DLC Can’t Exceed Game’s ESRB Rating
Ruling out the extreme possibility that Rockstar could at some point release a Hot Coffee mod for GTA IV, MTV Multiplayer has learned that the ESRB will not allow downloadable content to go beyond the limits of the game‘s original ESRB rating. So in other words, you’ll never see anything that would qualify as Adults Only in an M-rated game through the release of DLC.
This becomes more of an issue now that significant DLC releases — such as expansion packs, in the case of Oblivion with Shivering Isles, which was released through the Xbox Live Marketplace — are growing closer to the norm rather than the anomaly.
ESRB president Patricia Vance spoke at an MI6 Conference a few weeks ago, and explained the policy.
“If a game submits a game to us and it gets a teen rating and then wants to add downloadable content to that game in the future, which is obviously happening a lot today, they have to keep the content in the downloadable product consistent with the core rating. It can’t go out of bounds,” she said.
Should DLC go beyond those restrictions, the game would have to be re-rated. That would likely mean games getting pulled from store shelves, which costs time and money — in other words, something a business isn’t likely to let happen.
It could be portrayed as unfair, but the need to actually exceed the game’s original ESRB rating doesn’t seem like a situation that would arise all that often. Besides, the last thing we need is another reason for Jack Thompson to tell on Strauss Zelnick to his mom.