Rockstar Appeals British Manhunt 2 Ban

Not everyone is interested in playing the universally banned Manhunt 2. 

But many adult gamers would appreciate the option to decide for themselves whether or not to give the controversial game a go.

It’s taken six weeks, but Rockstar has finally decided to appeal the British Board of Film Classification’s refusal to rate Manhunt 2, which effectively banned the game from sale in the UK.  British game industry news site MCV reports Rockstar has lodged an official plea with the Video Appeals Committee.

VAC chairman John Woods will organize a hearing on the appeal, which will include arguments from both Rockstar and the BBFC, as well as a demonstration of the game.  So far, no date has been set.

Nor is there word yet as to whether Rockstar will appeal the Adults Only (AO) rating assigned to Manhunt 2 by the ESRB, which affects the North American market. Because console manufacturers won’t license AO games to play on their systems, the rating as it stands is a death knell for Manhunt 2. Given the news of the UK appeal, similar action seems likely in regard to the ESRB.

Via: Gamasutra

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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  1. 0
    orangekrush ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The issue on appeal is not the content of the game but of the right of a government body to effectivly ‘ban’ a video game. And let’s not get into the ‘independant BBFC’ thing, they are funded and supported by government.

    Private individuals should be able to create and distribute videogames with any content. If someone wants to rate the content in order to advise the public, then fine – nothing wrong with that. But where a government is enforcing morals by banning certain things and allowing others, this is exactly where a truly independant body (the court) comes in.

    Prediction – the ‘banning’ will be considered beyond the powers of this ‘independant body’ and the game will be given a rating to advise consumers.

  2. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @E. Zachary Knight:

    There was some fighting a few years back about VAC’s overturning BBFC rulings, and the extent to which the Home Office was interfering in BBFC policy, but I cant find any cases over the last few years of significant VAC reversals (not saying there arent any). A lot is probably going to depend on whats in the game. If the rumours about there being a rape scene are true, then Rockstar could well be onto a loser, as the rules on sexual violence are far tougher than in other areas.

    As for the rating issue, I dont particularly agree with you. I think the free speech argument tends to be overplayed in these cases. Whilst the idea of censorship does send a chill down the spine, im not particularly happy about the idea of a whole underbelly of professionally developed games coming out that push each other further and further to test how much sick violence they can cram into their games. It could so easily become the whole ‘horror film vs video nasty’ thing all over again, and we really dont need that crap right now.


    I can only presume they’ll argue on the grounds of creative freedom and draw direct parallels to movies. Cant see them getting anywhere to be honest, as with Manhunt 2 as their test case (going on what has been seen of the game so far) they’re going to struggle to convince anyone that they had some deep creative vision in mind.

    I think in time people are going to have to wake up to the idea that we cant simple say ‘Saw has someone getting their eyeball melted by a blowtorch, so why cant we do it?!’. Being an interactive industry carries some extra responsiblities, and I reckon its better if we shoulder them and choose our battles carefully. Rockstar are doing us nothing but damage at the moment with their ‘anything should go’ approach.

  3. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I read every post that I reply to, to not do so would be rude. What you are talking about however appears to be outside the scope of the VAC to decide apon, and is simply what you would like to happen. If the VAC cannot make that particular judgement, then what is the relevance? As for a ban being an encroachment on our rights, we have different ways of looking at these things to the US, and many of us prefer our own system.

    As for Take 2 and Rockstar, im quite happy for them to not try and fight pointless battles like this quite frankly, especially as the only thing they are doing it for is their own profit margins. They are hurting my industry with this crap, and im getting sick of them trying to claim they are doing it for moral reasons, when its about nothing but the cash and kudos.

  4. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The fellow pictured doesn’t seem like the type to be sympathetic to Manhunt 2’s plight…but then again maybe my brain is still in stereotyping mode after reading all the RE5 comments.

