'Pinball FX3' Fans Notice Williams' Pinball Pack Censorship, Zen Studios Responds

Last month, we reported the news that Zen Studios was expanding its Pinball FX3 line-up with actual pinball tables from Williams/Bally. Well, it launched last week, and fans of the game loved it -- but also noticed a little something with the translation of the tables.

A report from Ars Technica suggests that the developer actually had to censor a few things on the tables. While most folks didn't notice, a few did, with subtle changes to the backglass and side table art. These include the removal of blood from swords; beer cans being replaced with soda cans; and covering up of scantily clad women.

Apparently some fans were furious that the design of this particular table went through these changes. However, Mel Kirk, vice president of publishing for Zen Studios, explained that it was done to keep Pinball FX3 as a "family-friendly" set of tables, so that its ESRB rating wouldn't bump up.

Said Kirk, "We pride ourselves on Pinball FX being a very family-friendly game. People expect a specific type of game associated with certain types of content. I'm not going to jeopardize all those relationships, all that history, all those families that play the game for some bits of artwork."

"We've been penalized ourselves by the ESRB previously. We made some mistakes. We can't afford to be caught again."

"I don't want to minimize their importance, but I do believe it's a very vocal minority [complaining] because our sales for our first few days are through the roof, off the chart."

"In extreme cases like this, something Zen has considered for a while is, is there another iteration of Pinball FX that can exist? It's a completely different game experience, it has more mature content, it can have blood and guts, there can be more mature themes, simulated gambling. That is something we're actively talking about internally right now…It's really just a matter of how much we want to focus on this. Does it bother us enough that people are mad at us?… It's a vocal minority, but nonetheless they're very important and we want to make them happy too."

"For all the hardcore players that don't like what we've done, we have just as many people saying thank you for doing this, because now my kids can play too, and they now know these games. If the artwork and some of the things that are more mature are super important to people, we'll hear them and we'll try to make those available, maybe under a different label or a different game. But FX3 is a family-friendly game."

"I have daughters myself that are 8 and 10 and I'm so excited that I can let them play Medieval Madness and not worry about some of the things that are in there that they're not ready for."

I didn't notice too many of these changes myself, as the games still play like their arcade counterparts. But some purists that are seeking the unaltered pinball experience may be better off seeking real-life tables. Honestly, though, you shouldn't be too terribly bothered by it, unless you really wanted those beer cans and cigars on the backglass.


Pinball FX3 is available now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.

(Hat tip to Ars Technica for the details!)