Both companies have policies that forbid the release of Adults Only rated games on their consoles in North America. The ESRB slapped an AO rating on the game on Tuesday, close on the heels of bans in the U.K. and Ireland. The refusal to approve the game for release on the PlayStation, PSP and Wii consoles will further compound Rockstar’s already difficult situation with the AO rating: most major retailers in the U.S. refuse to stock AO-rated games, severely curtailing the game’s potential sales.
Although the ESRB rating has been issued, it is not yet carved in stone. Rockstar has 30 days to either modify the game and resubmit it for a new rating, or appeal the decision with the game in its current state. The company has yet to indicate what its next action will be, but presumably it will take steps to seek a Mature rating for the game, via either process. In its initial response to the ESRB rating, Rockstar said game ratings should help people make informed choices, not limit them, and that it believed an M rating would be more appropriate.