  5. 0
    Marlowe says:

    The best we can hope for is a R* win that forces both the UK and the US to rethink their rating systems and realize that there’s an inherent flaw when certain ratings don’t “inform the public” as they are supposed to but instead make decisions for the public.

  6. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    @ Daniel

    Possible, if the appeal to the BBFC is successful.

    Then again, if Rockstar wins its appeal in Britain, it’s also possible they could use that to appeal the AO rating here in the States.

  7. 0
    Scottland89 says:

    Despite not wanting to play the game, I’m glad there is going to be an appeal. I disapprove of censorship at this level. Fair enough games getting rated for it’s intended audiance, but I want to have the choice of either playing it or not playing it, rather than the game getting a ban (even if I don’t want to play it).

    Also, just incase it helps, please sign this

    This was reported by GP a while back, when the news of the ban was new.

  8. 0
    orangekrush ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Read my entry – how they rate and what processes are not relevant. The effective ‘ban’ of a private citizen’s right to distribute software by not rating it is an encrachment on the rights of all Britons.

    That will be challenged by Take 2 and you should thank them for doing it.

  9. 0
    Terminator44 says:

    Seeing as how Rockstar has a much more articulate management than before, I am fairly certain that they will succeed. After all, the only other case where a game was banned by the BBFC was overturned on appeal as well. That game was Carmeggedon, and it wasn’t exactly the Mona Lisa either. I don’t think MH2 will have to prove itself to be high art to win this, because artistic merit is not a prequisite for free speech. If it is in the U.K., then something’s wrong, because how do you define art?

    No, I think their approach will be to attempt to convince the VAC that while their game isn’t kid-friendly, it has nothing in it that means it MUST be banned. Unless there is something extreme like a rape scene, I am sure they could pull it off.

  10. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    If their only argument is that the BBFC doesnt have the right not to classify, then they may as well pack up their bags and go home now.

    The BBFC have a long established right to refuse classification, and have done so on numerous occasions. Their decisions get appealed against from time to time, but only on the grounds that the media should receive a rating, not on the process itself. The VAC have absolutely no power in my understanding to pass judgement on the actual responsibilities of the BBFC. They are nothing more than an appeals process that decides whether of not the BBFC were overly harsh in an individual judgement.

  11. 0
    Raum says:

    @ Kentonio

    There won’t be a rape scene in the game, Rockstar wouldn’t dare. The rules are so tight on that issue, they would never get the game released under any circumstances. It’s just not something they would want to risk.

    @ Terminator44

    Carmagedon only got through by changing blood and skin tone to green, in an attempt to convince us the people we were killing were zombies and not people

  12. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Although Phantasmagoria had a rape scene didnt it? I suppose the context of such scenes is pretty much crucial, and if the rest of the game convinces the ratings board that you’re just going for pointless over the top shock, then they are likely to balk at giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  13. 0
    finaleve ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I would agree with T2 on this one. The game wasn’t even rated and yet it was banned? Did they make sure the game was even worth banning? The ESRB had the idea of at least giving the rating and then having the industry decide whether to give it the green light or not.

    Online distribution works though. However there are flaws in that as well, as kids can steal parents credit cards and buy it easily (or buy a visa gift card or something and pay like that)

  14. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    The BBFC are the ones who give ratings, they looked at it, and simply decided it was not acceptable to receive a rating, thats what is meant by a ban, as a title has to be rated to be sold over here.

    Usually they would give advice to the creators as to which scenes to remove/alter to make it ok, but in this case they said they couldnt envisage any reasonable changes making it ok, due to the overall tone of the product. Thats why many of us who are familiar with the BBFC tend to respect their decision. They are generally pretty reasonable people these days.

  15. 0
    orangekrush ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I respect your opinion. Despite the fact I don’t live in the US and I am not an American citizen, I believe in the rights of the individual over the state. Any encroachment, no matter how ‘small’ is too much as it tends to lessen the blow of larger encroachments later on.

