The Games Rating Authority has explained why Star Wars Battlefront has received a PEGI 16 rating, specifically citing the violence enacted by playable characters Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.
The rating came as a surprise given how the Star Wars films from which Battlefront draws its inspiration from have typically carried softer classifications - the original trilogy all carried a U rating from the BBFC in the UK, and it was only the darker tone of the prequels that saw Attack of the Clones get a PG while Revenge of the Sith received a 12.
EA and DICE were also keen for Star Wars Battlefront to be readily accessible to as broad an audience as possible, keeping its tone in line with the films. When asked by Eurogamer why Battlefront received a PEGI 16, DICE designer Jamie Keen was somewhat surprised by the rating.
"That's an interesting question," Keen said. "It should be really analogous to what you happens in the film in terms of the level of violence. I didn't know about the PEGI 16 thing. That's what we're gunning for, to have it like the films, and a lot of those death animations come from the film, it's something we're really close to."
A recent tweet by the Games Rating Authority has made it clear why Battlefront received its rating. "Violence consists mainly of players using guns and lightsabres against enemy forces, who fall down limply when struck, though there is never any blood or visible injury," reads the official PEGI text. "Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine can also choke or electrocute their enemies, causing them to realistically struggle, writhe and yell in pain."
Games rated as PEGI 16 will include "more mature and realistic violence against human characters", the ratings board's official site explains. "The game may deal heavily with death and injury to humans. Gory and bloody violence may be included at a PEGI 16 level but only if the game is arcade style."
That's as opposed to the softer PEGI 12 rating, which covers "more graphic and realistic looking violence towards fantasy characters. Any violence towards human characters must look unrealistic unless it consists of only minor or trivial injury such as a slap."
Star Wars Battlefront's rating puts it in line with a game like Destiny, another sci-fi fantasy shooter with no blood or gore, which also carries a PEGI 16 rating.
In North America, both games carry a T for Teen rating. This denotes games aimed at players 13 and up, as opposed to the M for Mature label which is for games that are 17+.
"Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up," the ESRB's rating states. "May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language."
"Violence" is described as: "Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment". It should not include "Intense Violence", suitable at the Mature level, which can show "graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death".
Eurogamer has asked EA for official comment on the matter.