UK: Manhunt 2 Banned, Rockstar Responds
UPDATE – The British Board of Film Classification has ruled that Rockstar will be unable to release controversial sequel Manhunt 2 in the UK on the grounds of its ultra-violent, provocative nature. Rockstar is "disappointed" with the decision.
Update: Added Rockstar statement.
The ruling means it will be illegal to supply the PS2 and Wii-bound title anywhere in the UK.
“Rejecting a work is a very serious action and one which we do not take lightly. Where possible we try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which remove the material which contravenes the Board’s published Guidelines,” said BBFC director David Cooke.
“In the case of Manhunt 2 this has not been possible. Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing.
“Against this background, the Board’s carefully considered view is that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2, on either platform, would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be unacceptable to the public.”
Rockstar has responded to the BBFC’s decision by expressing disappointment at the ban. The company suggested that ratings of media products should act as a guide enabling consumers to make up their own minds about what they wish to purchase.
"We are disappointed with the recent decision by the British Board of Film Classification to refuse classification of Manhunt 2. While we respect the authority of the classification board and will abide by the rules, we emphatically disagree with this particular decision," reads a statement from the company.
“Manhunt 2 is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and horror. The subject matter of this game is in line with other mainstream entertainment choices for adult consumers.
“We respect those who have different opinions about the horror genre and video games as a whole, but we hope they will also consider the opinions of the adult gamers for whom this product is intended. We believe all products should be rated to allow the public to make informed choices about the media and art they wish to consume. The stories in modern video games are as diverse as the stories in books, film and television. The adult consumers who would play this game fully understand that it is fictional interactive entertainment and nothing more.”
Paul Jackson, director general of ELSPA (Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) believes that the BBFC’s decision to ban Manhunt 2 proves that the UK has an "effective" ratings system.
“A decision from the BBFC such as this demonstrates that we have a games ratings system in the UK that is effective. It shows it works and works well. Any decision the BBFC takes, it takes on the basis of its remit to rate on screen entertainment,” he said.
"The games industry is a creative phenomenon that produces all kinds of games across all kinds of genres that appeal to all kinds of people across the country, young and old, male and female. The important thing to know is that all games are rated according to age suitability, with over 70 per cent of games being available to all ages over three years," he added.
Rockstar has the right to appeal the decision under the terms of the Video Recordings Act.