    You and I are on different sides of the free speech fence and that’s ok. I have a fundamental problem with my government telling me what I can or cannot watch, play or read. I think you should too but if you don’t, well, hopefully your country elects reasonable officials and rids itself of megalomaniac public servants.

  16. 0
    JamesR says:

    Call me a raving liberal but it is my opinion that Adult Human Beings should have the right to decide what they expose themselves to – Without restriction.

    Prohibition of any kind is a disgraceful infringement on the basic rules of Freedom.

    That said, i’m on the fence about whether or not Rockstar will get a sucessful ruling out of this.

    Ultimately, since the VAC does not have the right to judge the BBFC on the grounds of infringement of Freedom, they could take the matter to Parliament or even the European Supreme Court on the grounds that refusing to rate their product is essentially unlawful censorship and is not becoming of the “Free” West we live in.

  17. 0
    Dan says:

    It is rather pointless that we have a ratings system here which can’t cater to a game of this sort. I’d have thought an 18 would be simple enough to assign… as has been previously stated, refusing classification simply highlights inherent flaws in the rating system.

    Also, first!

  18. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I cant imagine how they will win any appeal without having made some pretty drastic changes, the BBFC seemed pretty resolute about this.

  19. 0
    Yuki says:


    Agreed Dan. But if they win, perhaps it will force the BBFC and The ESRB to rethink there policy. After all, wining this would open up all kinda liability for raiting systems

  20. 0
    GameDevMich ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Kentonio – Though stranger things have happened in the industry, I tend to agree.

    I just wonder what they may argue: game content, flawed rating system, or my personal favorite, regulated control of what adults may consume.

    “. . .the supreme authority of the just state extends only to those matters which it is proper for a state to control.”

  21. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Kentonio

    The VAC has the power to overrule the BBFC rating and force them to assign a new rating. So if TT wins it will do more than you think.

    I also believe that a rating system should not have the power to not rate a game that is submitted. Nor should they have the power to ban a game because of it.

    The ESRB did the right thing and assigned the AO rating. It is now up to the console manufacturers and retailers to do the rest.

  22. 0
    MaskedPixelante ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Again, the correct answer should be “release a PC version on Steam”, if you want to play it that badly. That way, there’s no way kids can get it because they don’t have a credit card, and the adults can get the game uncensored. Everyone wins, except for “you know who”, because it’s not a full ban.

  23. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It could go either way to be honest. At first I thought the BBFC may be right, but the more I see clips from films like Saw 3, the more convinced I am that it was more about knee-jerking than actual opinion, either they should have allowed Manhunt or banned Saw 3, Hostel etc, otherwise they are being hippocrits.

    When I wrote to the BBFC about the rating, they vehemently denied that there was a gulf opening between the way Video Games are rated and how Films are, I guess we will have to wait and see.

  24. 0
    Raum says:

    I’m rooting for Rockstar in this, they deserve to win. As far as I’m concerned, the BBFC has tried to make an example of them in responce to the controversy generated by the original manhunt, to try and make themselves look like the good guys. They’ve received a good deal of critism over their ratings in the last few years, what with Saw and Hostel movies being allowed an uncensored release, the 12 rating they gave to war of the worlds (which many complained was ‘too soft’) and the unbanning of several video nasties.

    They could also be accused of bowing to political pressure, seeing as releasing Manhunt 2 would have gotten newspapers and politicians up in arms. The sad fact is, if R* wins, the game will get even more attention because of it.

  25. 0
    CyberSkull ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    They have an 18+ category right? If Saw and Hostel get 18+, why not let the same adult consumers make their decision regarding Manhunt 2.

    For the record I’m not interested in the above titles.

  26. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yes Zippy, Brokenscope is right.

    The worst they could do is refuse to rate any games for that system, but that would be very bad for them, and even worse for the developer. I don’t think that they would want to be responsible for a developer revolt.

