Microsoft and the ESRB have informed Gamasutra that the delay of Halo 2
's Vista retail release was caused by an "unfortunate, obscure content error" containing a photo showing a "bare backside," warranting 'partial nudity' warnings to be added to the game's packaging.
The game, which was scheduled for release
this week, was pushed back by a week, following what Microsoft said was "a result of updates to retail packaging."
Questioned further, Microsoft explained the situation in the following statement to Gamasutra:
"It has come to our attention that an unfortunate obscure content error which includes partial nudity was included in our initial production of Halo 2 for Windows Vista.
As such, we have updated the initial game packaging at retailers with a label, so customers are aware before purchasing the game. Additionally, we've developed an online update which can be downloaded from www.halo2.com to remove the content.
Game packaging will only be labeled for the initial run of games; subsequent shipments will not include the content.
As a result of updates to retail packaging, Halo 2 for Windows Vista will now ship from manufacturers on May 31. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers.
At Microsoft we take the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) guidelines very seriously and hold ourselves to high standards, with our customers always in mind.
The ESRB has also sent a statement detailing the 'content error,' stating:
"After the M (Mature 17+) rating assignment was issued for Halo 2 for Vista and just prior to the shipment of the game to retail, Microsoft notified ESRB about pertinent content found in a map editor tool that is being bundled with the game.
The content in question, although likely to be inaccessible to the vast majority of users, displays a photograph of an individual showing his bare backside to the user when a particular error occurs, and thus warrants a 'Partial Nudity' content descriptor in order to alert consumers to its presence in the product.
Microsoft has therefore applied stickers with correct ESRB rating information to the packaging of virtually all copies that will ship to retail in the U.S. and Canada. We have been advised by Microsoft that future runs of the game will be produced without the content in question, thus negating the need for the descriptor to be displayed on those versions.
ESRB's job is to ensure that games are appropriately labeled, and that is precisely what we did in this case. We greatly appreciate Microsoft's cooperation in this matter.