Manhunt 2, round 2: Take-Two comes out swinging

Finally! After a worrying period of silence, non-specific delays, and vague mumblings about standing behind the game, Take-Two havespoken out about their true feelings on Manhunt 2‘s recent savaging at the hands of the world’s ratings boards. It seems going quietly into the night isn’t high on their list of things to do today …

Speaking at a recent meeting, Chairman Strauss Zelnick stated that the company is “dealing with the challenging development in a professional and highly focused manner” and plans to release the game “as unvarnished and unchanged as possible” and “in a responsible fashion.”

He went on to be highly vocal about the current state of the ratings system, the changes that need to be made, and what Take-Two intends to do in order to get Manhunt 2 out and into the hands of its intended audience. Hit the jump to find out what he said. 

We don’t see ourselves in the AO business, and if we find ourselves there, it would be because we have a title we consider art and entertainment, that we consider appropriately rated at AO, that we’d like to bring to market.

In that instance, one has to ask oneself what is the purpose of a rating if it means that effectively the title can’t be released. 

Zelnick continued that the problem “doesn’t fall at the doorstep of the retailers,” and that it’s

…not correct to be critical of retailers, because this is a voluntary ratings organization in the U.S. We have to be critical of ourselves if we’ve allowed a system to develop that prevents us from bringing a title to market.

In adding that this sitituation is “something we have to address,” he also noted that Take-Two’s CEO is on the board of the ESA, and pointed out that the company “could envision changes that would make sense.” He continued:

The notion of having a rating we don’t think is appropriate is one issue. If we feel a rating is appropriate and we can’t bring it to market, that seems somewhat nonsensical, and both issues need to be addressed. 

Zelnick was also open about the fact that Take-Two are

…absolutely looking at digital downloading… We’re in that business aggressively,

and notably added

We do think its terribly important to bring original producers’ and creators’ vision of Manhunt 2 to the public.

If that we means we have to be clever about how we distribute it, we will be ambitious and aggressive about bringing that to market. 

Good news? Most definitely. The fact that we live in a day and age in which the games industry is bigger than Hollywood, yet still can’t produce creative works intended for an adult audience without fear of this kind of treatment, beggars believe. While solid and responsible ratings are the cornerstone of a legitimate, eclectic entertainment medium, a situation in which works can be effectively banned from their intended audience devalues the whole system and puts us back at least ten years.

The industry needs to make a mature and responsible stand here in order to shake up some outdated perceptions and create a more workable system for the modern-day gaming climate. Who knows, in inciting this kind of a reaction, this whole Manhunt 2 mess might actually turn out to have done us a favor in the long run. 

[Via Gamasutra. Thanks to the eight thousand people who sent in the tip. We love you all.] 

David Houghton