  27. 0
    Raum says:

    @ Phantom

    I’m British, and I still think it’s a travisty. I hated the BBFC before now for bits they’ve cut out of movies, but this just takes it to a whole new extreme.

  28. 0
    orangekrush ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Do you want to go back to the ‘great’ times of 50 years ago? 100 years? How about an absolute monarchist regime? Why not make everyone serfs again? You can’t be championing that.

    Hey – if I use your analogy in reverse: Are you ready for full government authorization and regulation of everything? Of course not.

    Yes there will be extremes and yes there will be those who push the envelope. But that is what living in a free society is. If Nambla has a rally, I can exercise my freedoms and not attend it. If baptists have no shame and picket funerals, well, that is their right. And if there is some game where I fly a plane into a building, I would like to be treated like an adult and given the choice to buy it or not.

    I can only assume you would too.

  29. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Nope, thats the difference between the US and the UK. Personally if someone wants to stand outside a funeral waving a banner saying that the dead soldier deserved to die, then I want those people locked up for public disorder offences. If a group of sickos want to try and hold a rally supporting paedophila, then i’d like them to be arrested for encouraging an illegal activity. If I see someone make a game where you fly a plane into the world trade, then I want my industry to be responsible enough to say ‘We’re not publishing this shit’.

    Its not about turning back time, its about enjoying the freedoms we do enjoy and not trying to push further and rip away every last measure of control and restraint. Sometimes those restraints are there for a reason.

    It really struck me in the threads about MH2 how many people cared more about having a chance to play a sensationalist game and didnt give a damn about the potential damage such a game could do to the industry they constantly claim to love and want to protect. In a year where the anti-game lobby has grown ever more vocal, with prominant politicians and media figures speaking out against gaming, do you really think this is the time to start trying to shock?

  30. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    There are no ‘rules’ on freedom. We live in a time where we enjoy more freedom than arguably at any other time in human history. The petty ‘freedoms’ that people argue about now are nothing compared to the kind of restrictions that people lived under just decades ago. Before everyone stands up and screams about how there should never be any censorship or restrictions on speech, think about what that actually means. Think about the Westboro Baptists picketting veterans funerals, think about NAMBLA holding meetings in your neighbourhood, think about a future where computer games could be released where your character has to fly a plane into the world trade centre, and you get points for how good your aim is. No restrictions means that anything goes. You ready for that?

  31. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    E. Zachary Knight/Broken Scope

    If you “join” the ESRB you are a “member” because you have “rules” to follow in order for them to rate your games.

    In the end it is that “simple”, however doing something about the AO fiasco is far from simple,all I can do is use my half wit thoughts to start a new line of conversation over how to fix things.

  32. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Ya I noticed that the 2 levels for mature and yet its not really used I hope they can show that 18 is enough for almost any game if not its down right stupid it is not……

  33. 0
    The Octofish says:

    I think it’s really worth noting that in the UK there is no right to free speech. If the BBFC refuses to rate somthing then there we go, it becomes effectively silcenced. I think that video games are still brushed as somthing that children play which is a stigmata that needs to be overcome. After the whole Manhunt 1 incident the name manhunt its self became tainted with the thought of children killing each over to copycat the actions. The simple truth is that the BBFC is acting like Big Brother and choosing what adults may and may not see. Then again this is the same BBFC that allowed Saw 3 and Hostel through so come to think of it they must of seen somthing that was so bad that it could not be classified.

  34. 0
    JamesR says:

    The difference Kentonio between your analogy and the reality is that playing Manhunt 2 will affect nobody but the person who choses to play it.

    Someone Picketing a Veteran Funeral and hurling abuse IS being anti-social, and is thus breaking the law.

    However, an Organisation trying to promote the Legalisation of paedophilia has every right to do so in my opinion.

    Would you not want the reverse right to picket their Meetings? Even though it could be construed as anti-social?

