Gory game Manhunt 2 can legally be sold to UK consumers as a download, despite the refusal of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to grant the title a certificate for sale as a physical product in shops.
The latest twist to the tale of the controversial title is the result of a loophole in the UK's 1984 Video Recordings Act, spotted by Phill Carnell, a lawyer with legal firm CMS Cameron McKenna, and revealed to Register Hardware.
Downloaded games, he said, do not need an age-suitability classification, such as 15 or 18, because the Act, which mandates the BBFC's certification programme and forces retailers to obey the classifications, only covers physical products.
A BBFC spokeswoman confirmed that if Manhunt 2 publisher Take-Two Interactive chose to sell the game online as a download then "that would be legal and not contravening the Video Recordings Act". She added that some games are already sold this way without a BBFC rating, but that most developers choose to have their games classified because selling a physical product is more profitable.
Carnell said the loophole is "ridiculous and dated", but that Take-Two is probably aware of it. However, he claimed the company may choose not to exploit the opportunity because the likes of Sony and Nintendo are likely only to allow onto their consoles games that carry a BBFC rating.
Manhunt 2 has been refused a classification by the BBFC on two occasions because of its "unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone", combined with encouragement of "visceral killing" and "casual sadism".
However, the game was granted a Mature (M) rating – for gamers aged 17 or over - in the US, where it goes on sale on 29 October.
Take-Two and the game's developer, Rockstar Studios, were unavailable for comment.
News source: Register Hardware