Why didn’t Neo*Geo games have ESRB ratings back in the day?

butthurt coconut

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I can’t think of any other home system from that time where you don’t find ESRB ratings.

Even Sam Sho V Special AES has no ESRB rating in 2004!
 

famicommander

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The ESRB exists to keep big box retailers like Walmart, Target, or Best Buy from getting bitched out by parents for selling adult games to children. Neo Geo games were only ever distributed in the US through speciality outlets where that wasn't a concern. ESRB certification would've been a waste of time and money.
 

butthurt coconut

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I only ever owned MVS and it still pisses me off SNK released censored games on the home system. Ridiculous.
Gotta leave at least one reason for you to keep pumping quarters into the arcade machines i guess. Blood & tits?
 

BIG BEAR

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I only ever owned MVS and it still pisses me off SNK released censored games on the home system. Ridiculous.
I'll never forget how angry everybody was including myself when we found out Samsho 1 had white blood and no mutilations.
The games were too expensive(the USD was much stronger) to receive a gimped game.
Jeff Kurtz released a bios that helped a great deal back then
SNK heard the complaints loud and clear and at least provided with the unlock method in Samsho 2.
 
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BIG BEAR

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V Special was intentionally gimped by Playmore. There was a bladed child beheading all over the news, just before release.
It was intentionally gimped but thanks to the uni-bios,it allows you to play uncensored unless you sent your cart in to be "fixed".
BB
 

madmanjock

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SNK USA division were trying to make their mark with the AES system in the US during the SamSho II release.
By the time V Special was released SNK HQ in CA was/is a historical landmark.
BB
I know dude but surely the white/low blood would have been implemented by the Japanese devs? Probably a decision made by them because they assume westerners are pussies who can’t eat with chop sticks and can’t stand red blood.

Or maybe the Japanese devs still hate you even now for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and this is how they got their revenge.

Theory checks out.
 

Neo Alec

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I know dude but surely the white/low blood would have been implemented by the Japanese devs? Probably a decision made by them because they assume westerners are pussies who can’t eat with chop sticks and can’t stand red blood.

Or maybe the Japanese devs still hate you even now for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and this is how they got their revenge.

Theory checks out.
As a first, the SSVS AES censorship impacted all regions. Using a Japan bios doesn't fix the issue. As mentioned, there was an incident in Japan that led to the decision to censor it in all regions.
 

Fygee

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Neo-Geo censorship was always nonsensical. Mai's iron bra. White/green blood in KOF, Metal Slug, and Sam Sho.

Solutions looking for a problem.

The American parental/governmental moral panic was long in the past by the time they were smashing their releases with censorship in the mid 90s onward. By the time home ports of Mortal Kombat II came out in 1994, even Nintendo allowed the full on gore in the game. Nobody in the US gave a shit about a little blood or bouncing tits in 1996, and they especially didn't for games on, by then, outdated obscure arcade hardware and even more niche home consoles.

The irony is if they had left all the censorship out, it might have actually given the games more attention.

It all circles back to SNK's absolutely horrendous and outdated marketing, and the very "Japanese" mindset that came with it. Either SNK USA was powerless to do anything about it, or they just didn't bother to try.

SSVS was just another instance of that very "Japanese" mindset that is extraordinarily reactionary to a bad event occurring, when the reality is that what they did made absolutely no difference on the violent event that occurred.
 

city41

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NGPC games were ESRB rated. The size of the market and where the game is sold are the main factors.
 

HeavyMachineGoob

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ESRB ratings became mandatory for video games sold at physical retail in 1994. Neo Geo homecarts were absolutely still being sold in small and medium retail stores like Electronics Boutique at that time. It wasn't until the late 90s that homecarts started drifting toward mail order and online sales.

I think an important question is, how mandatory was ESRB for retail? Was ESRB only required if you wanted your game in the big box stores like Walmart and Kaybee Toys?

Really makes me wonder if Nintendo and Sega absolutely had a choice of ignoring the ESRB, at the expense of poor PR.
 

butthurt coconut

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ESRB ratings became mandatory for video games sold at physical retail in 1994. Neo Geo homecarts were absolutely still being sold in small and medium retail stores like Electronics Boutique at that time. It wasn't until the late 90s that homecarts started drifting toward mail order and online sales.

I think an important question is, how mandatory was ESRB for retail? Was ESRB only required if you wanted your game in the big box stores like Walmart and Kaybee Toys?

Really makes me wonder if Nintendo and Sega absolutely had a choice of ignoring the ESRB, at the expense of poor PR.
Maybe Neo games were somehow classified differently because it was the same exact ROM used in arcade games, and perhaps arcade games weren't rated by the ESRB? Not sure if holds any weight though.
 

HeavyMachineGoob

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That's a possible explanation

Except USA Neo Geo CD games never had ESRB ratings either and those are not 1:1 arcade ROMs sold at retail, they are ports, equivalent to Saturn and PS1.
 

Neo Alec

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ESRB ratings became mandatory for video games sold at physical retail in 1994. Neo Geo homecarts were absolutely still being sold in small and medium retail stores like Electronics Boutique at that time. It wasn't until the late 90s that homecarts started drifting toward mail order and online sales.
I doubt this. I only remember home carts/consoles sold at retail shops in the early days (first 2-3 years of the system). NGCD was a strictly mail order/aftermarket affair in the US.
 

HeavyMachineGoob

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So when exactly did the homecart leave retail store shelves?

That would be kinda funny it was actually the ESRB in 1994 that became the final push SNK needed to exit the physical retail space.
 

wataru330

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I always thought ESRB was optional, just like PMRC music labels were optional. Folks just went along, to get along because some of the big box retailers called for it.

There was plenty of music being sold at mom and pop record stores without the PMRC label- it follows that Neo carts were niche enough to follow suit. It’s not like the Barone’s had a master plan to get carts into K•Marts or some such.
 

Tripredacus

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ESRB is optional, but being a big corporate entity they are able to offer perks that wouldn't be available otherwise. Now I'm sure that they've wrangled the big box retail giants into exclusivity contracts where they are only able to sell ESRB rated games and not able to sell ones that are not. Non-rated games still exist in the US but primarily on PC. It would also effect import ability. These agreements likely is what caused ESRB to be adopted in Canada and Mexico and now is being used in South America and South East Asia as well.
 

BlackaneseNiNjA

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The ESRB system was voluntary, though all of the console manufacturers and certain retailers would eventually come to require the ratings.*

Considering that SNK was both the primary console manufacturer and game publisher for the system, in addition to being primarily concerned with the japanese market first, it’s understandable that compliance with the new ESRB rating system would have remained a lower priority in 1994 (lack of market share in the US notwithstanding). As noted by an above poster, the Neo Geo Pocket Color games would eventually be sold with the ratings on US store shelves circa 1999.

The japanese CERO rating system wouldn’t debut until around 2002 so it makes sense that the japanese home system, Neo Geo CD, Neo Geo Pocket, and Neo Geo Pocket Color titles would lack a retail CERO rating as well.

*sources:
**obligatory:
ESRGoob
 
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