A bigger question is the fact that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft do not allow AO rated games to be made for their various game consoles. Yet it is conceivable that a game with an AO rating can also be a great and artistically redeeming title. How does this defacto ban of AO games affect how developers create titles? Fawkner told us, "Well, yes, it is undoubtedly censorship. But the saying goes - if you're going to come to my house, you have to play by my rules. These policies were in place when Manhunt started, they're nothing new," However, Fawkner disagrees with Take Two's official statement about the artistic merits on Manhunt 2. "I don't think that anyone should confuse Manhunt 2 with an artistic endeavor - this is a commercial endeavor pure and simple - if it was about making an artistic statement, then there are avenues and platforms upon which that could be done. This game is all about making profit by depicting extreme graphical violence. I don't have a problem with that, but I can't imagine that anyone is naive enough to think that there wasn't a good chance of this happening." Jason Kingsley, the co-founder of UK based game developer Rebellion, told us, "All things are possible, though in this case its unlikely to be anything to do with artistic merit or censorship, given the first game sold on its media reputation, after an initial failure in the marketplace, rather than its merits."
Desi told us, "We feel itís a privilege to be on a console, not a developerís right. Console companies have the right to set their own policies regarding content. Again, I think the real issue is that the AO rating currently has the effect of a Scarlet Letter A. As consumers in a supposedly free market society we should be able to choose what we want to purchase or play, no different than other entertainment products. Unfortunately the video game industry has not matured to that point yet."
Smart told us that Take Two Interactive should be able to take responsibility for the content of Manhunt 2, saying "Nobody said not to make an AO rated movie or game. But by the same token, if you decide to develop and publish a game, e.g. Manhunt 2, that is clearly outside the norm, you should expect to take the heat for it. So, sure, make your M or AO rating game because there is most probably an audience for it. Go ahead, exercise your right to [protected] free speech, your artistic freedom and all that crap we take for granted so some can abuse it at will. But just don't go crying foul when the system - designed to distinguish it from other fare - gives it a deserved branding. After all, thats what the ratings system is all about. Whether it works or not is irrelevant because it is not the ESRB's responsibility to police the people (retailers) who actually sell the games. In much the same way that they can't tell a developer what type of game to make. So, a game with an AO rating, is still likely to fall into the hands of a teenager."
Chmielarz, however, stated that console maker's decision to ban the release of AO games could be an issue in the future. He told us, "That thing is a real problem, not the AO label. Is it really so good for business that a given console will never have AO content? Somehow it did not kill DVD market... And it will not kill PC market... We all know it's on the contrary. I mean, MS/N/S can do whatever they please with their consoles, they can ban games that do not feature pink elephants - it's their hardware. But we have entered an era where graphics is almost photorealistic (e.g. Gears of War), so this problem with adult content will start to bite developers in the ass more and more. 10 years ago killing a man meant hundred pixel silhouette dropping on the floor in 3 frames of animation. Now we can see a single blood drop and parts of the brain splattered all over the wall. And if adult people want to see that, they should be allowed to. And for every Manhunt 2 PC, there will be a copy of a console game not sold. Ok, that's an exaggeration, but I hope it's clear where I'm going with this. I don't think labelling is stupid and unfair, but I think censorship is."