Bethesda responds to Oblivion rerating

Developer stands by its original ratings submission but will not contest the ESRB's decision.


Earlier today, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board announced that it had rerated The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for the PC and Xbox 360 as M for Mature. The ESRB said the game's developer, Bethesda Softworks, had failed to properly report the game's objectionable content when it submitted the game for rating.

Bethesda has now responded to the situation, issuing the following statement:

The ESRB has revoked their Teen rating for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for the PC and the Xbox 360 and has assigned the game a new rating of Mature. The ESRB reports that this is due to content in the game that was not fully disclosed when rating the game initially. Bethesda, not its co-publisher, developed the game, handled the ratings application before the ESRB, and stands behind it.

Bethesda will promptly implement the ratings change that the ESRB has ordered for Oblivion. We will not contest the ESRB's decision to re-rate the game as Mature, nor will we change the game's content to keep a Teen rating. We believe that this critically acclaimed game is not typical of Mature rated titles, and does not present the central themes of violence that are common to those products.

Bethesda will work with its co-publisher to place new "M" rating stickers on Oblivion packaging now at retail and in warehouses, and will reflect the change in rating on newly manufactured product. No product recall is being directed.

In light of the public comments that are being made about this matter, and to respond to questions we are being asked, we are releasing this statement to be on record about the circumstances giving rise to Oblivion's change in rating.

Bethesda Softworks made what it believes was a full, accurate, and comprehensive submission on Oblivion to the ESRB months before the game's release. Bethesda used the ESRB's application forms and believes it adhered closely to their requirements. Nothing was hidden from the ratings agency. No effort was made by Bethesda to lobby or influence the agency for any particular rating.

The ESRB has concluded that the game deserves a rating of Mature because: 1) partial nudity in the PC version of the game can be created by modders; and 2) the game contains excessive blood and gore that go beyond a Teen rating. The facts are as follows:

There is no nudity in Oblivion without a third party modification. In the PC version of the game only - this doesn't apply to the Xbox 360 version - some modders have used a third party tool to hack into and modify an art archive file to make it possible to create a mesh for a partially nude (topless) female that they add into the game. Bethesda didn't create a game with nudity and does not intend that nudity appear in Oblivion. There is no nude female character in a section of the game that can be "unlocked." Bethesda can not control tampering with Oblivion by third parties. Bethesda is taking steps to ensure that modders can not continue to hack into Oblivion's art archives to create partially nude figures.

With regard to violence, Bethesda advised the ESRB during the ratings process that violence and blood effects were "frequent" in the game - checking the box on the form that is the maximum warning. We further advised that the game contained occasional torture, vulgar acts, and gore. We gave accurate answers and descriptions about the type and frequency of violence that appears in the game. We submitted a 60-page document listing the explicit language, acts, and scenes in the game. Oblivion packaging already contains warnings for "Violence" and "Blood and Gore."

We value the role of the ESRB and believe the rating agency plays a valuable role in regulating our industry. As always, we will continue work in good faith to comply fully with the ESRB's standards and policies.

We remain enormously proud of Oblivion and the standard of excellence in game development it represents. Oblivion is one of the highest rated games of all time and one of the most popular games available on the Xbox 360 and the PC. We greatly appreciate the understanding and support of our fans.

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Avatar image for Neil__

They spit the dummy over topless . I wonder how they'd react if they saw sloth's erect male penis mod. Nude men with boners in Oblivion. Surely the existence of that mod means the game should be banned.

Avatar image for darkscorcher

when i buy an M rated game, i expect to see full frontal nudity, softcore, constant cursing and porn, or extreme gore it should not be rated M. when will people stop being such pu**ys

Avatar image for darkscorcher

I DONT VALUE THE ROLE of ESRB, the only game that should be rated M, is Soldier of fortune, and Postal, and GTA..maybe

Avatar image for farrett

Wesker216 "The ESRB are just doing their jobs. It's not like they have it out for Bethesda. I know I've heard some swearing in the game and it is based completely around the killing of other humanoids. That usually qualifies for Mature rating right there." First of all when do they swear in the game? Second of all most if not all rpgs are based on the "killing of other humanoids" and im sure there are plenty rated T. ESRB is doing their job but their overthinking it. I didnt even hear of the mod till the press release, if i owned the pc version this would make me wanna try it.

Avatar image for dsan224

omg, only the pc version has the nude mod, and yet they have to give the 360 version rated M? and then later knights of the nine, shivering isles, and oblivion on the ps3 mature also, because of a nude mod that is only on the pc? and also about the more blood and gore than ESRB thought, why don't they just watch the first oblivion trailer? when the emperor says "and the final hours, of my life" it shows a dungeon hall with a guy runnin, toward the screen, with 2 pools of blood on the ground. they should have known about how much blood there was from the start. i think this game doesn't deserve to be M, it isnt as violent as an average M game

Avatar image for shadowblade99

That's at total crock of $#!T!

