Pachter Surprised, Disappointed by Target's Decision to Remove Manhunt 2

November 6, 2007 -
When we asked Wedbush-Morgan analyst Michael Pachter (left) about the financial impact of the Manhunt 2 flap, he initially referred us to Penny Arcade's comic take on the issue.

Then he got serious:
All kidding aside, I think that the game will have limited appeal (the horror genre has not been huge outside of the Resident Evil games), and given that it's not offered in Europe yet, it's unlikely that it will be a big moneymaker. 

Mike, what about the bad press? Does that help or hurt in the long run?
The publicity probably will hurt more than help, but we'll never really know.

What of Target's decision to remove the game from retail shelves?
I'm surprised at Target's reaction.  The game being removed from Target's shelves is no more violent than any other M-rated game.  The typical Target customer probably doesn't have a UMD hacker kit, and the risk of any backlash to Target is remote. 

It's impossible to tell what other stores will do, but I remember that when GTA 3 was released (around the time of the Washington, D.C. sniper), some Wal-Marts in the mid-Atlantic refused to carry the game because there was a sniper rifle as one of the weapons.  That lasted till the game became a best seller (probably three weeks), and the store chain suddenly lost its "conscience". 
I don't think individual retail chains should play censor.  The ESRB is charged with rating games, and the retailers should not superimpose their judgment based upon media reports.  It's hard for me to conceive of the possibility that the decisionmaker at Target actually played the game.  They should have a policy about what to carry and stick with it--either carry M-rated games or don't, but don't make exceptions because of media coverage.


Methinks Target's just using the issue as an excuse to not stock up Manhunt 2 due to crappy sales.

If Manhunt 2 sold like hotcakes, Target would keep it on the shelf.

In other words, it's all about money, not backslash.

"Everyone knows the game has a negative conotation, due to the level of media coverage the game has received, and the store doesn’t wish to be associated with negative things. It’s common sense and I’d embarrassed for this guy’s lack of it."

So what you are saying is people should submit to fearmongering and react with knee jerk reactions?

Acutally I have a serious question for Jack (does not happen often and will not be answered but what the hell)

Who exactly makes up the members of "Your Side"?

You have managed to irk off, annoy and alienate virtually every ally you have had to date. You have gone from "Winning" in Alabama to bring a lawsuit against them them and irked off your own Bar that gave your license to practice Law (if such is what you do). Those that do not have general feelings of disgust and annoyance for you tend to ignore you or have not heard of your feeble existance. You are self-serving, greedy and rude. On a hell bent crusade to stamp out the "evil games and their makers" (as you see them anyways). So I ask again who forms Your Side?

I did predict (ok I admit it was a sucker bet) that you would claim to be responsible for Target pulling MH2. Yet, (and this was odd knowing you) there was never mention of a filing by you to that effect. Doubt it would be worth the effort of trying to contact someone at Target with authority and verify your claim though. Oh and if anyone has knowledge of making love to themselves (aka screwing themselves) you would be the one.

On subject. Mr Pachter is often out of the loop. Not sure who the almighty wise ones were that made him a spokesman. Still most gamers that have heard of this guy just ignore him anyways. No harm. No harm in Target pulling the title either. Just that many people no longer shopping there. Their decision. It is not censorship as it does not effect the many other places the title is still available. And face it, Target sucks for games.


If Target doesn’t want to carry Manhunt 2, then that is the business of the company, its executives and stakeholders. It in no way causes them to be a “censor.”

See our discussion earlier on how it's actually "self-censorship" because they are clearly doing it in response to a perceived potential public backlash rather than through any policy or economic decision. If it was based on the other two, it either wouldn't have been carried on shelves in the first place, or would have merely been a "while supplies last" kind of situation. Instead they chose to latch onto what was some marketers dream of "cashing in", and then the controversy proved too much for them...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Hmm, you know what they say about joining in the bandwagon but in this case I'm jumping in "edit button please!"

