Take-Two president and CEO Paul Eibeler has responded to the Federal Trade Commission's ruling over the sexually explicit content hidden in multi-million selling title Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
The game was originally given a Mature rating, but after the 'Hot Coffee' mod was discovered last year it was pulled from the shelves and re-rated as Adults Only. Take-Two claims costs incurred by the move amounted to USD 24.5 million.
The FTC charged that both Take-Two and Rockstar violated regulations by failing to inform consumers that San Andreas discs contained explicit content - content which could only be unlocked with a mod, and which had not been submitted to the ESRB for rating.
Now the two companies have reached a settlement with FTC which requires them to "establish, implement, and maintain a comprehensive system reasonably designed to ensure that all content in an electronic game is considered and reviewed in preparing submissions to a rating authority."
Rockstar and Take-Two must also "clearly disclose" on game packaging any content relevant to the game's rating, "unless that content had been disclosed sufficiently in prior submissions to the rating authority."
"Parents have the right to rely on the accuracy of the entertainment rating system," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTCâs Bureau of Consumer Protection.
"We allege that Take-Two and Rockstarâs actions undermined the industryâs own rating system and deceived consumers. This is a matter of serious concern to the Commission, and if they violate this order, they can be heavily fined."
If Take-Two and Rockstar fail to meet the FTC's requirements in future, they will face fines of up to USD 11,000 per incident. However, they appear to have escaped without financial penalty on this occasion.
"As you can imagine, we are pleased that the FTC has concluded its very thorough investigation, and that the matter has been resolved," Eibeler said in a statement.
"We recognize the importance of the FTC investigation, and the necessity of maintaining public confidence in the ESRB rating system, and helping the ESRB educate parents and consumers about the rating system. We look forward to putting this behind us."