Global Game Industry News Blog

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thinking Through the ESRB's AO Rating

A couple of very interesting articles have emerged regarding the AO rating for Manhunt 2 on the Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3. Besides the abnormal amount of attention being given to the rating decision, I was actually most interested in a little Joystiq article about Thrill Kill and the sexual content of most AO games.

It has also forefronted Sony and Nintendo's licencing limitations of AO content. I bet most people didn't know that. I'm also interested in what counts as AO in other markets, like Japan.

Joystiq - Remembering Thrill Kill, the 'other' violent AO-rated game
Searching the Entertainment Software Rating Board website by the Adults Only rating yields only two games without strong sexual content or mature sexual themes: Peak Entertainment Casinos for featuring "gambling" and Thrill Kill for Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence.

GameDaily - Official: No Manhunt 2 on Wii
Regarding the AO rating for the title, a Nintendo spokesperson told GameDaily BIZ, "Games made for Nintendo systems enjoy a broad variety of styles, genres and ratings. These are some of the reasons our Wii and Nintendo DS systems appeal to such a broad range of people. 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 does not allow any AO-rated content on its systems."
[UPDATE] It would appear that Sony is taking very much the same stance as Nintendo when it comes to Manhunt 2. A spokesperson told GameSpot, "It's currently our policy not to allow the playback of AO-rated content on our systems." - More Bad News for Manhunt 2
In Nintendo’s own Nintendo Buyer’s Guide the company clearly states, "Please note that Nintendo does not sell or license games that carry the ESRB rating 'AO' (Adults Only)."
Currently it’s SCE’s policy not to allow the playback of AO rated content on our systems.

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