There was some big controversy stirred up yesterday on the interwebs as the ESRB handed down their initial sentence rating of AO (Adults Only) for the anticipated game Manhunt 2. The game is to be released on PS2, PSP, and Wii simultaneously on July 10. For some reason, both Nintendo and Sony have adopted policies that they will not allow licensed third party software providers to release AO content on their console (meaning that only games without the license on the package, such as the white wii stripe at the top of Wii games and the “Playstation 2? on the side of PS2 games, can have such a rating). This means that Rockstar’s upcoming title has no choice but to either abandon production (a stupid move for a game that’s already complete enough to be handed a rating) or take out enough of the content or mood to change the rating back down to M.
I personally don’t care about this game at all, and I’ll probably never even play it, but I feel like this situation and the attitudes of both Sony and Nintendo toward this issue are somewhat anti-competitive. Releasing a game with no license is a veritable death sentence for a console game. Retroactive edit of the game once it’s in this production phase seems as if it would take something away from the original intentions of the game designers. Rockstar’s in a pretty bad situation.
What are they to do? Personally I hate everything about having a video game rating system at all; what a good way to pass the buck to someone else for corrupting your kids, though. It’s not as if putting any kind of rating or preventative measure on a product has ever stopped any minor or otherwise from consuming as much of that product as they wanted. AO is a slightly different ballgame from an M rating, though. I don’t have enough information about how the ESRB came to their judgement, and whether it was a marginal case or not. However, the ESRB seems to have a disproportionate amount of power relative to the amount of good they’re actually doing.
I have a feeling that most of this hype is just a big marketing scheme for Rockstar, those silly guys. My feeling is based on nothing but my gut, which is why I believe it to be true with unflinching certainty. Hopefully Rockstar bucks up and tries to reverse this rating. Otherwise, I hope they make it way worse and send me a copy at my home address. At least it will be more interesting than trying to sit through another Saw movie.