Bethesda Requests Fallout 3 Trailers Pulled, Cites ESRB

Fallout 3 developer Bethesda is asking consumer websites to remove promotional trailers for the game, which launches today in the U.S, citing adherence to the ESRB's advertising guidelines -- although several details still remain unclear.
Fallout 3 developer Bethesda is asking consumer websites to remove promotional trailers for the game, which launches today in the U.S. An email sent to multiple consumer sites hosting the trailers, including Shacknews, was succinct: "In connection with ESRB's advertising guidelines, you are instructed to remove immediately any of our Fallout 3 trailers from your website, pending further notice," writes Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines, "Thank you for your attention to this matter." The ESRB's "Principles And Guidelines For Responsible Advertising Practices" contain several line items related to graphic violence and mature content, like requiring advertising not "contain any content that is likely to cause serious or widespread offense," or contain "graphic and/or excessive depictions of violence." Fallout 3's E3 trailer in particular, for example, depicted an enemy head exploding in slow motion, visuals possibly flagged under the advertising guidelines prohibiting excessive violence and gore. A recent, highly visible Washington Post interview on the role of Washington DC in the game's post-apocalyptic climate might also have drawn unwanted attention from sensitive audiences otherwise unfamiliar with the game. The ESRB told Gamasutra it does not comment on enforcement actions. Awaiting comment from Bethesda, only speculation on the motives is possible without official clarification. It is also unclear whether Bethesda proactively elected to have the trailers taken down amid increased attention to the game on launch day, or whether it was asked to do so by the ESRB. In either scenario, the timing is notable, as Fallout 3 promotional video has been widely available across the web for some time without controversy.

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