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GameStop VP Discusses Manhunt 2, ESRB, AO Ratings

GameStop VP Bob McKenzie has been discussing Manhunt 2, ESRB ratings, and the possibility of the retail giant ever stocking AO-rated titles in today's detailed
GameStop VP Bob McKenzie has been discussing Manhunt 2, ESRB ratings, and the possibility of the retail giant ever stocking AO-rated titles in today's detailed interview, commenting of an AO-rated Manhunt 2: "I can't say that we would have supported it at AO, and I can't say that we won't." The exchange was part of a larger interview that also dealt with the state of North America's biggest specialty game retailer going into 2007's holiday season, and the section discussing ratings is reprinted below in full: One of the biggest retail controversies, with something like Manhunt 2, is the ESRB rating system. Do you feel that it is effective for the consumers, and being executed well from the ESRB level? BM: It's a good question. I think it's very worthy that the ESA has taken this on. We definitely have undergone a campaign this fall, all the way up to our executive management, that we are part of the Respect the Ratings initiative. Being a parent myself, and having kids now that are coming of the age, I believe that it is the responsibility of the consumer. But I believe that it is our responsibility as an industry and as a retailer to educate the consumer that there are choices. That these things do mean something; for every game that is rated M, there is a reason that it is. We have put systems in place for any consumers who purchase M rated games, it prompts for an ID. You do that at point of sale? BM: Yes, we do. We initiated that several years ago. We take that very seriously, and communicate it very often to our associates. There was a point where Manhunt 2 was considered an AO game. Is an AO game something that you would consider selling if it came out? Is it something that you would consider carrying in your stores? BM: I think that it is an opportunity that we would have to look at on a case-by-case. In this situation, I'm glad that they went back, reworked it, and it will be M rated. I can't say that we would have supported it at AO, and I can't say that we won't. In the past, when there was an AO game such as Leisure Suit Larry [Magna Cum Laude] from a couple of years ago, GameStop wouldn't support that game in our retail stores. However, that was before the merger with Electronics Boutique, and EB did take the title into their retail stores. So, again, it is a situation that we have to take on a case-by-case. But I have to say that we prefer that the AO games are not anything that we are out there in the market looking for. What we are talking about is on the fringe. Console manufacturers won't manufacture an AO game anyway, so it is on the fringe. But moving forward, we can't really predict what will happen. BM: That's right. We see the opportunity, and we like it. Again, for me, I am glad that it's there. You don't know all of the games, and their reasons, whether it's language or violence or nudity within the game, they all have their points for being. And again, as a parent, that is where the consumer needs to know. 'OK, here are the choices, and do I really want my son or my daughter playing it. Is that OK?' Obviously it is if the parent buys it for them in the store. We won't sell it to anyone under 17.

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