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.