'Religious themes' are forbidden, but not necessarily forever.
Indie game The Binding of Isaac was denied even the possibility of a 3DS eShop release last year, and Nintendo’s Dan Adelman says “it kind of kills me...it kills me right now that I had to make that phone call.” So why isn’t it coming to Nintendo platforms?
“We carve out some categories of content we don’t allow,” Adelman tells IGN. “Religious themes is one of those topics. And so it was deemed to be in violation of that.” So The Binding of Isaac's abstract interpretation of Biblical stories doesn't quite gel with the rules -- and anything of its sort will get the red light, too. The easiest solution, of course, at least from the outside, is that Nintendo should simply adjust its restrictive policies.
So why doesn't it?
Adelman suspects Isaac would sell well on Nintendo’s 3DS, as it did on PC, but insists that Nintendo must “remain true” to the established rules. “Maybe we should revisit the entire concept guideline on religious themes,” muses Adelman. “Maybe we should just get rid of that altogether. But given that, that’s right now one of our stances.”
Damon Baker, who does marketing for Nintendo, adds, "there have been a lot of initiatives recently in terms of revamping the guidelines, re-addressing how to make the development process easy as possible for Nintendo platforms...We’re going to continue to hit that message over and over. But hopefully it’s becoming more and more clear that it’s easier than ever before to develop games for Nintendo platforms."
With the exception, of course, of games with something to say about religion.
Improving established rules is a process, and Nintendo seems aware of its prohibitive problems. “We’re definitely open to revisiting [policies] from time to time,” Adelman says. “What we need to do is be a bit more flexible sometimes as far as interpreting those guidelines and making exceptions where they do make sense. But we’re a large company. We’re kind of going through some of our own growing pains in that regard."
Here's hoping Nintendo is serious about changing, because, as it stands, its commandments could scare off creativity.