GameTrailers Editors Go OFF on ESRB over Fallout 3 Trailer Removal

In unusually strong language, the editorial staff of video site has condemned the ESRB for forcing the removal of Fallout 3 trailers last week.

The comments were made in a podcast released Friday. GameTrailers editor-in-chief Shane Satterfield (left) and staffer "Grumpy" ripped the ESRB which, in addition to rating game content, enforces the industry’s advertising standards.

The segment on the ESRB starts just after the 26-minute mark of the podcast. Here’s a sample:

Shane: You may wonder why all the trailers ever released for Fallout 3 were removed from Well the reason that happened is because of our good pals at the ESRB.

Grumpy: Wankers! …I am just absolutely flabbergasted about the ESRB. They’re a bunch of bleepwads sitting in Washington.

Shane: Hear, hear!

Grumpy: …they get publishers to pull video footage. They assisted in getting the Fallout 3 ads taken out of Washington because some dumb bleepwit… on a bus got upset that they were showing images of decimated Washington…

Shane: Never watched a movie before!

Grumpy: Exactly. It’s a futuristic, post-apocalyptic game. I am so sick of this nanny state… they are not a government organization. They are a body made up of unqualified nincompoops… unfortunately, they’re taking the nanny state to the nth degree… They make the FCC look like a bunch of broad-minded, non-censorship individuals… It sucks that Bethesda had to pull all this Fallout 3 stuff, because it was bleeping good media…

Shane: All age-gated…

Grumpy: …nobody could get at it. But because some little toe-rag at ESRB decides to get pissed off about something, all that good work is gone… Good job, Bethesda. It sucks that they have to kowtow to the ESRB…

Shane: I hate the ESRB… The week before that we had gotten an exclusive on a trailer suddenly we get a call… and the publisher is telling us to take it down because of the ESRB... The ESRB can only regulate media that the publishers send us. Anything that we create in-house, as GameTrailers, they can’t touch… we’ll make our own violent-as-hell trailer that they can’t do anything about. So we did. We put it up, it was huge… then we get a call from publisher X [who said] "…the ESRB is putting pressure on us and so that bleep is going to run downhill to where we can’t work with you guys unless you do what the ESRB says" …they are like the frickin’ Mafia… These people have totally gone like a frickin’ power trip...

GP: Thanks to GP reader Yukimura for the tip.

UPDATE: The ESRB has declined to comment on this story.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. SliderNL says:

    People have a strange perception of Europe. Because the UK and German-rating systems and authorities are even more stupid/narrowminded than the ESBR doesn’t mean it works that way in the rest of Europe.

    Actually the PEGI-system which is used in most of Europe is more flexible. I think it’s nuts to pull all the content, because there is an complaint. You have to look at the complaint ratio. How many people watched those movies, and how many complained about it? I have one rule you should never take action only because a vocal minority is not pleased. It should always be backed up by statistics or other evidence which is not the case here.

    About Politics: If you think the problems we create are bad, wait till you see our solutions.

  2. Arell says:

    In addition to Manhunt 2 being banned in the UK for nearly a year before they changed their minds (I think the devs released a less gorey version), it’s STILL banned in Ireland.  Additionally, Greece banned all video games a few years ago, then backed off so that they were illegal in public Internet Cafes.  The law is currently suspended for being too heavy-handed and against certain EU guidelines, but several politicians in Greece are waiting for the dust to settle to try a smaller form of cencorship (they’re mostly after online gambling, but they also believe the hype that video games make murderers and terrorists out of teens).

    And even after the Bryan Report pretty much told the UK that video games don’t turn children into raving lunatics, they’re still holding meetings in Parlament to see if they have any right to attempt to ban the Suicide Bomber game (or even if they have the power to try, since it’s an online download on servers in other countries).  I mean, at best they should only be able to issue a statement that the game is in bad taste (which would give the game free advertising, so I personally think they should ignore it).  But they’re actually wasting tax money to try and take some sort of action against it.

    This is why we don’t want to get rid of the ESRB, or inhibit their function.  If you create a void, the government will step in and fill it.  Then government will tell developers what is acceptable content for a game for a particular age group (to start, they’ll eventually tell them what they can and cannot create, period).  And more relevant to this topic, the government would set game trailer and advertising guidelines, which would assuredly be more strict and draconian than the ESRB’s.

