That a major publisher would first release a game as an online download is nearly unheard of. But that's the case with Singles: Flirt Up Your Life, which also earns the distinction as one of the few games to earn the "AO," for "Adults Only," ESRB rating. Since most major retail chains refuse to carry AO-rated games, Eidos has opted to circumvent them through Web-based distribution. Gamers will be able to download a trial version of the game this Sunday, May 23, on GameSpot DLX.
Singles made an appearance at E3 last week after Eidos' sudden acquisition and announcement of the game in April. An Eidos rep commented that the publisher had picked the game up after seeing it do surprisingly well in Europe. The quick one-month turnaround between the deal and the game's release is seemingly just another way Singles is flaunting industry conventions.
What earns Singles the rare AO rating is its frank depiction of the playable couples' intimate moments. Of course, the game requires some effort from the player before a relationship gets to this point. The gameplay has been likened to The Sims but is focused almost exclusively on the mechanics of building a relationship between roommates--and decorating their apartment in the meantime.
The 415MB trial version will allow players full access to the game for four hours. The trial includes the full game content, and the time limit can be unlocked with an online purchase. Like the game, the trial is available only to those age 18 and above.