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Windows 8 store rules relaxed, Microsoft now allows PEGI 18 games

Microsoft's Windows 8 store has finally relaxed a ban on games rated 18 under the Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) programme, allowing them to be listed in the Store for download.

Differences between the rating system in the US and the UK, where the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) programmes are used respectively, led to an odd situation at the launch of Windows 8: while the Windows Store listed games rated as M for Mature under ESRB, games rated as 18 under PEGI - a roughly equivalent rating - were not.

The result: US customers could buy games that European customers, including those in the UK, could not. In all cases, the games were already available through other digital distribution platforms including Valve's popular Steam service, leaving gamers in Europe wondering just what was going on.

Shortly after the launch of the Windows Store, Microsoft issued a statement saying that it would relax the rules and allow both PEGI 18 and ESRB M games to be listed on the store - finally giving European gamers access to the same software as their US counterparts. The move, the company explained, would take time, and would not be ready until some time towards the end of the year.

With 2013 rapidly approaching, Microsoft has delivered: the first PEGI 18 titles are now listed for purchase on the Windows Store. Two major games have taken advantage of the relaxed rules so far, Grand Theft Auto IV and The Witcher 2. Both games can be purchased, downloaded and played on Windows 8 systems across Europe without restriction.

"In welcoming PEGI 18 games into the Store, we again reinforce two principles — flexibility and confidence — fundamental to the Windows Store. We recognise that people have come to expect and appreciate rich gaming experiences on Windows and this includes games rated PEGI 18," explained Ted Dworkin, Microsoft's director of programme management for the Windows Store. "We also want to ensure that every customer using the Store can browse and acquire apps with confidence. Through its integration with Microsoft Family Safety, the Windows Store allows parents to be in control of the kinds of apps their children can install. For this reason, even with the introduction of content intended for a more mature audience, the Store continues to be a safe and positive place for children to explore."

Both titles are available to purchase now, with additional PEGI 18 content expected to follow.

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