  3. Volomon says:

        What about Manhunt 2 in the UK?  They might not get banned but they get editted someimtes.  I also have a hard time believeing more than German doesn’t ban games considing the amount of ads they ban.  Hell they banned an ad where people where shooting each other with their fingers!

  4. Volomon says:

       I seriously have no idea what’s going on here nobody and I mean nobody regulates the internet.  Especially if it’s free content.  Meaning that they would have to pay Gametrailers to put those videos up in order to regulate them in any way.  With that said if Gametrailers has their shit in a pinch put them up for free.

  5. DeepThorn says:

    As long as the ads are online only, the parents should be watching after their kids enough to know what they are seeing, and be able to talk with them about things like this, but parents dont want to parent their kids anymore.  We almost should require testing before people have kids, then if they fail the test, they can not reproduce and are hendered from passing on stupid genes or pass their bad parenting skills down further because of how they raise their kids…  actually lack there of.

    Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
    Financial Calculator for anyone interested in seeing the basic run

  6. Karsten Aaen says:

    Like others here, I don’t see why the publisher of FO3 would be upset about the trailers for FO3 on – everyone of these FO3 trailers I have seen has been age gated. And it isn’t like there isn’t videofootage out there – Youtube have players recording their gameplay etc. etc. and so on and so far. Yes, even the videos where people’s heads get blown of you can see there (on youtube). To me, publishers need to defend their product, the game, not roll over and do whatever the Master say (Fallout pun intended).

    As for Europe, the only country that bans games are – Germany. And they haven’t banned a game in a long time.
    Or to make it more clearer: Germany has not refused to rate a game for a very long time..although I think they mkight do it for one of the newer games? Australia does not have an 18+ rating so that’s why they Refuse Classification of some games.




  7. Doomsong says:

    So I take it that the ESRB gets all their methods straight from the Tipper Gore handbook of being a complete douche?

    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" – Benjamin Franklin

  8. Bigman-K says:

    Yes, but at least the MPAA will allow for Restricted trailers to be shown like the one for Rambo that was put all over the internet before it came out. I don’t think the ESRB allows that but that is probably because that government is hammering down so much on games and game makers.

    God, i hate the nanny-state. When it comes to Free Speech media the government needs to get the hell out of our lives and leave it the sole responsibility of parents to make sure their children aren’t viewing media they find unsuitable or inappropriate for them. The First Amendment was put there for a reason. State censoring and restricting of the dissemination of ideas and information even when it comes to minors (especially older minors and teengers) is dangerous.


    "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  9. DeepThorn says:

    Point taken…  How many of those ads were somewhere where kids would see it in public though?  If they were just on the internet, why not just the typical, for ages 18 and up only.  If you are 18 click here, if not, click here.

    Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
    Financial Calculator for anyone interested in seeing the basic run

  10. Arell says:

    Exactly.  You don’t see people getting decapitated or ripped open or disembowled in a movie trailer.  But there are a lot of horror movies that show just that.  The same is supposed to be true to games.  The gore exists, but the general public isn’t subjected to it in ads, only if they choose to buy the game.

    I have NO IDEA why some of you keep bringing up Independance Day or any other post-apocalyptic movie.  This wasn’t about DC looking blown up in the ads.  This is about a guy having his head explode in slow motion in VATS.

  11. Flamespeak says:

    The ESRB isn’t the bad guy and they never were. The ESRB was set up to keep the government from stepping in and controlling the content of video games that are released. I support the company, they pretty much allow all things into games that developers want, the developer must understand that whatever content is in the game will carry the rating that goes with it. The ESRB doesn’t stop people from making an Adults Only rated game, however, most companies wouldn’t want that rating as it negatively effects the sells of their product.  The ads that got pulled showed graphic violence, however, and the ESRB decided it is best not to show that kind of gore to the public that hasn’t purchased the title. (not talking about the subway poster, which were not pulled the last I heard merely commented negatively upon). It is akin to a movie trailer for saw not actually showing any gore while the movie itself can be full of the stuff.


  12. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    JT managed to get Miami-Dade to pull the GTA4 ads.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  13. beemoh says:

    I don’t know if it’s because I’m in the UK so I’m just not being shown the ESRB ratings, but it seems very very few games on Steam have ESRB ratings- and while there’s a few BBFC ratings on there (GTA series), that’s still in single figures.

