Last month Madmind Studio, the developers behind Agony (the survival-horror game set in hell) made headlines last month when it revealed that it planned to skirt around an Adults Only rating for PC by uploading an uncensored patch after the game’s release. This was intended to be a compromise for Madmind to offer players uncensored content on at least one platform given that AO-rated games aren’t released on console. The announcement sparked a debate about the effectiveness of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and whether or not such a move undermined the ESRB.
The answer seems to be somewhat moot, given that Madmind announced that it will not be releasing the patch due to “legal issues,” per the statement on the game’s Steam forums:
Secondly, due to legal issues, we are not going to be able to release the Adult Only patch. However, that content does not affect the game in any significant way because the deleted material that was supposed to be added in the latest version of the patch is from two endings (out of seven) and some scenes that may be unlocked only after the end of the game. We are going to publish a comparison video on May 30th, 2018 so you will not miss out on anything.
Please bear in mind that leaving this content uncensored would result in the game being banned and us, Madmind Studio, being sued. That would simply lead to the studio being closed. Obviously, we don’t want this to happen and we hope that you understand it.
You can read the whole (NSFW) announcement right here.
Agony is out later today on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
More than anything, this seems like an embarrassment for Madmind. I wonder if the developer hadn’t announced its plans to release an uncensored patch and just did it quietly, if the ESRB or anyone else would have cared. It seems likely that a modder will simply stick the removed bits back in anyway at some point. In the end, this all feels like a chance for the ESRB to showcase some questionable flex when it comes to regulating content in the digital space.