Take Two has announced that the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has changed the rating of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on all versions from “Mature 17+” (M) to “Adults Only 18+” (AO). This change has been made because of the ‘hot coffee’ mod which exposed sexual content within the game.
As a result of the rating change Rockstar has ceased manufacturing of the current version of the game and are to begin working on version with “enhanced security” to prevent the ‘hot coffee’ mod. I would assume that the content within the game exposed by the mod will also be removed. This new version is expected to be ready for the fourth fiscal quarter (August-October). Rockstar will not be recalling existing versions of the game, but are to offer AO labels to retailers wishing to continue selling the game.
“Take-Two and Rockstar Games have always worked to keep mature-themed video game content out of the hands of children and we will continue to work closely with the ESRB and community leaders to improve and better promote a reliable rating system to help consumers make informed choices about which video games are appropriate for each individual,” said Paul Eibeler, Take-Two’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The ESRB’s decision to re-rate a game based on an unauthorized third party modification presents a new challenge for parents, the interactive entertainment industry and anyone who distributes or consumes digital content. Rockstar Games is pleased that the investigation is now settled and they look forward to returning their focus to making innovative and groundbreaking video games for a mature audience.“
The modifications that allow for the sexual scenes to be accessed represent a violation of Take Two and Rockstar’s end user license agreement (EULA) and intellectual property rights.
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“We are deeply concerned that the publicity surrounding these unauthorized modifications has caused the game to be misrepresented to the public and has detracted from the creative merits of this award winning product,” said Mr. Eibeler.
Take Two are investigating legal actions, which could be taken on companies who profited from creating and distributing tools for altering the content of the game.
Those who own the current version of the game on PC will soon be able to download a patch, making San Andreas ‘hot coffee’ proof. So, it may have started off as a bit of a laugh, but it soon became headline news and now has landed San Andreas with an AO rating. This does however carry a strange message: It’s fine for 17 year olds to shoot innocent people in the head, but having sex is not allowed.
The UK versions of the game are unlikely to be affected as the BBFC don’t see any reason to re-rate the game.