Watchdog pops a cap in Grand Theft Auto

Production ceased after AO rating blow

The US's Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has bowed to pressure from various sources - including parental groups and Hillary Clinton - to reclassify Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as Adult Only (AO). It was previously rated as a teen-friendly M (mature).

The whole GTA rumpus was provoked by Dutch modder Patrick Wildenborg whose "Hot Coffee" mod unlocked XXX material included on the disc but kept from prying eyes by the game's "censor flag". There's more background in our previous report, but suffice it to say the polemic centred around whether Wildenborg had actually modified the game, or simply made a previously hidden part of GTA visible.

The distinction is important, because if the smut was unleashed by a mod, then GTA's makers - Take 2 - could claim they were innocent of punting filth to minors.

As the controversy rumbled on last week, Hillary Clinton jumped on the outrage bandwagon - a move which seems to have settled the matter, despite ESRB prez Patricia Vance's previous assertion that Hot Coffee was a mod and therefore "not an inherent feature of the game".

Take 2 has decided, amid rumours that major US retail chains - including Wal-Mart - would pull GTA: San Andreas from the shelves, to cease production of the game. The company expects to take a major financial hit as a result of the decision. ®

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