    For the reasons you’ve pointed out, ratings boards (or at least, centralised, “official” ones like the ESRB, PEGI, and the BBFC) are outdated, unworkable, and obsolete. It’s time to start looking for a better solution.


  14. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I don’t remember anyone getting ads pulled out of DC subways. All I remember is a guy complaining about them. THere was no follow up on the results of the complaint that I know of.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  15. DeepThorn says:

    Dennis, have you drank with these guys before?  I am wondering if they are angry drunks, haha.

    These guys are awesome.  They are getting shit thrown at them, then they throw right back.  Maybe they should get a group of people to create a different rating board.  There are only so many things you can do with these situations, change it, live with it, or create your own and compete with it.  ESRB seems like a Dicktatorship, so I think change isn’t going to happen.

    Did Independence Day get shit when they showed the white house getting blown up on their posters and in their movie trailers?  I don’t think so, but maybe I am forgetting it.  I tend to forget stupid shit that never should have happened in the first place.

    Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
    Financial Calculator for anyone interested in seeing the basic run

  16. requieminadream says:

    Would a place like be able to sell games that are rated AO, or aren’t rated by the ESRB at all?

    What about a company like Valve, who could simply release a game on Steam and not worry about getting their game rated?

    Or the company Running With Scissors (the Postal series) who publishes all their games themselves? They still get their games rated by the ESRB because they want to sell it in stores, but they are still a very small company.

    The ESRB is becoming less and less relevant as the years go by. As companies like I just mentioned become more prevalent, and digital distribuition becomes the norm, what will they do then?

  17. sqlrob says:

    Thrill kill didn’t.

    San Andreas didn’t (or rather, if it did, then it should’ve stayed that way even after Hot Coffee was removed)


  18. JustChris says:

    I agree, the zero-tolerance threshold for performance is ridiculous. Zero tolerance tells people "you must be perfect"…or using word subtitution…"you must be BETTER THAN HUMAN". That’s pretty quioxtic of the zero-tolerance principle.

  19. beemoh says:

    …and when they do something, the idiots complain because it’s not enough.

    Take, for example, Hot Coffee. This was one fuckup in… eleventy hundred years of flawless ESRB ratings. ONE mistake- and a completely harmless one, at that- and the result was an absolute shitstorm.

    You can see this same issue occur outside of games- nobody can move for health and safety regulations, because people have come to rely on them too much.

    Say there’s a hole in the ground, or an uneven walkway, something you could trip over and hurt yourself on. H&S dictates that these must have cones or barriers around them.

    As a result, people stop watching where they’re going and fall into that one hole in a million that isn’t marked because instead of looking for said hole, they’re looking for barriers.

    You make people look for themselves, and they only have themselves to blame. You do somebody’s job for them, and you’re in for a worse time if you do it wrong.


  20. JustChris says:

    Snuff films have found a way to be profitable. You have to target your niche audience, and producers of those films know that they cannot just expect Wal-Mart to stock them. If you want to make an unrated game so that your "creative" expression is fully explored, prepare to face uphill struggles to fame like all other eccentric artists.

  21. Wolvenmoon says:

    I was being a caustic arse.

    Stores wouldn’t have to stock it, no one would have to license it. I can distribute it on the internet.

    And I’d make sure I was protected under parody laws. =P

  22. Dark Sovereign says:

    Go read the list of games rated as AO. Then try to come back here and tell me, with a straight face, that they didn’t earn it.

  23. Brokenscope says:

    Publishers have a contractual agreement with them due to their usage of the copyrighted ESRB symbols.

    Publishers VOLUNTARILY AGREED to this.

  24. Zen says:

    I agree.  Why can they just pop up, whenever they want, and just demand content pretty much be "censured"?  They were created to help inform people about what is in a particular game, NOT TO TELL THEM AND US WHAT WE CAN SEE OR DO IN IT!  Just as it pisses me off that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have made it impossible to use the AO rating as it should have been, the ESRB is either using it as a tool to stop games until they are censured to their liking.  Heaven forbid those of us adults that want to have adult (read violent and/or adult themed) content on a game system just as we can with many TV shows and God only knows how many movies.  

    Jeremy Powers aka Zen
    Panama City, Fl.

  25. Andrew Eisen says:

    Try reading the rest of my sentence, Strathmeyer.