@ Pendralisk

"2. Demand-Side Censorship - By denying customers access to a product (supply), the demand for such products also falls. When the demand for a product — lowered only by artifical restrictions (censorship) on supply — falls, game developers no longer have a reason to produce games. The demand, and free market, no longer exists."

I'm not sure where you learned economics, but basic economics tells us that when supply is short demand rises, not falls

I'm not surprised. This should have been done by all retailers when it was learned that it was still banned in the UK and got a fake Mature rating here.

Hooah! Our side is winning, and GDC can go make love to itself in the meantime!

Jack Thompson

Wow, what a weirdo. A retailers' decision to exercise its right not to sell a game makes it a "censor?" That's the funniest thing I've heard in a very long time.

Jack Thompson

My God, Thompson, your worse than a spoiled 5 year old. "Make love to itself"?

Grow up will you!

Jack is right, it's not censorship when a business decides what they sell on their own property.

And what is Patcher talking about? GTA III didn't come out at the same time as the DC sniper attack. It had been out for a year already, and sales had already peaked.

How does this guy keep his job as an analyst? He rarely knows what he's talking about. His rate of correct predictions are even rarer.

Hehe. This one of the RARE moments that gamers and JT agree that someone doesn't fully know what he's talking about.

In this case, an industry analyst.

You know, If manhunt was a game worth playing, the shock value and violence wouldn't be a big deal to me. Enough of that on the evening news these days. But fact is, manhunt 2 was not fun to play, even when compared to Manhunt 1.

Personaly, I've played dozens of games recently, ranging from a Boxing game on the wii to the new Naruto on the 360. Somewhere in there, I played manhunt 2 for a bit, got to about midway through the game, and got tired of it, Put it away, and went back to playing my copy of Naruto, which, while not a bloody, gory, or disturbing, was a lot more fun to play and alot more interesting to look at.

Target can pull the game, it's there choice. The game itself feels rushed, feels poorly desgined, feels like it's trying to win on controversy alone.

That won't cut it. I want a game thats fun to play and nice to look at, not a clunky, poorly designed game that feels like a pile of ass graphic and crap controls wrapped in a massively violent wrapper.

Rockstar, stick to making big, expansive, open world games. It's what you seem to be best at.

UK =/= US. End of story. There's no reason to compare the two societies, since we're governed by different bodies. Now pick a plausible argument, please.

Fake Mature Rating...right. Then all of those static-y pictures your kids can watch on channel 99 that barely (but still, you know it's there!) display pornography are being shown on public televisions. Why not sue the cable company with that leap of faith in logic, Jack?

Censor: To remove erroneous, vulgar, obscene, or otherwise objectionable material from a medium (such as the web) before publication. - In this case, the medium is the tangible market. Sounds like they're doing some censoring. Granted, they aren't removing a portion of the actual game, but they are removing it from public distribution (their shelves).

And since your "side" just contains talking heads without an ounce of brainpower behind them, I'm not going to be worried.

Remember Jack, you have two legs. One of these days, you're going to have to figure out a way to stand on at least one of them.

I do understand that it's the retailer's right to not sell a game, but it's essentially the same practice. Censor might not be the correct word, but it's close enough.

One thing to remember: the right of someone to distribute what they choose on their premises is a mode of expression that needs to be protected in much the same way that the right of game developers to create the game that they choose does. The fake Jack Thompson's above are right about that.

@ Tom

That is the real Jack Thompson.

He is always coming on starting at this time of morning and that is that exact way he writes.

I understand what he is talking about. He is not referring to "censor" in the formal sense, but in the sense that Target has unfairly targeted Manhunt 2. Manhunt 2 has an M rating. As far as I know Target has never refused to stock any other M rated game. So that is unfair.

They do need to make and keep a strict policy on games they stock. None of this "Oh, according to the media this game will kill us all." crap they got going on.

It wasn't a fake mature rating, Jack. Stop living in denial.

Fake mature rating? Ohohoho, how funny.

The AO rated stuff (castration, shovels taking peoples heads off) was taking out, GET THAT INTO YOUR THICK SKULL.

