A few days back, in Rockstar Backs Down, I mentioned that Manhunt 2 had be re-rated from “AO” to “M”. This upset, among others, California State Senator Leland Yee, who called for “transparency” and exact details on what was changed.

A response has now been issued by Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB, in which the organization has basically told the critics to go peddle their papers elsewhere, although in politer terms.

As it is, I can’t see why this matter was raised in the first place, at least insofar as the ratings are concerned. In looking up the ratings, I see that “M” is for 17+, and “AO” is 18+. That’s a difference of only one year. If “AO” had been 21+, then I could see they might have concerns.

As it is, I don’t see why this one-year difference is such a big thing for retailers, either. Unless perhaps they think potential customers are scared off by “Adults Only”, relating it somehow to porn? Or that “underage” people might try to buy it because of the rating?

Of course, none of that has ended the speculation on whether 2K has manuevered this controversy to help sell the game on release. There is a cynical majority that believes 2K was ready, one way or another, to have the game re-rated after the dust settled.

I’m rather with the majority myself, figuring any company that creates a game like this wouldn’t be scared to pull any marketing trick to sell it. In any case, you can read the ESRB response at Gamasutra.

ESRB On Manhunt 2’s Re-Rating