Nov. 6, 2007 — -- On the heels of criticism over its violent content, the video game "Manhunt 2" will not be carried by Target, the company confirmed to ABCNEWS.com in a statement Tuesday.
Since its release date was revealed, "Manhunt 2," a video game that chronicles the ultraviolent killing rampage of an escaped sociopath from a mental hospital, has stirred worldwide controversy for its violent imagery.
"All video games and computer software sold at Target currently carry ratings by the Entertainment Software Rating Board — from early childhood through mature audiences," the statement said. "While 'Manhunt 2' was given a 'Mature' rating by the ESRB, we received additional information that players can potentially view previously filtered content by altering the game code. As a result, we have decided not to carry the game."
"It's a big blow, in the sense of that's a place where people are buying lots of games. As a result, it's going to reduce the number of people that will see it," said Michael Gartenberg, the vice president and research director of Jupiter research. "But it kind of underscores the fact that older gamers are looking for mature content, and at the same point that retailers are going to be sensitive to the content that they put on the shelves," including video games.
When the original version of the game was tagged with an "Adults Only" rating, which most stores refuse to carry, the video game's publisher, Take Two, blurred out the more violent images in the game to achieve a less restrictive, more consumer friendly "Mature" rating.
Take Two came under fire, however, last week when consumer groups criticized the game, because the blurred portions could be unlocked. Hackers playing the game on PlayStation Portable could manipulate the code to reveal the more violent, originally censored scenes.
Despite the hackable scenes, however, the ESRB allowed "Manhunt 2" to keep its M rating.
On Friday, Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB, said the rating was "still valid, and we stand behind it."