Avatar image for analgrin

What an over reaction!!! They want to re-classify it because modders could change the content???? Better make all the games out there a mature rating then as they all can technically be changed by a modder. If i went to the cinema to watch shrek and shouted F*CK at the top of my voice halfway through would the film have to be re-classified to an 18 certificate? Idiots!!

Avatar image for JOECOOL_basic

you just spelled retard wrong...

Avatar image for MogGoth

come on, how many kids from 12-18 do not watch porn? and then they re-rate a game with minor content. Retarts.

Avatar image for lord-azrael

I wouldnt say this was all that violent,how I long for the golden age of years past were there was no age ratings,I remember buying Robocop vs Terminator the week before they brought in ages for games

Avatar image for Wesker216

The ESRB are just doing their jobs. It's not like they have it out for Bethesda. I know I've heard some swearing in the game and it is based completely around the killing of other humanoids. That usually qualifies for Mature rating right there.

Avatar image for rangeraa

what i want to know is how is the sims still rated teen? nude skins have been out for both the original and the new one since day one

Avatar image for AFWorm

I'm glad they have a good attitude about it.

Avatar image for NintendoWarrior

0_o there might b somthin going on with bethesda and the esrb seriously, rerate it for modding?

Avatar image for grimreaper6921

yes, if someone work hard enough on modding with a E rated game they could easily add nudity, just change some modles and textures. And boom a E rated game with nudity( not that a normal person would want to do sumptin like that) . But what imsaying is if u change the rating because of nudity reasons by 3rd party modders, u might as well change em all to M!

Avatar image for grim_fandango

Geez, the work of third-party moddersr shouldn't influence the game's rating. The game's rating is meant to be the rating of the game when it leaves the factory! Not after we tamper with files. Stupid. I suppose a M rating might be a bit more suitable in the blood area... But then what will us teens be technically allowed to play if a bit of blood means a M rating? Besides, television and movies have made us all partially immune to blood and gore by the time we get around to playing games like Oblivion.

Avatar image for gdogghenrikson


Avatar image for JL2K6

torture? gore? theres just some frikkin blood god... i freakin hate ESRB. they are way too strict about games. OMG nudity in the pc version! dont they realize that you could do that to any game? are they that stupid?

Avatar image for GrimGravy

ESRB are a buch of spineless beauracrats, maybe they would be happy if PC gaming got rid of mods all together.

Avatar image for vazzaroth

"partial nudity in the PC version of the game can be created by modders" Citing this as a reason for changing a rating is pathetic. By this logic, "The Sims" should be "M" rated becuse the player has the oppourtunity to put them in diffrent situations, as should any and all MMOs, becuse the "Game experiance may change online" idea. Basicly, the ESRB is penalizing everyone for a few players (Not developers) actions. Yet another attempt to legislate what is and isn't "good taste", which should be decided by the individuals, not the government or anyone else but yourself. Besides, a "T" would, in theory, keep the really small children away that it might actually affect. Not that prents seem to care about that, though.

Avatar image for crazylildude

if bethesda could stop the modding, then wouldn't ERSB have to change oblivian back to Teen? Wouldn't everyone like that? And anyway if ur younger than 18 cant u get ur parents to buy it for u? But what if they wont????

Avatar image for jimmyjoebob_jr

Well said Bethesda!

Avatar image for darkmaster578

I think it should have been rated M from the start.

Avatar image for tigerfan1993

geez, now i'll never be abl to play oblivion because of a gay download for nudity. man this sucks. couldnt bethseda release a version maybe without so much blood and gore? could they... COULD THEY! aah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just want to play the game for its qualty, gameplay, fun factor, and those other things. I could care less if a game has blood, if it has blood, fine. if it doesnt have blood, fine. they could do like jade empire did and let you have the option to turn blood on and off.

Avatar image for dim2192

Whats next? An M rating for Madden?

Avatar image for dim2192

The ESRB are morons

Avatar image for faeryben

Just to clarify... Contrary to what some keep claiming (unless of course Bethesda is simply outright lying to us all, which isn't outside the realm of possibility entirely of course,) this content was NOT in the game. The meshes had to be CREATED. i.e. did not already exist i.e. were NOT IN THE GAME. Lol. The components of the meshes were there; yes. However, on their own, without these disparate elements being combined and utilized in a fashion that is ONLY POSSIBLE using THIRD PARTY SOFTWARE, they were not depicting nudity. They had to be modified in order to depict nudity, and this is proven simply by the fact that the ESRB saw no way for any of the game's content to depict nudity during their analysis of the game. It wasn't possible without third party software, and if someone were to go into the game's art achives without this software, they would be incapable of seeing the content the ESRB has re-rated the game for. (At least the nudity.) This is a dangerous line of thinking that can lead to very complex problems for videogames and other art forms/forms of entertainment, because once you start saying "this deserves such and such a rating because while this content isn't in the game, various bits and pieces exist which - when combined - can create this content," you have to start questioning everything - even things that are 100% innocuous and innocent, and looking at them as potentially being part of something negative. Life itself, as a whole, is modular, evolving, and organic. The only way to truly eliminate this sort of thing would be for bodies like the ESRB to start rating and regulating life itself, and that is an exagerated but in essence still true, and very disturbing, thing to contemplate.