    As for the publishing of a Video game simulating 9/11 … I think you said it best with:

    “I want my industry to be responsible enough to say ‘We’re not publishing this shit’. “

    The Industry should have the choice whether or not to publish something, Retailers should have the choice whether or not to stock something. No-one should unilaterally make that decision for them and in turn us.

    Btw … Hands up people who have downloaded JFK Reloaded. *Raises Hand*

    Ultimately I have very little interest in playing Manhunt 2 … the First was a Shambles, I just believe that it should be every adults choice what they expose themselves to.

    Censorship is never a good thing. Ever.

  35. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    should U.K get the uncensored version how much would it costs to get it imported from there, or would it not work on a game system built for the U.S.?

  36. 0
    Phantom says:

    It’s weird how more Americans seem to be worked up over the BFCC’s refusal to classify than the British are. I’ve known quite a few Brits who really trust their system to be working properly, and have been confused by the American cries of censorship.

    Cultural differences, I suppose.

  37. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It should be noted that, even if it does get re-rated (or, in fact, rated) most main distributors will refuse to stock it, there will be pressure from Vaz etc, chances are R*, even should they win this appeal, will have a pretty hard time getting places like Dixons and other ‘family fuhrer, sorry friendly’ type shops being willing to stock it. Oddly enough, I DID see Canem Canis Edit in WHSmiths, hence why I buy all my games from there now instead of Dixons Group, I prefer companies that assume that a 24 year-old male is capable of making their own decisions on what to watch and play.

  38. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    The ESRB needs to take the lead and not be in the pockets of polis console makers or consumers they need to do the ebst they can to not block media to adults but rate them to keep them out of the hands of kids,its simple the ESRB needs to put its foot down.

    1.Either the make a agreement to not rate games based on sex for 5 years if the industry will accept AO as a working NC17 level for games and console makers agree not to interfere with the approval process.(retail can still snub it as they see fit)

    2.Create a M18 level and warn console makers that if they interfere with it they will lose their membership in the ESRB,with M18 in place content with extra violence can go here,they can even black box the M18 games (have them wraped in black plastic with the name and M18 on the front for 2 years) ,retail can of coarse snub it but with the temporary “black box” approach they should embrace it more than AO.

  39. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    That’s the thing ZippyDSMlee, we have to 18 rating because we don’t have the ‘Mature’ rating, however, we have a 15 rating whilst America has that rather odd gap of 4-5 years, so games that are rated ‘up’ for Mature in the US can be rated 15 in the UK, but the ‘heavy’ end of the ‘Mature’ rating also ends up as 18 cetificate in order to be on the safe side. Manhunt is the other side of the 18 certificate, possibly the first game to ‘properly’ go to that level, it’s a test of both the Industry AND the BBFC, and I suspect the outcome will have a lot to say about whether games continue to be viewed as ‘kids toys’.

  40. 0
    Kentonio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Do some research on Westboro Baptists. Those guys were picketting funerals whilst enjoying full protection under the law to do so. The fact that special laws were brought in to prevent them doing so is a perfect illustration of why total free speech is not workable, and why your final sentence was so clearly simplistic. Total free speech could only work in a world where there were no people willing to act like total assholes. Until that wonderous day arrives, we will need (and there will be) checks and balances.

  41. 0
    JamesR says:

    There is a difference though between Public Free Speech and Censorship.

    I understand that Free Speech on a Confrontational Public level will offend people, and thus precautions must be taken. People should never be directly harassed by someone then protected under law.


    Those who wish to exercise their opinions should be allowed to do so via their own limited medium. Websites, Newspapers, Group Meetings … These are places where they should be protected by law to exercise their beliefs, no matter how heinous they may seem to you.

    This carries over to protect people who wish to publish things … Books, Movies, Music, Games, etc. There should be no-one who can say “No. You can not publish that”.

    Those decisions should lie with the Publishers themsevels, the Retailers who stock the product and the customer who has the biggest saying power of all.

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