Don't get sensitive because you weren't invited to a debate. You have all the debate you could possibly want here.

I agree with the analyst that it's unfortunate, but it's a right of the company to sell what it wishes. Even if it's M rated games to children (policy vs. law).


@ video game time:
Really? It seemed to me more like a kid doing a bad job of imitating Jack Thompson.

@ E. Zachary Knight
The thing of it, though, is that unfair or not they are well within their rights to not sell any particular product for any reason and to suggest otherwise makes us seem hypocritical.

Do I, personally, agree with their decision? No, I think that it's short-sighted and based on false information and media fear-mongering. It smacks of immature management that is trying to appease the soccer mom segment of their customer base with no regard given to anyone else. I'm already sick and tired of living in a "kids' gloves" world and this decision by a group of cowardly buffoons only makes that worse.

That said, they still have the right to choose what they sell. Hell, Wal-Mart has been doing shit like this for years using as their "moral compass" the far-right evangelical beliefs of their founders (apparently it's OK to pay your employees the bare minimum, hurt your local economies by importing goods from overseas, aid in poisoning children by demanding the lowest prices and therefore getting products that wouldn't pass even the most cursory health inspections, lock employees in your stores overnight and make it company policy to put employees on government health care so the tax payer takes on that burden while you reap the benefits but it's wrong - WRONG! - to sell a game that shows a boobie) and subsequently refusing to sell media with content they disagree with. It's one of the main reasons that I won't shop at Wal-Mart - that and being in their stores for more then two minutes makes me physically ill for some reason.

No, Jack. You are not "winning." Never have been. But I guess since you've failed at everything else, you take whatever percieved "victories" you can get.

It's funny, you blame retailers for not doing their job, yet here is a clear cut case of them doing it. But rather than just simply be satisfied, you have to jump around and rub our faces in it, and somehow accredit that decision to you when you and your "side" (you have no allies except the little voice in your head you think is God) really had nothing to do with it.

Your an obnoxious, hateful and sad little man and a Christian nutjob. Your disbarment can't come soon enough. You can go whining how you're being persecuted all your like, but the truth of th matter is you use it as a justifcation to be a complete asshole. And again, it's people like you that made me turn away from the "Lord" and go in the other direction.

@Black Manta

- Yeah, they can do this, but a better idea of what their job is is to enforce the ratings. If they only sell it to 17+, then there's no problem. At all. No banning of sales are required, and they can still make a profit off of the units they do sell.


Michael Hackter being misinformed about the industry he makes a living commenting on? Noooooooooo! :)


got a fake Mature rating here

Gee Jack, then why whine that stores aren't enforcing ratings that are meaningless? Either they have meaning, and should be enforced, or don't, and can't be. Make up your mind!

On the other side, while I think Target is a bunch of wussies who cringe the first time some lawyer who failed Contract Law class yells 'boo', they are within their right to back down and cry in the corner, all while pretending their doing "the right thing". Of course it might have been more impressive had they not first put it on their shelves, and then balked at the dismal sales. Way to spin the PR guys...

jack thompson, attorney Says:

"Hooah! Our side is winning, and GDC can go make love to itself in the meantime!"

Aside from your immature remarks regarding incest, considering you only base this insult on the fact a bunch of gamers, games journalists and developers happen to meet in an area at certain times throughout the year e.g. the GDC, this is incredibly ironic when Christians such as yourself meet in churches throughout the world every Sunday, and often on other days as well. Judging by your standards, all Christians are even more incestuous than gamers.

QED bitch.

Also, 'your side' is winning? Guess what Jack? Manhunt 2 is out, it is selling probably ten times better than it would without all the controversy and Rockstar and T2 have a whole library of upcoming games that you will not be able to stop, including GTA4, which will probably be one of the greatest selling games in recent years.

