Earlier this week, we reported on an IGN story that the ESRB had shot down publisher Deep Silver’s first box art submission for its upcoming zombie title, Dead Island. An alternate, ESRB approved version of the cover swapped out the silhouette of a hanging man with that of a shambling zombie. IGN has updated its original story with comments from the ESRB:
“The video game industry has set guidelines about the types of content that are appropriate in advertising and marketing materials, which includes game box art. According to those guidelines the depiction in the logo was not compliant.
We never censor or dictate in any way what type of content can be included within a game. However, a game's marketing materials are seen by an audience that is much broader than that which actually purchases the game itself, so we enforce industry-adopted guidelines as to what is suitable for inclusion in these materials.”
Checking out the ESRB’s website, it would appear that the original art did indeed run afoul of those guidelines. Here’s the pertinent bit from the ratings board’s examples of “content that publishers should avoid when creating qualifying advertising” (emphasis ours).
“Repeated blows or gun shots inflicted upon people/creatures, violent blows to the head, guns/weapons pointed at head, impaling, exploding body parts, guns/weapons pointed toward reader/audience, depictions of fatal injuries and/or suicide, strangulation/choking, inflicting wounds with swords/knives, kicks to the groin”
In similar news, the ESRB recently worked with Tecmo to ensure that the North American release of Dead or Alive Dimensions sported a cover that complied with its Advertising Review Council guidelines. Kasumi, the game's cover girl, now shows a bit less leg. Check out the difference over at aussie-nintendo.
[Disclosure: I freelance for IGN.]
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen