In June, the British Board of Film Classification, which rates videogames for sale in the U.K., rejected Rockstar's upcoming Manhunt 2. While such action is extremely rare, the BBFC said the decision was unavoidable due to the game's "unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing."
Following that decision, an "e-petition" was created on the U.K. Prime Minister's website, requesting a government intervention to reverse the decision. E-petitions on this site are similar to other online petitions such as those hosted at PetitionOnline.com, but are reviewed for merit by the U.K. government. The e-petition system was launched in November 2006 and is currently still in public beta testing while the system is tweaked to accommodate users and address technical issues.
The petition, which garnered over 3000 signatures, read, "The BBFC have recently refused to rate the videogame "Manhunt 2". As such, adults in this country will never be allowed to play this game. Adults should be allowed to make their own decisions with regard to what videogames they want to play. We all understand that this game is extremely violent and unsuitable for children. As such an 18 rating should have been applied."
In response, the Government wrote, "The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) considers all works - whether film, video or game - submitted to it against a set of guidelines (available on its website - www.bbfc.co.uk). The guidelines take into account the law and also public opinion. This means that the guidelines can and do change periodically, reflecting changing public opinion. The BBFC considered Manhunt 2 and concluded that, within the current guidelines, it could not be given a classification. The BBFC takes its responsibilities very seriously and it uses its powers to reject works extremely rarely. Details can be found on its website. There is an appeals procedure which the game's producers are apparently pursuing. The Government is satisfied with the BBFC's procedure and with the provisions for appeal, and will not be intervening in this process. The Government has recently announced a review aimed at helping parents ensure that their children are protected from exposure to inappropriate material in games. This is not intended to restrict the choice of material available to adults."
Following the U.K. ban, Manhunt 2 received an Adults Only rating from the ESRB in North America, effectively banning its sale in that region as well. A modified version with some elements of the game removed was later submitted for consideration and was granted a Mature rating, clearing it for sale. The BBFC has not yet ruled on Rockstar's appeal of the ban or the updated version of the game.