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Games watchdog warns over content

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Games publishers in the US have been told by the industry's watchdog that they must declare any hidden content in games released since September 2004.

Games publishers in the US have been told by the industry's watchdog that they must declare any hidden content in games released since September 2004.

It follows the uproar over secret sex scenes in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas which were unlocked by a fan.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has warned publishers that any hidden material should reflect the games rating.

Publishers failing to disclose content face "punitive action", it said.

The content in GTA: San Andreas was revealed by code created by a fan and had not previously been declared by its publisher Take Two.

The tighter rules were distributed by e-mail to US publishers and developers but a copy was leaked to games website Gamasutra.

"Fully disclosing hidden content accessible as Easter eggs and via cheat codes has always been part of ESRB's explicitly stated requirements when submitting games to be rated," said the US watchdog.

"If you fail to notify us of previously undisclosed, non-playable, pertinent content by January 9, and such content becomes playable through a subsequent authorized or unauthorized release of code to unlock it, rendering the original rating assignment inaccurate, punitive in addition to corrective actions may result."

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