The ESRB has officially decided to change the rating on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas from M for Mature to AO for Adults Only. Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB, commented, "After a thorough investigation, we have concluded that sexually explicit material exists in a full rendered, unmodified form on the final discs of all three platform versions of the game." She also expressed concern that "the credibility and the utility of the initial ESRB rating has been seriously undermined."
The ESRB has also changed it’s ratings system to include "every bit of information that may affect a game’s rating, including things not intended for access".
After denying they created the Hot Coffee mod of the game and blaming it on everyone or anything else plausible like modders or an action replay, Rockstar has finally admitted that sex scenes were originally in the disc but were never meant to be seen by players (did they really think we would never ever find it?). They said the scene was never finished (hence, the man never taking his clothes off during the whole interaction) but left in the disc.
Rockstar and Take-Two have agreed to fully comply with the ESRB. They have already stopped producing the disc and working to create a game that will comply with the M rating. They have sent AO stickers to retailers that desire to continue carrying the game.
Yet, many retailers have already pulled the games from their shelves. If you are looking for GTA:SA, you will no longer find it at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys "R" Us, Comp USA, EB Games, or Gamestop, among others. But don’t worry, we are sure you can find about a billion copies on Ebay if you so desire.
Best Buy has issued a statement that states, "Best Buy is immediately taking steps to remove all copies of the now AO-rated game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" from all of our North American stores...Best Buy is a strong proponent of the ESRB ratings system...With our decision...we hope to send a strong message to game developers encouraging full cooperation with the ESRB. " Best Buy believes customers should always be able to make informed decisions and the label on GTA:SA was misleading.
It looks like this story may be coming to a close soon. You know, after Jack Thompson condemns the video game industry a few more times, politicians rant and rave to pass legislation, and Rockstar issues an apology (okay, I’m not counting on that one. They are still blaming game modders for accessing the info). We will keep you updated so keep checking back.