Madmind Studios will censor horror game Agony to appease ESRB

By Cal Jeffrey · 11 replies
Apr 23, 2018
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  1. It appears that the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is threatening Madmind Studio with an AO (adults only) rating on its Hell-ride horror game Agony. The game features graphic violence, gore and nudity. An AO rating would mean that the title could not be released on PlayStation and Xbox platforms.

    In addition to promising to produce “the most terrifying vision of hell in the history of gaming,” Madmind also vowed that it would release Agony on PC, PS4, and XB1. The studio is determined not to break its Kickstarter promises, so it has been working with the ESRB to “modify” scenes just enough to guarantee an M rating.

    “For many months we have been conducting interviews with age-rating companies in order not to cut out entire scenes from the game but at the same time modify it enough (e.g. just slightly changing the camera's frame) to get an M (Mature) rating instead of AO (Adult-Only) rating. AO rating means that the game could not be released on PS4 and Xbox One, and we would not keep the promise made on the Kickstarter.”

    The developers do not necessarily agree with the ESRB. In fact, they believe this is institutional censorship and say as much in their update notes. For that reason, they have let it be known that once the game launches, they will be releasing an “optional patch” for the PC that will replace all the content that was censored.

    Unfortunately, they cannot do the same for consoles thanks to Sony’s and Microsoft’s tight control on their respective platforms.

    “We would love to do something similar for consoles, but from a technical and legal point of view it is simply not possible,” said Madmind developers.

    Because of that, they are allowing Kickstarter backers who chose to receive a console version of the game to switch their pre-order to PC if they wish.

    That said, Madmind says that the changes are mostly framing and angle edits that do not detract from the game’s most terrifying elements.

    “We are going to deliver everything we promised,” said the devs. “Every single piece of what you already saw will appear in the game uncensored. There are a few things which none of you have seen, that needed an extra touch (censoring). But there's really no worries. There will be blood, there will be gore, there will be nudity.”

    How the ESRB handles news of the patch is anybody’s guess. I cannot imagine the board will be pleased that Madmind plans to remove censorship on PC after publication, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot that they can do about it. Unless the ESRB files an injunction to stop the patch before it is released, once it is out there it will be too late to pull it back.

    Agony is slated for a May 29 release on PC, Xbox one, and PlayStation 4.

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,827   +2,158

    Games like Agony and Scorn are in the league of their own.

    They need a new rating category: "Not suitable outside of mental wards."
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
    Reehahs and Uncle Al like this.
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,983   +3,989

    Called it.

    Also...

    How the ESRB handles news of the patch is anybody’s guess. I cannot imagine the board will be pleased that Madmind plans to remove censorship on PC after publication, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot that they can do about it. Unless the ESRB files an injunction to stop the patch before it is released, once it is out there it will be too late to pull it back.

    If the ESRB tries to prevent an optional patch that's separate from the retail version of the game and exclusive to PC, they can go and $%^% themselves with demon-themed sex toys.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  4. seefizzle

    seefizzle TS Evangelist Posts: 362   +239

    It's such a shame that game makers can't simply ignore the ratings systems and build the games to whatever spec they feel like. It sucks that games are proverbially tied to kid's playing them, thus needing to be watered down. One of my favorite games of all time is Manhunt. That game was brutal and awesome and violent as all get out. They couldn't even make that game now if they wanted to.

    I will absolutely buy Agony just to support the devs.
     
    ForgottenLegion and alabama man like this.
  5. Badvok

    Badvok TS Addict Posts: 202   +85

    I wonder whether this game is actually going to be any good. Always sceptical about companies who use the Banned/Restricted promotional angle.
     
  6. alabama man

    alabama man TS Guru Posts: 446   +286

    If they sell AO version somewhere I will buy it, not supporting censored version even if I can patch it to work. Shame all stores are for kids even when most of the customers are adults. As games are all digital now they should just sell it on their own site without the approval of esrb or any other bullshit organization. I can buy saw movies from almost any store, why not this game?

    "that needed an extra touch (censoring)"

    Yup they are part of the problem, just say esrb made you censor ****. Saying censoring is "extra touch" makes them look like they work for the esrb. If this is their mentality toward censoring I lost all interest in this game and all their future products. Keep your kid friendly "horror" game, I already have spooky's jump scare mansion.
     
  7. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,983   +3,989

    I played the demo spring of last year. They’ve done little to demonstrate much beyond atmosphere and shock horror, so I’m skeptical as well. Given all the delays (there have been three, iirc), I’m thinking this could turn out like Hatred—big on controversy mediocre on delivery.
     
  8. Mighty Duck

    Mighty Duck TS Booster Posts: 93   +45

    I don't get it. We have seen detailed graphic violence in Mortal Kombat X. We have seen nudity in God of War 3 (very detailed breasts and butts) and GTA IV (a guy penis was very visible).

    Why some games can get away with it and others don't?
     
  9. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +430

    Amount, context, and the almighty "best judgment" of whomever is doing the rating.
     
  10. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,983   +3,989

    Well... In their defense, GTA V and MKX don't have lesbian demon chicks making out and having sex with the damned while gorging on shredded flesh. So there's that.
     
  11. Mighty Duck

    Mighty Duck TS Booster Posts: 93   +45

    So if I were to make a "Gynecologist Simulator 2018" game, with full and very detailed nudity, it shouldn't have any problem because of context LOL.
     
  12. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,983   +3,989

    Step 1: Get VirtaMed to sign on.

    Step 2: Design it for PSVR.

    Step 3: Tell the ESRB it is strictly for medical professionals.

    Step 4: Wear your best troll face because...

    Step 5: E for Everyone.
     

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