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Hatred gets AO for Adults Only rating

ESRB hands out most restrictive rating to Destructive Creations' killing spree shooter

The Entertainment Software Rating Board has issued an AO for Adults Only rating to Destructive Creations' Hatred.

"Based on the content depicted in Hatred and the overall context of the game, ESRB assigned an AO (Adults Only) rating with content descriptors that include Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, and Strong Language," an ESRB representative told GamesIndustry.biz.

The game, which casts players as a nihilistic protagonist and asks them to engage in a killing rampage as "the lord of life and death" with "full control over lives of worthless human scum," was pulled from--and then returned to--Steam's Greenlight community approval process last month.

A Valve employee pulled the plug on the campaign, informing the developer that based on what had been revealed of the game to that point, Valve would not publish it on Steam. However, Valve head Gabe Newell later reversed that call and returned the game to Greenlight, saying the original retraction "wasn't a good decision" and wishing the developers good luck. Hatred was subsequently Greenlit by the Steam community.

While an AO rating isn't an outright ban on a game, it does severely limit a developer's options. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all prohibit AO-rated games on their systems, and most major North American retailers have policies against stocking such titles. Valve does not have a stated policy on AO-rated games, but it doesn't carry any on Steam at the moment. As of press time, a Valve representative has not responded to a request for comment.

Latest comments (11)

Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
Valve does not have a stated policy on AO-rated games, but it doesn't carry any on Steam at the moment.
I have a feeling Valve is about to update their policy statements.
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It's seems to me to be a bit childish to create an Adults Only category then for every company involved to attempt to prevent all adult's the choice of weather they wish to purchase any adults only title's or not, especially given the vast majority of gamers are adult's.

Isn't the point of being an adult gaining the right of self-determination over ones action's and preferences within reason, personally I find such a denial of choice by all the companies listed above and the many unlisted but implied to be morally abhorrent in and of itself, I prefer the choice to choose content for myself, not to have my personal choices taken away from me by generally personally morally bankrupt but publicly morally prudish individual's.

If Gabe Newell is taking a stand in defence of self-determination with his re-listing of this title, then he has my whole hearted support, I neither desire nor share the morals of those who seek to impose their own concept of morality upon me, indeed I tend to find those who are publicly the most vocal about high moral standard's and/or their adherence to them, tend to be personally the vilest rotter's around, so I wish they'd spare there personal self-sanctimonious notions of "good moral" practises solely for PR purposes from having any bearance on my own choices.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 17th January 2015 12:38am

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
I have a feeling Valve is about to update their policy statements.
Yup, though there's been a shift towards AO/mature titles on Steam anyway, so it's debatable how much they'll update. A fair number of Japanese Visual Novels have been released on Steam of late, and whilst the "adult" ones are still censored, they're also still pretty etchi. It'll be interesting to see if they issue revised guidelines for sex/nudity, or whether they're just going to be more relaxed with extreme violence AO.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 17th January 2015 7:34am

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Show all comments (11)
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
There's an interesting little work-around that's occurred/occurring with the Japanese VNs. Censored version is sold on Steam, but an uncensored patch is released on the company website. It's not ideal, but it might be the best compromise, and not just for sex/nudity. It's certainly debatable how effective it is - either the company announces it widely and under-age players download it, or they keep quiet and no-one downloads it - but it allows Valve to keep their hands clean whilst keeping the openness of PC there.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 17th January 2015 11:40am

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Andrew Wilson 3D Artist 4 years ago
It seems ironic that the only distribution channel that is likely to sell this classification is also arguably the least equipped to police sales. That said I strongly support the right of people to develop anything and for 'Adults Only' to make the decision about whether that's something they want to purchase. Won't someone think of the adults!?
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 4 years ago
So Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo just suck... They think Adults don't want to play games that are only for them... In the end they are nothing but a bunch of hypocrits, just like the ratingsboard, Hatred isn't anything different than say GTA 4 or 5..
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If I had the power to certainly and without hesitation, I would create a universal guideline for the release of public content along with a similar organisation to decide special cases, which all companies that are in the position of currently deciding the fate of content for themselves would be required to adhere to, though as general rule power decides, whoever has the most gets to set what freedom is, much as adherent to laws and their creation are enforced by the principal of the collective power of those who seek to maintain the current system's of law and governance exceed's those who seek to ignore them, still if I had that kind of power, there would be a great many more changes in the world they'd probably find far more abhorrent to them then my denial of that right, but patently obviously I don't nor is to likely I ever will.

However those companies that set themselves up in between content creator's and the public have a moral responsibility to not merely consider their own associations but also to not deny entire swathes of content to the public for PR reasons, however my power such as it is extends merely to mentioning the obvious in an industry replies section, and stating an opinion formulated towards painting them in the less than favourable light that I believe they most richly deserve which I might add does not constitute an attempted denial of their rights, merely the expression of my own.

