Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. said on Thursday it has suspended plans to sell Manhunt 2 after the title was slapped with restrictive ratings for its extreme violence.
The game, developed by the same Take-Two studio behind the controversial Grand Theft Auto and Bully titles, had originally been scheduled for a July 10 release.
Take-Two said it temporarily suspended distribution plans for the game while it reviewed its options following the banning of the game in Britain and a U.S. ratings body decision to give it an Adults Only rating.
The rating would prevent its release on game machines made by Sony Corp. and Nintendo Co. Ltd.
We continue to stand behind this extraordinary game. We believe in freedom of creative expression, as well as responsible marketing, both of which are essential to our business of making great entertainment, Take-Two said in a statement.
Manhunt 2 casts the player in the role of a psychotic man who escapes a mental institution and kills enemies with a variety of weapons and objects as he tries to find out what happened to his family.
Take-Two's statement followed comments from Chairman Strauss Zelnick on Wednesday saying he fully backed the game and considered it a work of art.
The company's options include canceling the game entirely, releasing it unchanged only for personal computers -- a move that would drastically limit sales -- or altering its content to achieve a less-restrictive rating.
Manhunt 2 was originally expected to bring in about $40 million in sales for Take-Two, which had just over $1 billion in total revenue last year, according to Wedbush Morgan research.
Take-Two shares fell 4 cents to $20.61 on Nasdaq on Thursday.