“Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” is being pulled out from the shelves after Entertainment Software Ratings Board reissues their rating under “Adults Only”. Game makers admitted including explicit interactive sex scenes on the game. This move from the game makers earned them a stern warning on their bestselling title.
The ratings were changed from a “Mature” rating, equivalent to an R movie rating, while “Adults Only” is equivalent to NC-17.
For weeks the company denied having placed explicit scenes as part of its unlockable features. This is done by downloading a software online. The scenes were entitled by designers as “Hot Coffee” was finally acknowledged later on.
Take-Two entertainment attempts to justify the insertion of such features to that of a painting with hidden art made by a master who paints over the same canvas to preserve another work of art. This issued attempt by Walker, the company’s spokesperson, was not well received.
With the violent nature of the game itself, the issue simply pressed on the fact that the game is not simply just violent, but also highly sexual. The fact does not do well for “Grand Theft Auto” who competes in the $25-billion game industry race for profits against its competitors.
Such move by Take-Two Interactive is believed to be a marketing strategy aimed to deceive the rating board, as well as parents of those who play and buy the game. Being the top-selling game, they have made interactive pornography easily available to thousands of children. State Representative Mary Lou Dickerson insists that they should be held responsible and should pay for the consequences of their actions in the legal system.
The game sold for around $50 has made roughly 12 million copies worldwide since it was released. “Mature” rated games are intended for 17 years and above, where retailers check for identification from buyers to verify their ages.
Wal-Mart and Best Buy Co. has removed the games from their stands, both stating that they have policies not to carry adult titles. They also assured that games can be returned and refunded should the customers want to. Take-Two, on the other hand, promised to make a patch for the game to block the sex scenes.
As word about the hidden scenes spread like wildfire all over the Internet, after Patrick Wildenbourg from the Netherlands distributed software to unlock them. Video games often have secret levels or powers, which are accessed after meeting all the necessary steps to them.
In this case, “Hot Coffee” offers interactive oral sex and intercourse within the game. Windenbourg refused to comment regarding his software and has removed it from the Internet.
At the beginning, Take-Two denied the existence of such content and said that it was their detractors who are attempting to alter the game. The release of the issue aroused game critics such as former First Lady Hilary Clinton to call for a federal investigation against the game company.
A re-rating for the “San Andreas” game is being called for the PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, and PC platforms versions. This is due to the confirmation of the explicit content in all the unaltered final discs of the game.
Take-Two’s spokesperson claims that the addition was not meant for public consumption until it was unlocked by a programmer outside their company.
The revelation caused for the company shares to drop by 11% just hours after the spread of the news, and a potential $40 million of lost sales should they decide to modify and remarket the game.
The release of the game’s secret has cost the company a vast amount of money due to negligence and error of judgment.
Previous versions of “Grand Theft Auto” made a name for their detailed violence and sex. One of their games rated as “Mature” implies sex through a car rocking back and forth.
Much like the game makers, the ratings board also received criticism since they were not able to detect the hidden scenes in the game when it was reviewed. The voluntary ratings system then is being viewed to be a failure after this case.
Parents remain skeptical despite assurance given by the executives regarding the anomalous incident with “San Andreas”. It is being claimed by the ratings board that the incident is the first in 11 years. Despite figures being enough to reassure parents, the incident has tarnished the ratings board’s track records.
In such an industry where consumers being children and their parents, parents now challenge the board after taking their stand against the incident to step up and gain back their confidence.