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Thursday, July 21, 2005
ESRB Changes San Andreas Rating To Adults Only
7:40 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

In surprising move the ESRB has rescinded its original rating of Mature (MA) for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It has been upgraded to Adults Only (AO), the first rating of its kind for a modern console game, and an unusual rating for a PC game not specifically designed to be pornographic. In addition to the ratings change, the ESRB advised North American retailers to take unsold games off the market until "corrective actions" can be taken.

Under intense media scrutiny and political pressure the ratings board conducted an investigation of the game's content after a mod posted on the Internet allowed users of the PC version of GTA: SA to access previously unseen pornographic material found in the game. The ESRB investigators found that the content had been preexisting within all versions of the game and had merely been unlocked by the mod's creators. This played a role in their decision to reclassify the game.

"After a thorough investigation, we have concluded that sexually explicit material exists in a fully rendered, unmodified form on the final discs of all three platform versions of the game (i.e., PC CD-ROM, Xbox and PS2)," commented Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB, in an official statement announcing the ratings change.

Vance continued: "However, the material was programmed by Rockstar to be inaccessible to the player and they have stated that it was never intended to be made accessible. The material can only be accessed by downloading a software patch, created by an independent third party without Rockstar’s permission, which is now freely available on the internet and through console accessories. Considering the existence of the undisclosed and highly pertinent content on the final discs, compounded by the broad distribution of the third party modification, the credibility and utility of the initial ESRB rating has been seriously undermined."

Since the announcement the company has downgraded its quarterly and yearly earnings estimates, due in large part to the numbers of retail outlets who have policies preventing the sale of AO rated games. Whether or not actual sales will be impacted by the rating change remains to be seen.

The impact of this decision is likely to be felt in the gaming industry for some time to come, and gamers may find some of their favorite titles harder to find in the future. For more information click the link below.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Re-Rated AO, Take-Two Drops Forecast

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Archives  News  ESRB Changes San Andreas Rating To Adults Only