And in regards to 'your side', the only people on 'your side' are you and a couple of parents with a chip on their shoulders. Meanwhile, we, the real people who live in the real world and not one of fantasy lawsuits and hypocrisy, the world you live in, build up a multitude of today's youth and young adult workforce. We're even starting to get politicians on our side who recognise the artistic importance of games and as such grant them tax breaks and encourage parents to use the ESRB. You, on the other hand, have out-of-touch morons such as Leland Yee and Hilary Clinton, by-products of an age gone by where beating your wife was morally acceptable and when black people couldn't vote.

You have lost Jack. Video games are not the evil future that must be stopped that you consistently claim. Video games are very much the present and one of the defining art forms of the late 20th century and this century. Meanwhile, you have delusions of grandeur and while you are inserting gay porn into court documents and making offensive, racist remarks, we'll still be here, playing our video games.

"Wow, what a weirdo. A retailers’ decision to exercise its right not to sell a game makes it a “censor?” That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a very long time."

Jack, you have not played the game. Neither has any of the pressure groups who bitch about this game. And, I'd hazard it, any of the people who would make the decision to not stock the game at their stores. Therefore, kindly do your research and go shut the fuck up.


And what is Patcher talking about? GTA III didn’t come out at the same time as the DC sniper attack. It had been out for a year already, and sales had already peaked.

Maybe he meant GTA3: Vice City? It came out in Oct 2002, the same time as the Beltway attacks.

Since Jack never seems to respond to posts that are more than 50 words long, I'll cut the crap and say that if it wasn't for him, this game would probably not have sold even twice as well.

Oh, and yes, Target is indeed "censoring" Manhunt 2. But it is their right as a private entity. Only effective within their own stores, granted, but within those stores, it is censored. Mass media can censor, why not a national retail chain?

Too bad that had become such a charged word.

def: The act of hiding, removing, altering or destroying copies of art or writing so that general public access to it is partially or completely limited.

@ Tom

Yeah, they are within their rights. But the inconsistancy is really annoying. I nver planned to buy the game, but I would hate to see this happen to a game I created that received so much controversy.

But I also don't buy games from Target, so I guess I am twice as lucky.

@ las

I’ll cut the crap and say that if it wasn’t for him, this game would probably not have sold even half as well.

Fixed that for you. :D


This edition goes out to the Boston Punks, Mike McColgan, and Shane MacGowan.

1.I’m not surprised. This should have been done by all retailers when it was learned that it was still banned in the UK and got a fake Mature rating here.

You know what else we should do? Adopt the UK's system of government. Because they're so much more free than us right? Seriously, Lawyers were made to safe-guard the rights of the people, not to censor things when it connects with their agenda. I notice that JackAss Thompson isn't complaining about Soldier Of Fortune coming out here, or about the last two for that matter.

2.Hooah! Our side is winning, and GDC can go make love to itself in the meantime!

This is jack-speak for 'go fuck yourself GDC!'. Also, stop saying 'hooah'. Its an insult to those who fight and have fought, and you have no right to say it.

3.Wow, what a weirdo. A retailers’ decision to exercise its right not to sell a game makes it a “censor?” That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a very long time.

So Jack, if I use my considerable pull over my local bookstores (which get about 4000USD a month total from me) and tell them not to stock or sell, via online orders, a book (or in my example, your books) you wouldn't scream "STOP CENSORING ME" so loud that I'd get a concussion?

Double Standards Jack. It's the stuff you live off of, but to me it's like a cancer.

And before anyone flies off the handle and says I don't take Cancer seriously, my father's side of the family is being decimated by it. Go have a bleeding heart somewhere else.

Yesterday, Jack erroneously thought the GDC was inviting him to speak at their next shindig and thought they were a great organization. The truth comes out and Jack starts acting like a 5-year-old who didn't get his chocolate milk.

Jack, THIS is why you're going to be disbarred. You realize that, right?

What was it I said the other day? Something along the lines of, "Acting charming for a few hours does not disproved you acted like an asshat at other times."

Your real colors are showing again, Jack. Welcome back to reality.

