Publication of AO-Rated Manhunt 2 Disallowed by Sony, Nintendo

By Chris Remo, Jun 20, 2007 2:59pm PDT Console manufacturers Sony and Nintendo have stated their intention not to allow publication of Manhunt 2 on their systems in its current state, following the "Adults Only" rating assigned to the game yesterday by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

Refusal to certify AO-rated games is standard policy for both manufacturers; though the game was not developed for Xbox or Xbox 360, Microsoft has similar guidelines. Manhunt 2 was developed by Rockstar Toronto for Wii, Rockstar London for PlayStation 2, and Rockstar Leeds for PSP. It was originally scheduled for a July 10 release in North America.

In a statement issued to GameSpot, a Sony representative said, "It's currently our policy not to allow the playback of AO-rated content on our systems."

"Games made for Nintendo systems enjoy a broad variety of styles, genres and ratings... As with books, television and movies, different content is meant for different audiences," said a Nintendo representative in a statement. "As stated on, Nintendo does not allow any AO-rated content on its systems." When contacted by Shacknews, Nintendo offered the same response.

The ESRB rating came on the heels of the British Board of Film Classification denying a rating to Manhunt 2 in the UK, blocking the game from sale. While ESRB ratings have no legal authority, major retailers generally do not stock AO-rated products.

It is likely Rockstar will appeal the ESRB's decision, or modify the game and submit it for reclassification.

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66 Threads | 224 Comments

  • "It's just like how your multiplex won't run porno flicks."

    No, it's not the same.

    It's more like DVDs, where you buy one and can watch whatever is on it (aside from region restrictions, which is just....ugh). Except, even that's not too similar unless your DVD player disallows anything above R/TV-MA and doesn't allow you to disable that dumb restriction due to the manufacturer being a douche.

    You see, the real problem isn't the AO rating, ESRB, Rockstar, or Take's the stupid console companies and most retailers not liking pixelated ickiness (or more specifically: blindly banning AO games).

    The funny thing is that Rockstar and Take Two could put an end to all of these AO problems if they just made GTA IV an AO game. There is absolutely no way the console companies would disallow a new GTA game, and retailers would lose too much money by not selling it. Sure, it's fine to cause problems after most of the money has already been made like with San Andreas and the hot coffee stuff, but do you realize how much money wouldn't have been made if San Andreas was AO from the start and consoles/retailers banned it?

    Shit tons of money = "Wait, what policy?"

  • One of the issues here i think might be developpers of such games pushing the enveloppe farther each and every time. For example, check out the first GTA...then check manhunt...and then San Andreas with the hot coffee thing. I mean, each and every time they win with a "we are in a free country bla bla bla" they push farther, they make their next game more violent, more gory etc.

    I mean jeez, those arent zombies you are killing now or some kind of extraterrestrials invading earth or whatever. This isnt a team competition like the Battlefield games. Its not about survival (well the first one was a tiny little bit), its a bout being a murderer and murdering in as many creative ways as possible. I also would not blame the gov. for this. the gov. doesn't care about such issues unless they affect re-election in some way.

    I also agree that most parents need to have their hand held for them because they have no clue, they only want to put little Johnny in front of the tv screen so they can go do something else than play with him when they get back from work. So they are going to buy anything little johnny wants and of course little johnny, like all children, will want to try what he normally would not be able to try.

    So sometimes people, like the ESRB have to put their pants on and put a stop to the nonsense because for 10 of the people out there that might just take it as a sick sick sick game, there are at the very least 1 that will think its great and try to imitate it.

    Another question is, how sick and depraved a game needs to be to be fun? I mean, you can do sick things with "The Sims" if you want to, but normally it doesnt encourage you to play that way. If you want to talk about freedom of whatever...i think this is really it.

  • Well, looks like we now know the limit.

    Thus far professionally made mainstream games have never really been so universally banned. Sex games and 'Ku Klux Klan Party!' type games have been the only victims of such universal condemnation, and with pretty good reason; They're usually, aside from questionable content, quite badly made.

    The ignorance of the first posters worries me, and the haste with which, and unusual verbosity with which they posted long and well written articles before any of the more predictable replies came in suggests that they were waiting for this chance, possibly as part of a conservative organisation or with some kind of plan. Creepy.

