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Monday June 25, 2007 9:20 am
The Adults Only Manhunt 2 Saga
Take Two is in what we call a pickle. Manhunt 2, set for release on July 10, has received a preliminary ESRB rating of Adults Only. Initially, this was believed to be a major problem due to the fact that some major retailers – such as Walmart – wouldn’t carry the game. Walmart composes a significant portion of the videogame retail market, making the AO rating a major blow.
Then came word that Nintendo doesn’t allow AO-rated games to appear on its systems. In other words, no Manhunt 2 on Wii, or at least not until the game receives a lower rating.
But as with books, television and movies, different content is meant for different audiences. That’s why the ESRB provides ratings to help consumers understand the content of a game before they purchase it. As stated on Nintendo.com, Nintendo does not allow any AO-rated content on its systems.
How about Sony, who was supposed to see the game land on both the PlayStation 2 and PSP?
Currently it’s SCE’s policy not to allow the playback of AO rated content on our systems.
So where does this leave Take Two and Rockstar? They’re left with a very limited number of options, none of which are particularly attractive.
“The ESRB has issued an initial rating of AO (Adults Only) for Manhunt 2,” Take-Two said in a prepared statement. “We believe the process of rating videogames is to help people make informed entertainment choices and not to limit them. Manhunt 2 was created for mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature) rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of media. We are exploring our options with regard to Manhunt 2.”
From the sounds of it, the first logical step would be to appeal the rating. But, nothing is guaranteed. So, either Rockstar can amend the game’s content and allow for the game to receive a Mature rating, or it can shift development to PC, thereby avoiding all of the issues presented by Nintendo and Sony’s policies. A PC version of the original Manhunt was released, so a PC version of Manhunt 2 isn’t far-fetched.
A spokesman stated that it was too early to go into details of what direction the company will take, it seems unlikely that the company would want to entirely abandon the PS2 and Wii versions of the game.
However, if both versions of the game received an AO rating, then either the Wii’s controls had nothing to do with it, or the game itself is simply too violent. The development team was taken by surprise, who thought Manhunt 2 was consistent with a mature rating, and cited the fact that the original game didn’t receive a similar reaction.
Could the AO version of the game make its way to PCs, and the console versions seen a more toned-down game? Only time will tell, but this will certainly be an extremely important series of events for the games industry.
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