ESRB reportedly ramps up game trailer monitoring

Posted by Mark Raby

Washington (DC) - After a whirlwind with Rockstar's violent Manhunt 2 game, the ESRB now appears to be taking bigger steps to restrict game trailers.

According to media reports, publisher D3 was asked by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) to immediately pull a gameplay montage of its upcoming PS3/Xbox 360 game Dark Sector, which the ratings board said was excessively violent.  2K Games was also reportedly given the same kind of notice with regard to its game The Darkness.

Two years ago, new restrictions prevented trailers for games with Mature and Adults Only ratings from being put online, unless an age verification gate was implemented.  Still, underage users can easily enter a false birth date and watch the trailer.

Even so, however, game trailers cannot be too graphic or the publishers can face penalties.  The ESRB says it is only following industry standards set in place under the Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Advertising Practices, which also apply to movie trailers.

The ratings board says these restrictions have been in place since the turn of the century, but this is the first time in recent memory that it has actively pursued the removal of violent game trailers.  The crackdown on these previews also comes just days after the ESRB refused to give an "M" rating to the controversial Manhunt 2 game, instead deeming it violent enough for a restrictive "AO" rating.

This has caused a significant backlash from gamers, with the ESRB's move indefinitely suspending the release of the Manhunt sequel.  Violent game enthusiasts have been bitter toward the ESRB for its activist approach against notorious titles like Grand Theft Auto and Bully, but conservative legislators have praised the group for keeping an eye on the industry.