    "The ESRB has absolutely no leverage over a publisher for video footage created and presented by a third party."


    Andrew Eisen

  26. MrKlorox says:

    No, but when I was 12, it would have been something I would have looked for, had I known it existed. And being the resourceful 12 year old that I was, I would have found it. Adolescence is when gore and girls begin to get appealing. Lowest common denominator, baby!

  27. Arell says:

    First, and unrelated to the article:  Did the subway ads get pulled early?  I never saw that in any of the gamer news sites I read.  I saw that some guy wrote a letter to the editor for a newspaper whining about them.  But I never saw anything about any actions taken against them.  If they’re no longer there, then maybe the ad campaign contract is done?

    Second.  I don’t see the problem with this issue, either.  The ESRB has content standards for advertisements, particularlly those that can be readily accessed by any age group.  The companies agree to this when they sign on to the ESRB.  The people at Bethesda would have (should have) known about those standards.  Thus, if the trailer pulled was an official Bethesda release, they were the ones in the wrong, not the ESRB.

    Now, if it was a third party creation, then that’s an entirely different matter.

    People complain about the ESRB, but they forget that the organization was founded on the idea of self-regulation from within the gaming industry.  There was a time when the government was very likely to step in and start regulating and come up with their own ratings system.  And honestly, that can all still happen.  One of the major barriers to that is the ESRB standing and pointing to an excellent record of self-regulation.  Stores that agree not to sell to minors without ID, for a "voluntary" ratings system.  And ads that don’t freak out (sometimes over-protective) parents.  An ad with a guy’s head getting blown apart isn’t something most people want a 12 year old stumbling across.  The ESRB can’t stop third parties from editing together a clip of that sort of thing, but they can tell the original company to tone it down in their official releases.

    I’m just saying, there are people within our government that would make the US just like Europe or Australia when it comes to games, and start banning games.  Let’s not give them the ammo to pull it off.

  28. strathmeyer says:

    "The ESRB has absolutely no leverage over a publisher"

    Huh? Let us know if you feel leveraged after the ESRB refuses to allow you to release a game you’ve spent millions of dollars making? Or are you confused because you read the First Amendment to the Consititution of the United States and you thought people still followed that thing?

  29. Aliasalpha says:

    I actually have suspicions that the whole ad pulling thing was a cheap publicity stunt. It got a fair amount of attention, the ads had been out for a while before the offending content was "discovered" and the action was taken a few days before the release of the game, that doesn’t smell right to me…

  30. Andrew Eisen says:

    If you want your game to have an ESRB rating, you have to follow the ESRB’s advertising guidelines.  Plain and simple.

    That said, pressuring the publisher over the game footage created by a completely different party is absolutely despicable.

    But did it happen?

    I don’t buy it.  The ESRB has absolutely no leverage over a publisher for video footage created and presented by a third party.  Unless the ESRB mistook the footage for an official ad from the publisher, someone isn’t being completely truthful here.

    The ESRB is in no position to make threats so I don’t buy a publisher was threatened over Gametrailers’ content.

    Is this perhaps a publisher trying to dictate what Gametrailers can and cannot show but trying not to look like a bad guy by blaming the ESRB?  Pretty childish if true.  Doesn’t make much sense either.  A publisher is going to complain about free advertising?  Not likely unless the footage was completely misrepresentative of the game or painted the publisher in a bad light.

    Something’s not adding up here.


    Andrew Eisen

  31. strathmeyer says:

    Yeah, I’ve also heard that movie directors love it when their movies are censored because it allowed them to release a "Directors Cut" DVD.

    In other words, no.

  32. Wolvenmoon says:

    They shouldn’t have 24 ads in the washington DC subway either.

    It’d be like whipping out a water pistol on a buncha vietnam vetrans, it gets a reaction, some might find it funny, but it’s REALLY not the right thing to do.

    If this were in the UK where the subway bombings occured, it would have freaked people out.

    The issue isn’t the ads are too graphic, but they’re at a place that reminds people that they’re incredibly vulnerable.

    It’d be like putting ads for the new bully game in virginia tech.

  33. NovaBlack says:

    i hate that a guy got fallout3 ads pulled from the subway


    I mean.. what did they ban any advertisements for ’24’ too? i mean that is about CTU, counter TERRORIST unit, and every single season focuses on bombs/biological attacks etc on well known cities. But wait.. thats a tv series, and even though that looks more realistic (since its real people / props etc) then somehow its magically different.

