In a prepared statement, Take-Two acknowledged that the ESRB has issued a preliminary rating of AO (Adults Only) for its upcoming PlayStation 2 and Wii title Manhunt 2.
The announcement follows a ban on the sale of the game in the UK as well as a letter written to the ESRB by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood urging the organization to give Manhunt 2 an AO rating.
Earlier, ESRB president Patricia Vance noted that the rating had already been communicated to the publisher, but that "we are unable to publicly release the rating at this time as it is our policy that ratings be posted to our website 30 days following assignment, unless the game is released prior to the end of that period."
"This is done to give publishers the opportunity to consider modifying and resubmitting their games for rating or appealing the rating assigned to our Appeals Board should they wish to do so."
After acknowledging the preliminary AO rating, Take-Two responded: "We believe the process of rating videogames is to help people make informed entertainment choices and not to limit them. Manhunt 2 was created for mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature) rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of media."
No console videogame has ever been released with an AO rating, although Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was briefly labeled as such after sexually explicit content was discovered in the game. Take-Two chose to recall GTA: San Andreas rather than leave it on the shelves with the new rating. Most US retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, refuse to carry software rated AO.
The ESRB is waiting for Take-Two's response, whether it decides to accept the rating, appeal, or resubmit Manhunt 2 after altering the game's content.
"We are exploring our options with regard to Manhunt 2," said Take-Two.