Target pulls Manhunt 2 from shelves?

Retail chain reportedly stops stocking controversial Rockstar action horror game just a week after its release and despite ESRB approval.

RUMOR CONTROL: Source: A post on Evil Avatar stating that the poster's friend, a store-level Target employee, disclosed information about an internal memo saying the chain was to stop selling Take-Two Interactive's controversial action horror game.

What we heard: The Evil Avatar post about Target yanking Manhunt 2 made the rounds on a variety of sites, which generally repeated the blurb with a warning that it was little more than an unconfirmed rumor. On the surface, the skepticism with which the information was rereported seems warranted.

Retail employees are notorious spawning pools for bogus rumors, and the idea of Target pulling Manhunt 2 from its shelves a week after release made little sense. There was plenty of hype and public outcry about the game's violence and initial AO for Adults Only rating before Manhunt 2 came close to release, so having the retailer pull it pleading ignorance isn't really acceptable.

The surfacing of a hack for the PlayStation Portable edition of the game within hours of Manunt 2's official Halloween release could spur such a move, but the ESRB was quick to reconfirm the game's M for Mature rating. It also would be unusual to pull all versions of the game from store shelves, but to continue selling the only readily hackable version on the store's Web site, as Target was doing yesterday.

That said, it might have just taken some time for the memo to circulate. As of this afternoon, Manhunt 2 for the PSP was no longer listed on the chain's online store. Today, a rep for the retailer contacted GameSpot with the following statement:

The official story: "Target strives to provide merchandise that will appeal to a wide variety of guests. We also want guests to be comfortable with the purchasing decisions they make at Target. All video games and computer software sold at Target currently carry ratings by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)--from early childhood through mature audiences. While Manhunt 2 was given a Mature rating by the ERSB, we received additional information that players can potentially view previously filtered content by altering the game code. As a result, we have decided not to carry the game."

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

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