Jack isn't right, if you would normally distribute something but refuse to do so based on its content being viewed as "inappropriate" that's still censorship, just in this case it happens to be perfectly legal. No one here is arguing that Target doesn't have a right to not sell the game, just that they shouldn't exercise that right and that by doing so they are practicing censorship. Also he said that GTA 3 came out around the same time, not at the same time, which is true, and his point was simply that several Wal-Marts temporarily didn't carry the game as there was controversy surrounding the inclusion of a sniper rifle based on the DC snipers. Which is also true. And that after it became apparent that GTA 3 was a moneymaker they began to carry the game again, which is also true.

@black manta

thompson is no christian. im convinced thats just a front to make himself more appealing to the politicians he tries to recruit for his little crusade he has going on. im not a very religious person myself but i know manipulation of a religion for personal benefits when i see it.

@Jack Thompson - Austin Lewis just pwned your ass. Care to comment, or are you too much of a coward? Silence implies cowardice.

You have half an hour to reply to this demand... or else!
(yes, I'm imitating JT here with an empty threat of my own!)

I hate retail censorship, especially when they don't have the spine/balls/other anatomical metaphor to stick with their principles. If your going to do it, do it right, from the start and stick by it.

I’m surprised at Target’s reaction. The game being removed from Target’s shelves is no more violent than any other M-rated game. The typical Target customer probably doesn’t have a UMD hacker kit, and the risk of any backlash to Target is remote.

I haven't even taken the time to check into Manhunt 2.. but I'd BET that Target has a copy of 'Hostel' on it's shelves and I bet 'Saw' too. Is Manhunt more violent than those movies?

OK. Target does have a right to stock or refuse to stock whatever they want. But no matter what they say, this is still wrong. Manhunt 2 maybe a terrible game (in more ways than one), but Target can't just use that as a reason to refuse to stock it. Its a double-standard. If they are going to refuse to stock it, they should refuse to stock more, even all, M rated games as company policy. For that matter, they should refuse to stock many violent movies, like the Saw series. I expect this from Wal-Mart (refuses to sell unedited CDs, but sells alcohol and cigarettes), but I thought Target was a little better than that.

@ Overcast

Manhunt is no more violent than Saw or Hostel. It is just more controversial. That is all there is to it.


that article mentions walmart refused GTA III because of the sniper rifle, which is funny, the walmart in my town and several others ive been to sell paintball guns, air guns/rifles, bb guns, and toy guns (which are all marketed to kids for the most part). i find it really hypocritical for walmart to not sell something that has a virtual gun in it while they stock real guns that you can actually hurt people with.

Hey Jacky-boy, stop lying about the GDC. The man you say invited you came in and cleared things up himself - you're lying again.

@ Gameboy

Walmart also sells movies in their unrated form.

As an example, the unrated version of the Hills Have Eyes has extended gruesome scenes including a family man pictured in graphic detail his flesh burning and other scenes that are more graphic than Manhunt 2.

Guess what, Walmart sells The Hills Have Eyes along with the uncut Saw movies and yet they would not allow an AO rated Manhunt 2.

While saying that Manhunt 2 is on the same level as Saw or Hostel is probably accurate, saying that it's "just as violent" as any other M-rated game is just a flat-out lie. In the industry today, there are "look into it, but it's probably alright" M-rated games, and there are "holy SHIT, keep this the hell away" M-rated games. The problem is that while the content descriptors can give you an idea of what's in the game, there's no possible way it can prepare you for what's actually in the title. Whether there needs to be a rating between T and M or another between M and AO is up for debate, but it just doesn't help our case when the M rating has been applied to relatively harmless titles like Dead or Alive 4 or the Family Guy game and then people see it stamped on stuff like this. Movies may have the same problem, grouping the Saw movies and the Matrix movies in the same rating. However, just because we share the problem, doesn't mean they have to be the first to fix the problem simply because their form of media has "seniority" over ours. A pro-active stance on this issue is the only thing that's going to help us by this point.

Jack, I want to see you moving on beyond video games and pushing forth regulations on the movie industry for allowing its theaters for letting in minors to see R rated films, and its video stores for selling them to minors. Also, go for music as well. Some record labels are allowing a lot of smutty lyrics and videos to go through. I'm sure that eventually you'd want to expand your presence in doing what's best for the media.