  34. Wolvenmoon says:

    The ESRB as a beauracracy is unneeded. The ESRB’s original function is sure as heck needed. They need to extend violence ratings beyond M, and be more sensitive about how they rate a game.

    For example! Oblivion should have been rated M originally for the extreme states of decay of the corpses and heads thrust upon pikes, the huge amount of blood found in the oblivion towers, and that one wierd shop owner in skingrad. You know the one I’m talking about.

    But from how it went down it’s obvious these people didn’t play the game or even open up the content creator, much less look at the trailer for it (which has a zombie attacking you).

    They’re much like jack thompson. They SHOULD perform a needed service (blowing the whistle when games cross into a level of violence that shouldn’t be in our entertainment venues), but instead they advertise the games they’re the hardest on.

  35. Bigman-K says:

    I totally agree. But at the very least i think games should have some sort of content based lable placed on them to warn people and parents of young children of the content. Maybe something along the lines of:

     "The following game contains extreme violence and gore, strong course language, sexual content and drug use. Player’s discression is advised."

    and that’s it. No arbitrary age-based rating system, just the warning about the content in the game and nothing else.


    "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  36. Spartan says:

    I have to agree with the comments. The ESRB is not needed. Parents should do the parenting not the companies or more importantly the government.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  37. Bigman-K says:

    I think it was more that they were forced to. The government has come down so hard on video games, threatinging them with regulation and passing pro-censorship anti-gaming laws that they had to make their voluntary regulations super strict to try and stop it even though it hasn’t. It’s the nanny-state and overt government regulation threats that is the main problem here. Politicans don’t give a shit about Freedom of Speech only pandering to moralist prudes and "protect the children" assholes.


    "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  38. Azhrarn says:

    While that is true, I doubt they intended for their voluntary regulatory institution to turn into something that actively censors their products!

  39. Azhrarn says:

    Not really voluntary, since it’s a choice between being able to publish your games or not publishing them.
    They may not like the contractual obligations set by the ESRB, but they are FORCED to accept them because without those ratings they might aswell not publish the games at all in the US. (personally i’d love to see a big publisher do this, but they won’t. Their stockholders would complain and they’d cave pretty quickly in the name of bigger profits)

  40. Michael Chandra says:

    Eh, a rating system is a good idea, but why on earth CENSOR people?! If the advertizement fit the rating as well, don’t go cry about it when people don’t like it. Seriously, what’s wrong with a wasted Washington? Didn’t they see INDEPENDANCE DAY?! The Day After Tomorrow? Read Tom Clancy?

  41. Brokenscope says:

    Yes, but it is what they have to do so they can say they are doing something.

    If they didn’t do something, they would have nothing to appease idiots with when idiots get upset. We all know how idiots are when they get upset.

  42. Aliasalpha says:

    age gating is working in a WAY if you consider it as an informational thing rather than a security thing. Claiming it’s a security thing and relying on that to do the job, however, is like leaving a bank vault open and putting up a sign saying "please don’t take any money"

  43. Andrew Eisen says:

    Oh, and age-gating is stupid.

    Honestly, is there anyone out there that thinks an age-gate actually keeps under-agers from seeing mature content?  Is there a kid on the face of the Earth who is going to pull up a trailer for a horror game, see the age-gate and say, "Gee, guess I’ll have to watch something else."?

    Give me a break.  Hell, I’m plenty old enough but I don’t bother to put my real birthday in.  I just open the year pull-down menu and give the mouse wheel a spin.  I usually end up in the 1920s somewhere.

    Age-gates are stupid and serve only as a frustration to people old enough to watch the video in the first place.


    Andrew Eisen

  44. Brokenscope says:

    Well, good luck with that.

    Most stores won’t stock it.

    None of the big 3 will liscense it.

    And if you use ESRB assets, expect them to take you to court over it.


  45. Wolvenmoon says:

    I’m gonna make a game of a pair of breasts with a chainsaw cutting someone open, feeding them their own intestines, blowing up the statue of liberty with their explosive stuffed liver, then flashing someone and making their head explode.

    Gonna sell it rated as "B", for boobs.

Comments are closed.