Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

'GTA' Game Rating Changed to Adults-Only

Filed under
Gaming

The video game industry on Wednesday changed to adults-only the rating of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," a best-selling game in which explicit sexual content can be unlocked with an Internet download.

The decision followed intense pressure from politicians and media watch groups, and retailers reacted swiftly - Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. said they would immediately pull all copies from their store shelves nationwide.

The game's producer, Rockstar Games, said it stopped making the current version and would provide new labels to any retailer willing to keep selling the games, which had been rated "M" for mature. The company also will offer a downloadable patch to fix the sex issue in PC versions, and is working on a new, more secure version, to be rated "M."

Rockstar's parent company, New York-based Take Two Interactive Software Inc., also admitted for the first time that the sex scenes had been built into the retail version of that game - not just the PC version but also those written for XBox and Playstation2 consoles.

Company officials had previously suggested that a modification created by outsiders added the scenes.

Take-Two spokesman Jim Ankner acknowledged in an Associated Press interview that the questioned scenes were created by Rockstar programmers. "The editing and finalization of any game is a complicated task and it's not uncommon for unused and unfinished content to remain on the disc," he said.

In a statement, the president of the Entertainment Software Rating Board said the sex scenes were programmed by Rockstar "to be inaccessible to the player."

But ESRB chief Patricia Vance also acknowledged that the "credibility and utility" of the industry-run board's initial "M" rating had been "seriously undermined."

Many retailers sell "M" rated games, which "may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older," according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, but won't sell "AO"-labeled games at all.

"Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" was last year's top console game, selling more than 5.1 million copies in the U.S. after its October release, according to market analyst NPD Group. Xbox and PC versions were released last month.

Take-Two said net sales could drop by more than $50 million this quarter, and lowered its financial expectations for the year to set aside funds for returns of the games. Guidance was reduced to $1.05 to $1.12 per share on $1.26 billion to $1.31 billion in sales from a prior estimate of $1.40 to $1.47 per share and sales of $1.3 billion to $1.35 billion.

Shares of Take-Two rose 12 cents to close at $27.07 on the Nasdaq, but later dropped $1.81, or 6.7 percent, to $25.26 in after-hours activity after falling more than 11 percent when the decision was announced. The stock has traded between $19.26 and $29.60 over the past year.

The rating change is vindication for Patrick Wildenborg, the Dutch programmer who developed the "hot coffee" modification and made downloads freely available on the Internet. Wildenborg had told the AP that his "mod" merely allowed the user to gain access to pre-existing content in game.

Such "mods" are wildly popular among the hardcore gaming community, and have been shown to extend the retail longevity of games like "Half-Life," which is still sold years after its first release because of a popular "Counter-Strike" mod that allows for detailed counter-terrorist shoot'em-up action.

Take-Two president Paul Eibeler said in a statement that "the 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."

The developments did little to appease Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, who applauded the ESRB investigation but remained disturbed that the sex content appeared on store shelves in the first place.

"Apparently the sexual material was embedded in the game. The company admitted that," Clinton said. "But the fact remains that the company gamed the ratings system."

Clinton has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate, and said the ESRB must do more to police content.

"I think that the rating board has to be vigilant and really make sure that it's as thorough as it can be and not just take the game makers' word as to what's on there," Clinton said.

Best Buy echoed that, saying it hopes its decision to stop selling the game will "send a strong message to game developers encouraging full cooperation with the ESRB."

The Parents Television Council, one of several media watchdogs that have criticized Rockstar and the ESRB, called on the game publisher to voluntarily recall the game and offer refunds to purchasers. Instead, Rockstar has agreed to exchange unsold inventory with new, "M" rated versions that "have the hidden content removed," the ESRB said.

"I tip my cap to that first step of showing responsibility," said Tim Winter, the council's executive director. "Phase two needs to be absolutely getting to the bottom of this coding issue. How did it get into that game? How did it get past the ratings board?"

Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Tizen News

OSS Leftovers

  • How Open Source Tech Helps Feds Solve Workforce Turnover Issues
    Just as a mainframe from decades ago might be ready for retirement, the IT staff who originally procured and installed that system might also be preparing for a new phase in their lives. It’s up to the current and next generation of government IT employees to prepare for that eventuality, but there are indications they may not be ready, despite evidence that older IT professionals are retiring or will soon be leaving their positions. Unfortunately, a skills gap exists even among younger generation IT workers. Agencies are scrambling to find personnel with expertise in cloud service management, cybersecurity, technical architecture and legacy technologies, such as common business-oriented language (COBOL) and mainframes, among other areas. At the same time that many workers are getting ready to retire, leaving behind a wealth of knowledge, many younger IT professionals are struggling to gain the knowledge they will need to take their agencies into the future.
  • Introducing Fn: “Serverless must be open, community-driven, and cloud-neutral”
    Fn, a new serverless open source project was announced at this year’s JavaOne. There’s no risk of cloud lock-in and you can write functions in your favorite programming language. “You can make anything, including existing libraries, into a function by packaging it in a Docker container.” We invited Bob Quillin, VP for the Oracle Container Group to talk about Fn, its best features, next milestones and more.
  • Debian seminar in Yokohama, 2017/11/18
    I had attended to Tokyo area debian seminar #157. The day’s special guest is Chris Lamb, the Debian Project Leader in 2017. He had attended to Open Compliance Summit, so we invited him as our guest.
  • Overclock Labs bets on Kubernetes to help companies automate their cloud infrastructure
    Overclock Labs wants to make it easier for developers to deploy and manage their applications across clouds. To do so, the company is building tools to automate distributed cloud infrastructure and, unsurprisingly, it is betting on containers — and specifically the Kubernetes container orchestration tools — to do this. Today, Overclock Labs, which was founded two years ago, is coming out of stealth and announcing that it raised a $1.3 million seed round from a number of Silicon Valley angel investors and CrunchFund — the fund that shares a bit of its name and history with TechCrunch but is otherwise completely unaffiliated with the blog you are currently reading.
  • MariaDB Energizes the Data Warehouse with Open Source Analytics Solution
    MariaDB® Corporation, the company behind the fastest growing open source database, today announced new product enhancements to MariaDB AX, delivering a modern approach to data warehousing that enables customers to easily perform fast and scalable analytics with better price performance over proprietary solutions. MariaDB AX expands the highly successful MariaDB Server, creating a solution that enables high performance analytics with distributed storage and parallel processing, and that scales with existing commodity hardware on premises or across any cloud platform. With MariaDB AX, data across every facet of the business is transformed into meaningful and actionable results.
  • AT&T Wants White Box Routers with an Open Operating System [Ed: AT&T wants to openwash its surveillance equipment]
    AT&T says it’s not enough to deploy white box hardware and to orchestrate its networks with the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) software. “Each individual machine also needs its own operating system,” writes Chris Rice, senior vice president of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture, in a blog post. To that end, AT&T announced its newest effort — the Open Architecture for a Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS).
  • Intel Lands Support For Vector Neural Network Instructions In LLVM
  • p2k17 Hackathon report: Antoine Jacoutot on ports+packages progress
  • GCC 8 Feature Development Is Over
    Feature development on the GCC 8 compiler is over with it now entering stage three of its development process. SUSE's Richard Biener announced minutes ago that GCC 8 entered stage three development, meaning only general bug fixing and documentation updates are permitted.
  • 2018 Is The Year For Open Source Software For The Pentagon
  • Open-source defenders turn on each other in 'bizarre' trademark fight sparked by GPL fall out
    Two organizations founded to help and support developers of free and open-source software have locked horns in public, betraying a long-running quarrel rumbling mostly behind the scenes. On one side, the Software Freedom Law Center, which today seeks to resolve licensing disputes amicably. On the other, the Software Freedom Conservancy, which takes a relatively harder line against the noncompliance of licensing terms. The battleground: the, er, US Patent and Trademark Office. The law center has demanded the cancellation of a trademark held by the conservancy.
  • Open Source Underwater Glider: An Interview with Alex Williams, Grand Prize Winner
    Alex Williams pulled off an incredible engineering project. He developed an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) which uses a buoyancy engine rather than propellers as its propulsion mechanism and made the entire project Open Source and Open Hardware.

Programming Leftovers

Security: Linux, Free Software Principles, Microsoft and Intel

  • Some 'security people are f*cking morons' says Linus Torvalds
    Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has offered some very choice words about different approaches security, during a discussion about whitelisting features proposed for version 4.15 of the Linux kernel. Torvalds' ire was directed at open software aficionado and member of Google's Pixel security team Kees Cook, who he has previously accused of idiocy. Cook earned this round of shoutiness after he posted a request to “Please pull these hardened usercopy changes for v4.15-rc1.”
  • Free Software Principles
    Ten thousand dollars is more than $3,000, so the motives don't add up for me. Hutchins may or may not have written some code, and that code may or may not have been used to commit a crime. Tech-literate people, such as the readers of Linux Magazine, understand the difference between creating a work and using it to commit a crime, but most of the media coverage – in the UK, at least – has been desperate to follow the paradigm of building a man up only to gleefully knock him down. Even his achievement of stopping WannaCry is decried as "accidental," a word full of self-deprecating charm when used by Hutchins, but which simply sounds malicious in the hands of the Daily Mail and The Telegraph.
  • New warning over back door in Linux
    Researchers working at Russian cyber security firm Dr Web claim to have found a new vulnerability that enables remote attackers to crack Linux installations virtually unnoticed. According to the anti-malware company, cyber criminals are getting into the popular open-source operating system via a new backdoor. This, they say, is "indirect evidence" that cyber criminals are showing an increasing interest in targeting Linux and the applications it powers. The trojan, which it's calling Linux.BackDoor.Hook.1, targets the library libz primarily. It offers compression and extraction capabilities for a plethora of Linux-based programmes.
  • IN CHATLOGS, CELEBRATED HACKER AND ACTIVIST CONFESSES COUNTLESS SEXUAL ASSAULTS
  • Bipartisan Harvard panel recommends hacking [sic] safeguards for elections
     

    The guidelines are intended to reduce risks in low-budget local races as well as the high-stakes Congressional midterm contests next year. Though most of the suggestions cost little or nothing to implement and will strike security professionals as common sense, notorious attacks including the leak of the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, have succeeded because basic security practices were not followed.  

  • Intel Chip Flaws Leave Millions of Devices Exposed
     

    On Monday, the chipmaker released a security advisory that lists new vulnerabilities in ME, as well as bugs in the remote server management tool Server Platform Services, and Intel’s hardware authentication tool Trusted Execution Engine. Intel found the vulnerabilities after conducting a security audit spurred by recent research. It has also published a Detection Tool so Windows and Linux administrators can check their systems to see if they're exposed.