Japanese retailer Nojima has announced that it will stop selling games rated "CERO Z" in its stores.
The announcement made via press release mentions that the discontinuation is effective immediately. Until now, the retailer carried CERO Z games with specific displays indicating the restriction of sale to customers under 18 and the requirement of age confirmation upon purchase.
Yet, the retailer has now decided to just stop selling the games "to provide a safer and more secure shopping environment for all customers visiting the stores." This applies to all 210 stores of the popular electronics retailer across Japan.
If you're unfamiliar with the Japanese rating system, CERO Z indicates that sale to customers under 18 is forbidden. Unlike CERO D (17+) and under, verification of the customer's age is required at the time of purchase.
Examples of popular CERO Z games include The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, Cyberpunk 2077, God of War: Ragnarok, most of the Resident Evil series, Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, No More Heroes 3, AI:The Somnium Files, Made In Abyss: Binary Star Falling Into Darkness, and more.
The CERO system is considered particularly strict compared to its western counterparts, especially in regard to violence and gore. Developers often try to avoid it because it involves serious challenges for sales and marketing. Like Nojima, retailers may refuse to carry the games or confine them to less visible shelf space, while local press often refuses to cover them.
As a result, most Japanese developers try to avoid having their games stamped with a CERO Z rating whenever possible, which is why most of the games affected are western. Some offer censored CERO D versions (albeit the CERO Z versions are also often censored because certain portrayals of gore fall beyond what CERO will accept at all), while some aren't released on the local market at all. A recent example is Striking Distance Studios' The Callisto Protocol. The level of violence portrayed in the game led it to have a CERO Z classification refused and the developer was not willing to censor it.
It's worth mentioning that this does not usually apply to games focusing on hardcore sexual content which are entirely confined to the PC market and don't usually get a CERO rating, falling under different regulations. Retailers that sell them in Japan often have dedicated areas of their stores or even entire floors where entrance is strictly forbidden to customers under 18, as you can see below.