Avatar image for Ovakil

Ummmmmm... I guess it kinda deserves an M rating but who cares what I think?

Avatar image for alpha_company

Who cares as long as I can play it....hahahaaar

Avatar image for shadowtails_INF

the ESRB must be bored and looking for something to do.....Oblivion has Teen Violence and the nude modes are only there because of modders

Avatar image for Snipernator

ESRB took criticism for the GTA:SA thing and so they just want to cover themselves incase there actually is some file with the topless models already in there. "We further advised that the game contained occasional torture" = a few guys near the end of the game in a cage in lava saying "ooh ", "Ahh", Argh" this content is unacceptable as far as violence and gore its the same as mgs2 which got an M also

Avatar image for Snowcrash777

I think the ESRB are facists pigs and they should drop off the face of the earth. As a matter of fact..Thanks to thier little BS BF I'm going to either download some nude chicks for my game or moddel them myself :P

Avatar image for Shadowfire42

This is bad. Why would the ESRB do this? It's moders fault, not Bethesda. You don't see Neverwinter Nights being risen to M for stuff like that. I think it's this new idea that "The children of tomorrow need to be protected from violent games." that the ESRB has. It seems that a lot of games have been overrated lately.

Avatar image for desanvium

The ESRB is just trying to get its rocks off... and in the end, it's the game they'll remember, not the rating.

Avatar image for sharpielover4

this is so screwed up, it shouldnt be rated for the stuff that modders can put in it, yeah sure there is a lot of blood but its nothing like god of war or anything like that, oblivion doesnt deserve this new m rating

Avatar image for MrChocobo

I think re-rating the game for the nudity is silly, but the game's gore is quite strong. (You can see the brains and various body organs of many corpses. I think most people would think of that as R rated gore in a movie.) ESRB should have rated this M in the first place. Going nuts over two nipples is absolutely idiotic though. What's the big deal? Are people afraid young boys will find out that not just guys have nipples?

Avatar image for LordAndrew

I hope we've all reached an understanding now. :)

Avatar image for LordAndrew

The modders simply unlocked content already in the game.

Avatar image for leper99

Sounds like a case of the monkeys are running the zoo over at the ESRB. Its almost like saying Playdough should have an M rating because nudity can be created by modders. On a positive note though, I can

Avatar image for rodimus_prime85

What a pile of poop... Once again the topic of censorship is brought up by modders taking the game further then developers wish. If its content was T at time of submission then surely its not Bethesda fault that some sad cases can't get a GF and has to make naked skins for their 'characters'.... Hot Coffee anyone? And as for violence, any one seen the Anime Elfen Lied? Just been released in the US and UK via ADV films? Its the most violent Anime/Cartoon currently in Japan at the moment. Over here it recieved the 18 rating while in Japan it was 'only' 15 yrs and older. The reason for this was the violence was mostly blood. Bucket loads infact but besides that and a bit of nudity, the action was pretty tame and it wasn't like the tourture scenes of, say, Ichi The Killer. My point is this, A bit of blood and boobies isn't as bad as running around a city shooting people with an uzi and bizarre sex scenes that can only be found in dodgy H-rated games. We might not be as immune to sex and blood as the Japanese, but we're getting there.... Big middle finger to ESRB

Avatar image for ViolatedTerror

does this mean people with the box saying rated t for teen own a piece of history

Avatar image for Hellfire05

Rate the pc version "M" leave the 360 version at "T"

Avatar image for arsefacex

I COMPLETELY agree with Vash67! Don't be like those idiotic politicians that think they know everything...

Avatar image for arsefacex

ESRB has reached lower than imaginable.....yes there ARE modders out there, but COME ON, the nudity mod WAS NOT made by Bethesda's own hand.So STFU ESRB and just kill each other off for teeling us consumers what we do and don't want to see.

Avatar image for Vash67

The ESRB should have people that actually play the games and rate them by themselves. They are no better than all the politians and everyone who are criticising games for things that aren't meant to be in the games, like mods, and the violence that is openly admitted by the companies of the games.

Avatar image for Brom123

yeah pretty much every game modders can put nudity in of course no one wants to see putt putt goes wild

Avatar image for kaosprince

Just to point out that I think it should be rated M for those Dark Brotherhood quests because you can kill innocent people on those and there are some scenes with decapitated heads and dead bodies hanging on places.

Avatar image for mrzeld

we should get modders to make some 'naked' mods for childrens games and then get the ESRB to rate them all M. that will show just how stupid it is to rate a game based on what 3rd parties do to it. stupid, just stupid. Child: "Mommy, Mommy... i want that spongbob game!" Mother: "Sorry honey, but it is rated M."

Avatar image for comthitnuong


Avatar image for Grinch123456

There was a time when the ESRB was a good figure. It was created by the gaming industry as a form of self-regulation, and now, it's become rediculous. God damn it.