Following the censorship of Manhunt 2
in both the UK and America, Take-Two has announced that it plans to “suspend” release of the game.
In a prepared statement, the publisher said, "Take-Two Interactive Software has temporarily suspended plans to distribute Manhunt 2
for the Wii or PlayStation platforms while it reviews its options with regard to the recent decisions made by the British Board of Film Classification and Entertainment Software Rating Board.”
The company was left with little choice. The BBFC's refusal to rate the game
means it can't be released in the UK, while the Entertainment Software Rating Board's decision to rate it Adults Only
has prompted both Sony and Nintendo to state that they won't allow its release on their systems.
Furthermore, even if the platform holders had allowed the game's release, major US retailers such as Best Buy, GameStop and Wal-Mart refuse to carry AO-rated games.
There is a whiff in Sony and Nintendo's positions of, at best, confusion. An AO rating means that no one under 18 may purchase a game without an adult present. An 18-rating in the UK also means that no-one under 18 may buy the game. Walk into your local GameStation, however, and you'll find the 18-rated Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
available for both the Wii and the PS2. SPOnG contacted Sony and Nintendo to find out if their decision to ban AO games for their platforms will thus also mean they ban 18-rated games. We are still awaiting an official response.
Effectively, the difference between a 'Mature' title and an AO title in the States is only one year. The ESRB's president, Patricia Vance, justified the existence of the two ratings†
, (one of which means an effective death sentence for a game), saying “the real utility of the AO rating is in communicating intensity. It indicates that the content in the game is more intense than what is typically found in an M-rated title, and the rating is there because that distinction is useful to consumers.”
Frankly, it sounds like waffle to SPOnG. However, while SPOnG would like to see Take-Two take on this unfair censorship and win, it's looking unlikely.
Take-Two's statement about the suspension of the game's release concluded, “We continue to stand behind this extraordinary game. We believe in freedom of creative expression, as well as responsible marketing, both of which are essential to our business of making great entertainment.” That's all well and good, but some commercial realities are lurking in the background here. Take-Two could spend lots of time, money and effort on fighting the game's censorship, but it's spent a lot of money developing the game and is already suffering financially at the moment.
Patricia Vance pointed out, “The AO rating has been assigned more often than it actually ends up appearing on product shipped. Our system affords publishers the opportunity to modify and resubmit games that receive the AO rating in light of the business ramifications that such a rating currently presents.”
To see what SPOnG thought of Manhunt 2
when we played it, click here
Have your say about censorship in SPonG's poll, located to the right-hand side of this page.†Source: Kotaku