[UPDATE] ESRB bumps up game's rating from T for Teen, says Bethesda failed to properly report objectionable content in ratings submission.
Take-Two Interactive may not have a follow-up for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas yet, but it appears the publisher does have a pseudo-sequel to that game's Hot Coffee scandal on its hands.
The Entertainment Software Ratings Board today issued a parental advisory that it has changed the rating of Take-Two subsidiary 2K Games' hit role-playing game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for the PC and the Xbox 360. (Inital reports indicated that only the PC version of the game had been re-rated.) Originally released with a rating of T for Teen, the game has now been rerated M for Mature, due to "more detailed depictions of blood and gore than were considered in the original rating, as well as the presence of a locked-out art file or 'skin' that, if accessed through a third-party modification to the PC version of the game, allows the user to play with topless versions of female characters."
Before the game was rerated, Pete Hines of Oblivion developer Bethesda Softworks discussed the mod with GameSpot. "Obviously we have a pretty big, and active, mod community for the PC version, and there are some gamers who hacked into Oblivion's art archive files and modified them to create a nude upper female torso in the game," Hines said. "We can't control and don't condone the actions of anyone who alters the game so that it displays material that may be considered offensive. We haven't received any complaints on the issue from anyone."
The ESRB is adding a "nudity" content descriptor to the PC version of the game "until it can be re-mastered and released with the topless skin removed."
[UPDATE]: As for how Oblivion escaped the ratings process with an improper rating the first time around, the ESRB pointed the finger at Bethesda. When a company submits a game to be rated, it is required to provide the ESRB with a video tape "showing the most extreme content and an accurate representation of the context and product as a whole."
After discovering the issues in "post-release monitoring and play-testing," the ESRB initiated a review of the game's original ratings process. The board cross-examined the tape Bethesda submitted with video taken from the final release of the game, and ultimately determined that the developer understated the detail and intensity of the blood and gore in the game. In reference to the nude skin, which is inaccessible during normal play and so couldn't have been included in the taped submission, the ESRB said publishers are required "to disclose locked-out content during the rating process if it is pertinent to a rating," and that Bethesda failed to do so.
As a result, the ESRB said a number of corrective actions are being taken regarding the matter. Bethesda will notify retailers of the rating change, provide stores and distributors with M-rating stickers for all unsold copies of the game, and preparing new packaging with the proper rating and content descriptors for future copies of the game. Bethesda will also prepare a downloadable patch to modify the game's art archive and make the topless skin inaccessible, even on a modded PC version of the game.
Shortly after the ESRB parental advisory was issued, Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association president Hal Halpin sent out his own statement about the re-rating. Halpin called the resulting change in sales policy for the game "immediate," and said a number of major retailers had already changed their systems so cashiers would be prompted to ask for ID when copies of Oblivion were scanned.
"Of note in this matter is the speed at which retailers reacted and parents were empowered," Halpin said. "Ultimately that is what makes any ratings system effective in the end."
A Take-Two representative deferred GameSpot's questions regarding the matter to Bethesda, but did say that the company doesn't expect the re-rating to have a financial impact on its operations.
Although I understand why they changed Oblivion to M, I don't like the reasoning. There are nude mods for almost every single game ever. And since the mods aren't actually part of the game, ESRB should not have changed the game's rating.
Ughhh, my parents allowed me to play Morrowind because it's T. But now, I can't play the next chapter in the series because of some dumb mods. Flippin' whacked up...
This game deseves an M rating. The amount of blood in the arena, Lucien Lachance's death are not things that could be shown in a T game.
this is just crap, if ESRB was serious than ALL games would be rated M because someone or another would create a mod with nudity
My mom doesn't let me get this game for xbox 360 because its rated M but im starting to convince by telling her about how it should be rated t ^_^
i have played morrowind, and oblivion, and ok, oblivion has some more blood and gore, but not enough to change it to M :[
This was simply a publicity stunt by the ESRB to please conservative parents and politicians. To me, it sounds like Bethesda accurately described the game's violence, and the fact that the ESRB changed the rating based on a mod is stupid. They know that everyone else thinks mods shouldn't be accounted for in a game's rating, so they are simply trying to blame Bethesda for their weak attempt at avoiding controversy. Anyways, Uncharted is probably comparable to Oblivion with regards to content (violence and language), and it's rated T. In fact, some consider Oblivion milder (in Australia, Oblivion has a lower rating than Uncharted, and the Australian rating system is far stricter than the ESRB).
So, that's why I was playing the game and thinking "What nudity?" All the women still have their underwear on, unless you can access the topless skin. I actually have the GOTY PC edition which doesn't have the nudity on the box as part of the rating by the ESRB. It still has the hanging bodies and the blood and gore and language though. It makes it a bit more realistic then Morrowind. When you chop something with an axe, they be chopped and should have some blood and gore. So, it's stll M rated, just without the optinal topless women.
