Take-Two 'Suspends' Manhunt 2 Release

Revision of content in the works?

Posted by Staff
ESRB President Patricia Vance: Waffle.
ESRB President Patricia Vance: Waffle.
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
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Comments

Michael Baiey 22 Jun 2007 12:05
1/8
Just re-read the above mentioned preview based on the first culpa of levels of the game. I hop that if and when we eventually get to play this game it is as good as all the hype. Also I think it very interesting that if you look on the comments page of the preview there is a debate about if the game is to violent this was a long time be for the BBFC banned the game. So may be gamers secretly have always had doubts about the level of violins in this game.
Joji 22 Jun 2007 12:48
2/8
I think gamers were concerned that M2 would turn out like the first one, which wasn't that great. The violence in the game is linked to the context of the story, to take it out of that and parade it I feel isn't fair on Take 2 and Rockstar.

The BBFC make a point about 'stealth' and 'killing' but strangely passes all of the MGS and Tenchu games which do exactly the same thing. If anyone says they are different types of game, they are then being biased in justifing their context, but not M2's.

There's a clear case of double standard and possible politcal pressure in this decision. Do we really think the timing of this whole thing is any coincidence, after the whole biz with Resistance? On top of that, did the ESRB test the Manhunt code and make a clear unbiased decision within 24hrs of the BBFC decision? I some how doubt that very much.

Now Ireland have done the same. Did they also test there code thoroughly and come to the same conclusion so quickly? With all this stuff in mind, (if this went to court T2 could still win this. It all currently seems very one sided.
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king skins 22 Jun 2007 12:49
3/8
Michael Baiey wrote:
So may be gamers secretly have always had doubts about the level of violins in this game.

I can whole heartedly say that I support a ban on all games that make excessive use of violins in them!

We must protect our children from these instruments of evil!
king skins 22 Jun 2007 12:54
4/8
Joji wrote:
On top of that, did the ESRB test the Manhunt code and make a clear unbiased decision within 24hrs of the BBFC decision? I some how doubt that very much.

Now Ireland have done the same.


Do you think that maybe, just maybe they sent out copies to all three boards and any other rating board at the same time?
Tim Smith 22 Jun 2007 12:54
5/8
Michael Baiey wrote:
So may be gamers secretly have always had doubts about the level of violins in this game.


There was always a debate about the level of violence in the game. It is a violent game.

Shakespeare wrote about people being eaten in pies, being blinded, committing suicide, stabbing their leaders, murdering their lovers, fighting with poisoned swords... so, in 1807 Thomas Bowdler produced, The Family Shakespeare, "in which nothing is added to the original text; but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud to the family."

This is now seen as one of the most laughable acts of self-righteous vandalism to occur to a creative work.

And that was simply taking out the nasty bits, not banning the entire works.

I acted - as in played the part of - in King Lear when I was 14. Check out the blinding of Gloucester.. now that is a gruesome scene. Parents and teachers were all full of praise (gods know why) at the performance. I didn't go out an blind anybody.

If the argument was about violence then the Bible, the Q'uran, the Bhagavad Gita, Guru Granth Sahib (and many other holy books) would all be banned. This is an argument about the rights of adults to be adult.



Tom 22 Jun 2007 12:58
6/8
They've always not allowed AO games to be published, same with Microsoft, only exception was when the GTA hot coffee scene was found and the game was bumped upto an AO. The difference is something rated 18 here would be rated M (17+) in America, AO is the sort of last resort rating. We have R18 which normal shops aren't allowed to sell so not many people have heard of it.

So basically, of course they're not banning 18 games on their platforms... its just M is their version of our 18 and AO is above that.
Joji 22 Jun 2007 13:19
7/8
Tom, I know the difference between rating systems here and across the pond, but this isn't so much about that. What this is now about, is freedom of choice in media for adults and double standards.

I agree about the Shakespeare thing though. His plays are great and part of english culture, but putting that fact aside, some of them are still very violent and yet so celebrated (yes, even in schools), so with that in mind how is acting out violence as part of a game and acting out violence on a theatre stage any different? Both are visual entertainment and follow story.

If Rockstar went back to the drawing board, and made the whole thing a shakespearean adult horror, (that would be interesting to see and play) would Manhunt 2 then be passed for sale?
RiseFromYourGrave 22 Jun 2007 13:24
8/8
"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."

bravo spong, very good point. their morals do seem to vary depending what country they speak of

watch you dont make them knee-jerk ban mortal kombat now, spong dearest
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