Epic on shipping Gears of War 2 in Japan

Stronger violence almost caused Gears of War 2 not to be released in Japan, Epic president says.

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Who was there: Mike Capps president of Epic, speaking at a special session at the Tokyo Game Show.

What they talked about: The Gears of War franchise may be one of the biggest on the 360 in the US and other Western markets, but that's certainly not the case in Japan. While both games in the series have been released in the country (and reviewed favourably), Epic president Mike Capps said Gears of Wars 2 was close to not being available, thanks to concerns the developer had about some of the violent content in GOW2 making it past Japanese censors.

Capps said it was "difficult" for Epic to ship the first Gears, and it wasn't because of the language barrier. It was the game's violence which was the biggest hurdle, with Epic having to create a separate version of the game for Japan with objectionable content taken out (such as bloodspray). This meant the developer also had to create two versions of all DLC and updates, which was a heavy workload considering Japan accounted for only 1 percent of global sales for Gears of War.

So when it came to the sequel, Capps said Epic did not even initially plan for a Japanese release due to the game's more violent content, pointing out in particular the boss level which took place inside a giant wormlike creature. "We thought that we could never make a version for Japan that would fit our vision, that we would need too much work, and supporting two games would be too difficult," he said.

But thanks to the persistence of Microsoft in Japan--and calls from Japanese fans of the series--Epic relented and asked the local Microsoft to check out what content needed to be changed for Gears of War 2. As it turns out, recent changes to Japanese classification laws meant very little had to be changed, much to the suprise of Capps.

Quote: "We would have done this 10 months earlier if we knew you could cut up a boss monster's heart from the inside and would have no problem [with censors]."

Takeaway: With the room packed with Japanese journalists wanting to hear from the Epic president, it seems that the Gears of War franchise remains one of the leading Western ones within the nation.

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