The primary reason they don't want to be associated of course is caused usually by ignorant duped parent's lobby no *insert number here* organised from a few politicians of such awful calibre that they have to focus on populist issues such as violence in games in order to attract any kind of support, combined with the collective ignorance of a bunch of people who think they want to maintain fictitious idolized moral standards but lack the realisation that if they spend more time with their kids rather than organising daft lobby's their offspring might have rather a better chance of maintaining or even uplifting said standards then as it stands at the moment.
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Tim Browne Game Studio Design Director, King.com4 years ago
I was intrigued what the actual guidelines are for ESRB and the difference between AO and M. Here are the official guidlines from ESRB -

M = MATURE
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.


AO = ADULTS ONLY
Content suitable only for adults ages 18 and up. May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.


What I find intriguing is when the BBFC was used (in the UK) that something like GTA would be an 18, not for sale to anyone under the age of 18. What a difference a year in age makes!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Browne on 20th January 2015 9:26am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany4 years ago
@Andrew
Have you any knowledge regarding age rating? Let me update you in a quick run:
Hatred is different from GTA in a thing called "context", which is something that (along with a lot of other factors) is used when giving a rating for a game. Also, within that, each rating board has a different point of view regarding what is acceptable or not, and that is tied to the region where that rating operates (Europe is more tolerant to sex and less to violence, USA the opposite, and Asia somewhere between)
Also, I would like to remind you that console companies still focus their market into the familiar environment, and the presence of AO games (aka Porn) have a negative impact in how do they look in the eyes of parents which (even today) are the ones buying the console for their kids and they will go ballistic as soon as Fox News talks about the last "killer game" (Which they will; they always do). That is why SEGA used to publish its more violent games under the "Deep Water" brand and the very same reason why Unreal wanted their logo out of this game: because people remembers and because this kind of publicity can be very bad.

Now that you got this, I have a recommendation for you: The kind of language you used in your post would be acceptable in Gamespot, Kotaku or youtube. But here, in this website, a lot of people from the industry (Like Peter Moore, for example) come regularly. People from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. You know... those people that you just said that suck and are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. Also some people specialized in age rating that usually deal with the ratings boards (like yours truly right here) that do not like to be insulted in this comments like if this were some random gaming website, specially by somebody like you, who proved that he is fast to judge even when he has no knowledge of what he is talking about.

Now I hope you take this in a good way and mind how you say things in the future. I am known here for being quite outspoken (sometimes too much) but a direct disrespect to other fellow members of the industry is unacceptable.

Have a good day.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 21st January 2015 9:03am

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
Computer games and killing have a strange relationship. If the game provides he wrong reason why objectA triggers bloodfountainC on objectB, the game will be AO. If you provide a socially acceptable context, you get M. GTA style outlaw violence might be unacceptable in reality, but in the context of a game, being an outlaw is socially accepted. It has a slightly higher status than a plain hate-crime, even if you fire rocket launchers at intersections.

From here it gets really weird. If you further tune down the violence and crank up the reasons why killing is necessary, you can get a T rating. Usually you have to change the side of the law, from outlaw to justice department, but once you do, you can slaughter more bandits for no reason than any GTA player ever will; still teen. Example? Take any MMO. For example, Guild Wars 2 has a quest in which the player is approached by a person claiming that bandits stole some something from them. Being judge, jury and executioner, the player goes into a cave to kill 50 bandits over a stack of hay. That mentality is the normality of teen ratings anywhere.

But it gets better. Did you ever consider what Mario is doing? It is the bandit cave all over again, the only difference being the artstyle trying to remove any traces of shock value and perceiving the act of the kill. E for everyone!
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany4 years ago
@Klaus
That is true, although in GTA that acceptance not only comes from the fact that the character is a criminal; but also the fact that his life is negatively impacted because of that. Not to mention that, unlike this game, in GTA a murderous spree of innocent civilians or cops do not help progress in the game (Gets you pursued and killed, in fact) While in Hatred this is the only single purpose of the whole game. As an extra example, I could put that it was change of context was what cause of the different rating between Far Cry 2 (PEGI 16) and Fr Cry 3 (PEGI 18)

In Guild Wars (good example, by the way) we find another element that affect age rating along with the context, and this is the background. Guild Wars in a unrealistic fantastic world which is 99% untied from reality, which causes the player to be distanced from anything in it. This is an important factor even for more demanding rating organizations like the German USK. As an example: "COD Black ops." was censored in Germany while "Dead Space" was released uncut. There reason here was (along with the context) the background, since Dead Space was too fictional and unrealistic to be considered "connectable" with reality.

Long story short: "Context" and "Background" make the difference. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 21st January 2015 3:31pm

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