After news that Manhunt 2 was banned outright in the United Kingdom and on its way to a commercially unfriendly AO rating in the U.S., publisher Take-Two Interactive announced Friday that it will delay the game’s release. Originally scheduled to come out on July 10, the game will now wait while Take-Two figures out what to do about the ratings.
Whether or not the firestorm over the game’s release was intentional, it may ultimately help sell the title. If Rockstar tweaks Manhunt 2 for an “M” rating in the United States and an “over 18” rating abroad, it will end up with a commercially viable rating, but keep the violent, over-the-top reputation it earned from the original ratings fiasco. Like an R-rated movie that has been toned down from NC-17, the game may draw purchasers just to see what all the fuss is about.
Take-Two’s chairmen Strauss Zelnick defended the game as “art” yesterday, further deepening the game’s mystique. “We firmly believe that parents and consumers, once informed as to the nature of any entertainment product, should be able to make their own choices.” Zelnick said in a statement. "[Manhunt 2] fits squarely within the horror genre and was intended to do so.”
Leaving the game with AO rating most likely won’t be an option for Take-Two. The game would join the ranks of only 23 other AO-rated titles, most of which were pornographic games that ended up as commercial flops. Rockstar’s own Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas may be a notable exception, but it received the rating well after its initial release.