360 version should still be T because you cant mod it and the language isnt bad and the hanging body which the ERSB board considered gore(well it is but thats one thing) so it should'nt have changed
@ Mr Versipellis I think he meant that the 360 version couldn't be modded. At least, that's what would make more sense.
The stupidest thing about this was that even if the skin wasn#'t excluded there'd have been nude mods out within hours... Even Morrowind's most popular mod has a nude option (called "Better Bodies") BTW 360 people, get your facts right. The PC version CAN be modded. I'd know. I'm a big TES fanboy and a modder.
God, this is unfair. Oblivion's one of my favorite games for the 360. You can't really mod it, so why change the rating? Thanks a lot, ESRB.
This is a joke...what if some moron made nude females...doesn't mean we have to play the game with the mod.
that was pretty stupid when on other games they say online content is not rated. and guys if you look at the disc it still says teen
They should've kept the T rating with the 360 version. Mods can't affect it, therefore, there is no reason to rate it M...
Stupid pervs! Now it's going to be ough to find the T rated version so my parents can let be play it. Why do people have to be so perverted?
What the hell... Now i cant convince my parents to let me get the game because of perverted people who have to screw with the game. I agree exactly with RoC1909. Mods shouldn't affect the ratings at all.
obviously the ESRB people arent computer whizes and only know how to rate games... and annoy people too...
I think they should have kept the Teen Rating but rather put a warning sticker on every copy of the game alerting parents the Blood & Gore may be a little higher than they expect for a Teen Rated Game.
Morrowind is just as bad as Oblivion you can find tons of mods on the internet that would make it an AO game. Games should be rated on original content not 3rd party content
that's sad. now some kid won't get to enjoy the wonderfulness of oblivion because his mommy saw the rating says "nudity". and it's something he would never even be able to see anyways.
its a mod that is 100% out of bethesdas control i cant believe the esrb dosnt get that. A mod is something created by the player which shouldnt be given a rating. The game it self is created by the developers which should be rated.
Exact same thing as the Hot Coffee thing. Normal players(I think I speak for 90% of the buyers of GTASA/Oblivion console versions) can't access that kind of stuff, and if they are able, that's for their own personal... Joy. Like, that hacker from the Netherlands who discovered the Hot Coffee file after digging around in places normal players can't digg around in... Does that mean that EVERYONE has to suffer(can't think of a different word) because of a few skilled hackers? Why all this trouble when only a handfull of guys can access it?
This is why I hate the esrb...they need to get it right the first time...I beleive RoC1909 has a very good point !
If a player could not access the so called 'offensive content' without having to make a program OR modify some settings that wouldn't 'ordinarily' be modified by the user, then the T rating should have stuck. I am SICK AND TIRED of these idiots modifying a game to have offensive content (and to get their OWN jollies) and then lawmakers coming in and screwing with the company. This is like buying a car, modifying the engine so that it only goes 150mph using TOOLS and PARTS that I MYSELF created. Taking said car out on the road, killing 100 people and then blaming the car company for the accident(s)......or......taking my handgun and placing it in the parking lot of the apartment I live in. Having some dumb ass person come by, pick it up and kill 15 people with it and then blaming the gun manufacturers. When are people going to be held accountable for their own actions?!?! If I shoot somebody, it's MY FAULT. If I spill hot coffee on myself while driving, maybe I shouldn't be drinking when I drive (which should be at all times.) If I create a MOD for a video game that shows all the women naked, it's MY FAULT! But again, this is the reason we have blood sucking lawyers. To get a person PAID when something happens and is THEIR OWN fault!!
Something is wrong when a game full of machine guns and such is supposed to be better for teens than a skin of a topless woman.
@ PrivateJessard, they do make the skins, put the skins are covered by other textures (their clothes) modders found a way to modify the appearence of the character, honestly i dont think its Bethesda's fault, they sent a tape of what is actually viewable at the time, thats like yelling at microsoft for you getting a virus, it's not there fault some one spent a **** load of time making mod/hacking it...
Why would they change it to M because of a skin? It's a skin. It's not like the creators of the game made the skin. Couldn't you do that to any game?
"As I stand there, watching hack these violent video games, even helpless to look at the ratings, I can't help but wonder....where the system has phailed" - my dad I mean seriously. Y?
Gadwin is right. You can probably hack the characters in a children's educational game and the morons will consider it to be rated AO.
Thats just ridiculous. ESRB is a bunch of total nubs. Locked out content should have NOTHING to do with a rating. If you want to make a rating based on what someone has to do something through a third party program, set up an additional rating system for that. See how many games would get the M or AO rating because some third party thing adds in nudity or something. Its so retarded. Just like Jack Thompson.
my boxed version has the 'T' on it for TEEN, I guess it's a collector's item now due to the overreacting idiot masses...:P
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