    Could simply be attention whores screaming the contrary opinion, of course.

    Manhunt... Manhunt was banned due to it's alleged, and later disproven connection to the murder of a british teenager by another in the year of it's release. The publicity gave it a great boost to sales once the excitement had died down for the initial release.

    The businessmen know this well.

    So we'll assume Manhunt 2 has stepped far beyond the boundaries of it's prequel... But how?

    Manhunt 1 had the constant defence that your character was mostly a mute, a mysterious death row inmate of no specified crime who was forced through a night of brutality. The level of violence used had little effect on the game, and the more violent the kills, the more difficult they were to pull off due to the timing... The game encouraged violence but did not reward it and the choice was permenantly in the hands of the player, as they controlled a character who did not choose to fight, but was forced to at gunpoint.

    It had a fair plot, great dialogue, a good audio-atmosphere, and impressive graphics for a PS2 game, while the changing tactics as the weaponry moves from melee to firearms and back again kept the game fresh right through, for me. It got some very good reviews if I remember correctly, for quality, not content.

    I'm thinking Manhunt 2 may have made the mistake of making the violence voluntary on the part of the character, and forcing the player to commit acts of sadism to actually complete objectives, rather than leaving it as a meaningless choice of method to achieve a more open end.

    Manhunt 2 must have a different mood, I think. I'd still gladly play it, just as I read my horror novels that are far worse than any game I've ever played, and I expect I'd enjoy the experience.

    This is my choice. I'm hoping for an uncensored PC release, if any publisher wants to show everyone it has the balls to expose itself to the media firing line and break the censorship.

    Perhaps it would make a good digital distribution release? I doubt Valve will be keen, but there's a chance, and it avoids the whole 'Walmart' problem of squeamish retailers fearing lawsuits and christian extremists with firebombs.

    - Jakk

  • This is good news. The last thing the game industry needs is this game getting into the hands of some insane teenager who was going to murder a bunch of people anyway but just happens to do it after obtaining this game. We're constantly claiming that all of these games we play are something more than murder simulators so why are so many defending a game that /is/ nothing more than a tasteless murder simulator? Based on what I've seen and read so far, it would not be easy to get this game down to an "M" level and if Rockstar includes the removed content on the media in any form, we'll have another ugly GTA situation on our hands. Yes, there are problems with the ESRB and the way ratings work in the game industry but this is not the fight to pick.

    If Rockstar was smart, they'd just release this piece of shit (either rated "AO" or unrated) for PC and forget the console market.

  • Let's be serious here for a moment people. How many parents would have really paid attention to the ratings and not allowed little Johnny to purchase the game?

    I mean really how many times have you been in EB/Gamestop/Best Buy and seen a clueless parent who only assumes that all games are "for kids," because that's what their expectations of video games have always been. Not as adult entertainment. And then they let little Johnny buy it with his allowance money.

    Wasn't there a comic a few months back that made light of those kind of situations? Until today's parents get a clue and monitor what can and cannot be played this is going to happen. Until folks take responsibility for their actions it will always be this way. Nintendo doing this should not surprise a single one of you, they've always been family friendly since the days of white blood in Street Fighter 2, Sony surprises me a bit, but they have a very large market penetration.

    I'm just as upset about censorship in this country as anyone because I know what my daughter can (Paper Mario) and cannot (RE4: Wii Edition) play, so I'm not mad at the game companies, I'm mad at the stupid parents who continue to live in their bubble and not realize they have the choices on what little Johnny plays and that is why the game companies have to do their "due diligence," to keep the media and the Soccer Mom culture happy and content and not making it a "BLAME CANADA," situation.

  • Our story so far...

    Guv'mint: Too much violence.
    Shackers: Public censorship sucks! Give private enforcement and the ESRB a chance
    ESRB: lol AO
    Sontendo: We're using our authority as platform regulars to enforce a privately-held policy to not license AO-rated games.
    Shackers: OMG what happened to freedomz in this country!?

    For gaming, the alternative to public censorship is private censorship. Movie theaters are not obligated to show R-rated movies, they just do. And after all this talking about how games should follow the movie model and how people who "understand" gaming should be running the rules and not the big ol' ineffective and inefficient guv'mint, the theater chains of the console world are saying they won't be running this title on their screens and everyone pisses their pants.