PC Version of Manhunt 2 May Carry an AO Rating, But How Will It Get Sold?

As noted by Joystiq, the ESRB is currently listing the upcoming PC version of Manhunt 2 with an Adults Only (AO) rating.

GamePolitics readers will likely recall that the console versions of Manhunt 2 generated a major controversy in the summer of 2007 when the game was banned in Britain and tagged with an AO here in the States. Rockstar subsequently released a toned-down version that earned an M (17+) rating for the U.S. market.

That was a critical milestone, because the Big Three console makers won’t license AO-rated games for their systems, which makes it tough for a publisher to earn a return on its investment. That’s why you don’t see any AO-rated console games. While the open architecture of the PC negates licensing concerns, an AO-rated Manhunt 2 would still get thumbs-down from major retailers like GameStop and Wal-Mart.

That means that Rockstar is either planning a digital distribution campaign for Manhunt 2 or that it will edit the PC version – as it did with the console editions – to earn an M from the ESRB. Of course, there is a third scenario: Rockstar could ship an M-rated version to retailers while distributing an AO-rated version online.

We wonder how Valve might react to handling an AO game if its Steam service, which currently distributes Rockstar’s GTA IV online, is under consideration as a potential digital distribution source for Manhunt 2.

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  1. black manta says:

    I don’t see how Rockstar could not pass up the opportunity to sell an AO copy of this game on PC, be it digitial distribution or otherwise.  By selling the PC version as AO, they can tout it as "The version the consoles wouldn’t let you play!" and add to that ever-popular forbidden fruit allure.  Even if Gamestop or Wal-Mart won’t sell it, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be available someplace else like, oh, say Amazon (Rapelay anyone?)  Or they could sell it directly themselves from their website, bypassing the reatailers entirely (even though that would further JT’s argument that the game developers really are selling their games directly to kids).

  2. Father Time says:

    I hope they do put the Ao on some digitla distribution services, maybe if it makes enough cash one of the big three will allow Ao games on their consoles.

    Our best bet is Sony or Microsoft that way there may be Ao games on Live Arcade or PSN and then that might make some retailers take notice, and if not well it’s still better than none at all.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  3. MrKlorox says:

    I know my local Hastings was selling the AO verison of Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude a few years back. Not sure if they would still sell an AO game since I haven’t actually seen any in a long time.

  4. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ummmm would be be so hard to print out normnal boxes but at less volume sale them for 45$ a shot to anyone who cares to sell it then hit up stardock,steam and D2D to sale the rest of them.

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  5. Ashkihyena says:

    It’s stupid, but thats what politicans are, stupid, and quite frankly, I don’t see the difference either, but that dreaded AO rating is a game murderer, not a murder simulator, but a game murderer.

  6. Doom90885 says:

    I still don’t see all the uproar over an AO rating and an M rating. Its a difference of 1 friggin year. Why not just merge the 2 ratings together at 18 yo old and call it a day. I’m definately against the idea of consoles not supporting AO games. To me that’s not their decision to make. The decision of what to play is up to the consumer, not the manufacturer. Its the equivalent a comapny that makes DVD players refusing to play horror movies because they think they’re too violent and don’t approve. That for the consumer to decide. Stores IMO do have the right to refuse to sell an item as does Steam. However I wish they would reconsider. If you don’t like a product for whatever reason, the best form of boycott is: DON’T BUY IT. But stop acting like you have the right to make that decision for others who may feel differently.

  7. Father Time says:

    Now where were they when people were claiming GTA had rape in them or that you could acsess hot coffee with a cheat code?


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  8. Erik says:

    Semi-kudos on Rockstar for belatedly finding it’s testicles.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  9. Wormdundee says:

    Too bad Manhunt 2 isn’t a very good game. Try it out though, maybe you’ll find it more to your liking.

  10. Erasmus Darwin says:

    Then again, they had a choice of an M-rated version in that case, and the retail stores were presumably also carrying the game.  If Rockstar were to make the PC version of Manhunt 2 available as AO-rated only, Valve might be swayed by the chance at getting an exclusive (or semi-exclusive if Direct2Drive’s also carrying it) that isn’t available in retail stores at all.

  11. MaskedPixelante says:

    I doubt Steam would carry it. They only have Indigo Prophecy, whereas you can go over to Direct2Drive and download the AO rated Farhenheit: Indigo Prophecy Director’s Cut.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  12. MrKlorox says:

    Keep in mind that Steam auto-patches games, and Hot Coffee was removed via patch. It would be against their policies to provide the pun patched version, regardless of rating.

  13. djnforce9 says:

    Ah I see. I forgot that there were "variations" of that game with alternate ratings (Hot Coffee, non-hot coffee like you said). The reason for the number of kids games though on steam is that they have an entire section dedicated to "Casual gamers" to which family friendly games fit that profile (some of which are really darn good titles too like Plants Vs. Zombies). It also seems that casual games in general are released far more quickly/frequently too probably due to their simplicity. If you look at http://www.reflexivearcade.com and watch how frequently releases occur, you’ll see what I mean.


    Anyhow, in the end I guess I will either end up getting it on Steam or Direct 2 Drive (assuming that is the route chosen) but personally, I’d prefer steam due to the ability to re-download the game whenever I please (should I lose my original and backup copies).

  14. Overcast says:

    If I like Manhunt, I might too. To be honest, I never tried it – but the AO rating might get me to. Never could quite understand why it’s ok for movies to have NC-17 (AO) ratings, but not games?

    I guess the video game industry needs to grease some more palms, like Hollywood does.

  15. thefremen says:

    I think a better question is…Who is going to buy this game when Champions Online, Alpha Protocol, Batman, Hearts of Iron 3 and Dirt 2 are all coming out soon. 

  16. axiomatic says:

    I bought my copy from a off duty prison guard selling dope and computer games disguised as a nun. But at least he asked to see my ID, so at least he had that going for him.


  17. MaskedPixelante says:

    Ahh, but it’s the M-rated, Hot Coffee free version.

    I’m just saying "Don’t EXPECT it on Steam." They may cater to the tastes of adult gamers, but they’ve got a fair amount of kids, judging by how many family friendly and young oriented games they sell.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  18. djnforce9 says:

    "That means that Rockstar is either planning a digital distribution campaign for Manhunt 2 or that it will edit the PC version"


    I like the first idea. Throw it up on Steam and Direct2Drive and you’re ready to go. After all, steam and D2D already has the first Manhunt and other "Adult Only" games. Then they won’t have worry about Gamestop/Walmart bickering at all.



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