off with nothing more than a stone house, you'll eventually be able to build entire cities from "Black Ice" with dangerous siege weaponry.

When the game initially appeared on Xbox Game Preview, there was some controversy surrounding censorship. PEGI, USK and ESRB are all game rating bodies which assign various classifications to every title. Many months ago, we reported that the American ESRB might give Conan Exiles an "AO for Adults Only" rating which could prevent it from coming to consoles. To avoid this, Funcom had to censor some adult content like exposed penises and testicles in certain countries.

Today, a Funcom spokesperson clarified the situation. On consoles, full nudity is only available in PEGI (Albania, Bulgaria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and more) and USK (Germany) territories. You can activate it by downloading the "Nudity" add-on which come with the game purchase. Unfortunately, only partial nudity is available in ESRB (Bahamas, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, United States, and more) countries. If the ESRB gave Conan Exiles a rating higher than "M for Mature", it would've prevented the release of the game on numerous platforms in the lucrative American market.

While a lot of gamers living in ESRB countries will be disappointed, developers have to comply with rating agencies. Maybe one day the ESRB will view nudity as less severe than over-the-top violence. Until then, we can all look upon Europe with envy.

Updated May 9, 2018: "AO for Adults Only" is the highest and most restrictive of the American ESRB's ratings. Unfortunately, it dramatically impacts the commercial availability of games because Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony don't let AO games be published for their consoles due to their target audience. Apart from that, a lot of high-profile retailers like GameStop refuse to stock AO games. Lastly, even livestreaming platforms like Twitch ban AO games now. Unless there's a strong following on PC, an AO title won't garner as much exposure because it's limiting its retail viability. This is the reason developers choose to comply with ESRB ratings because the alternative dramatically hurts sales.

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Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.