Capcom is considering launching a legal battle over decisions taken by local government officers in Japan to ban the sale of Grand Theft Auto 3 to under-18s.
The game features a sticker on the box stating that it contains “violent and grotesque scenes”, along with information that it has been rated by the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization as being suitable for “Ages over 18”.
However, unlike in the UK, the rating does not have legal implications - it’s merely there as a guideline.
But last week, officials in Kanagawa, a district just south of Tokyo, agreed to make it illegal for retailers to sell GTA3 to minors. Other districts are expected to follow suit.
Capcom, which holds the publishing rights to Rockstar’s blockbuster series in Japan, issued a statement slamming the officials for reaching their decision without seeking consultation.
"Japan's videogame industry is a world-class business, which foundations are supported by the freedom of expression and intellectual property protection laws,” the company said in a statement.
“Like our country itself has been practicing, it is essential that we continue to make efforts to sustain these two factors that are essential for growth of the game industry.”
The statement went on to argue that Capcom is a responsible publisher, fully capable of self-regulation: “Our company does not believe that videogames should be completely free of any regulations under the freedom of expressions, and we have censored our games when seen to be required within our judgment.
"It is especially important to handle freedom of expression with care. It is a powerful factor in society, but also something extremely delicate.”
Capcom ended the statement by promising to “further examine how to cope with this issue, including the possibility to take certain legal action.”