"After an initial foray into politics, Thompson concentrated his legal efforts against perceived obscenity, particularly in rap music and broadcasts by radio personality Howard Stern."

thats off a wiki article, no movie attacks really, but it shows he has gone after things other than games before. games just get him the most attention for some reason. i might add he doesnt seem to like janet reno either.

Jack, what is up with you saying that you don't want to ban those games, yet in your very first post in here, you are actually again for an active ban FOR EVERYONE, not just children. Wanting no retailer to sell the game, is the same as wanting to ban the games you don't like. Yes, you are truly in favor of the First Amendment, cough. Stop being a hypocrite. You want to either protect the children or downright ban the games for everyone. From all of your posts, it is more than apparent you want the latter. So stop telling us you only want to protect the children, when you want to take the games away from all of us.

It would seem as though the end game for Jack is still shifting between "ban games from everyone" and "ban games from children". He credibility died when he couldn't make this decision years ago and it seems funny that he still has not made up his mind.

The end game here, Jack? If all video games are banned, do you honestly believe there would no longer be any violence? Of all the variables that affect a violent person's behavior from factors that existed even before birth, you can't possibly believe that video games have even a cursory affect.

"That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a very long time."


Huh. Is that so?
You should listen to yourself some time.

Also just because the UK "banned" a game, doesn't mean America should do the same. Maybe America should just look at the Netherlands instead where the government even stated that they shouldn't downright ban games, only because they don't like the content. And since the UK and the Netherlands both make use of the PEGI system, there is no reason to only look at the UK, just because it suits your agenda. Yes, I know the UK doesn't always follow the PEGI system to the letter and that is why they have the BBFC. But the PEGI is the equivalent of the American ESRB, and both didn't ban the game and shouldn't. One would think that a true American wouldn't be in favor of bans.

There is no reason to censor games when not doing the same thing with all other types of media. You either censor them all, or you censor none. You can't censor just one type of media when there is zero proof that they cause violence. You, JT, have even admitted yourself that it could possibly only be a very small percentage that may act out based on videogames alone (which I find very unlikely and with me most researchers). It is never proof that someone did something only because they have owned or own games, since the bigger part of today's society plays games or has someone in their household who plays games. You might as well blame milk or cola or whatever thing you find in most houses. I am pretty sure you know all of this, but you don't care. You can put up a "friendly" face when necessary, but you aren't fooling me. You are nothing more but a two-faced snake.

@Chris Wallace

Of all the variables that affect a violent person’s behavior from factors that existed even before birth, you can’t possibly believe that video games have even a cursory affect.

Cue misquoted Secret Service and FBI report on Columbine... ;)

Those are the ones JT loves to pull out to "prove" that even the authorities know that games are THE influencing factor in school shootings, even though both services found that games were the LEAST influential media when it came to school shooters. Half as influential as movies, for example. Yet JT has only sued the makers of Basketball Diaries once, he doesn't have a vendetta against Island Picture or New Line Cinema, even though NLC has made many other violent films, and films marketed to teens that contain lots of sexual content (under that totally fako R rating).

@Jeff M.

Whether there needs to be a rating between T and M or another between M and AO is up for debate, but it just doesn’t help our case when the M rating has been applied to relatively harmless titles like Dead or Alive 4 or the Family Guy game and then people see it stamped on stuff like this.

Well, the main problem is that both the "hmmm, mature content", and "holy crap, MATURE CONTENT!!!" get the same rating, because everyone is scared to use the AO rating because of the self-censorship the industry has put itself under. I think if the US companies weren't so stuck up that it was willing to use the AO rating, then the "OMFG" games could be easily differentiated from the "meh, more mature than T I guess..." games.

The main problem is that M and AO are one year apart. 17 & 18. In other countries, "teen" and "adult" material is 3-4 years apart. UK it's 15 and 18, Canada it varies by region, but usually 14 & 18. Etc.
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