Hatred Receives AO Rating, Future Unclear
posted Sunday Jan 18, 2015 by Scott Ertz
Hatred, a third person killing simulator, has received an Adult Only rating from the ESRB. The information comes to us via a developer on the game's forum, whose post said,
Well, I'm not quite convinced why Hatred got AO rating while it lacks any sexual content, but it's still some kind of achievement to have the second game in history getting AO rating for violence and harsh language only.
The title is actually the third game to receive the AO rating for only violence, but that statistic aside, it does not spell success for the title. One of the previous titles, Thrill Kill, was canceled before release by Electronic Arts after purchasing the publisher and objecting to the content. The other game, Manhunt 2, was edited to allow its release at all, before being patched by gamers.
The AO rating is important for a number of reasons, but foremost is that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all have policies of not allowing games with AO ratings on their platforms. Even Value has a policy against AO titles on Steam, which is why Manhunt is available on the platform, but the sequel is not. Even retail sales are troubled for PC, as Gamestop, Target and Walmart will not carry the title for PC, either, if it retains the AO rating.
So, this leaves a difficult decision for the company: either alter the game to drop the rating or try to release the game for PC only without the support of anyone. Manhunt decided to go for a hybrid approach: they released a version of the game with everything intact for the PC, but released an altered version of the game for consoles. The future of the game is unclear at this point, but a comment on the forum says,
I would prefer to get a standard M+ rating, because with AO we will have problems to get to consoles in the future, but on the other hand I think you guys (our fans) would be disappointed with it.
So, the developers, or at least one, would prefer to keep the game intact, but a decision like this often comes down to money. While it is a different world 7 years later, and the game could be successful because of press received from the issue, it is more likely that the publisher will decide to alter the game to allow for mass release.