Manhunt is one of many series that Rockstar has left behind. The game’s controversy and headaches are just too much for the company to ever revisit.
The original Manhunt was released to generally favorable critical reviews and tons of controversy. The sequel followed that up a few years later with worse reception, but even more controversy. Before the game was even able to launch, Rockstar Games had to make several changes to lower the game’s ESRB rating from Adults Only (AO) to Mature (M). Since then, Rockstar has seemingly changed directions, and has yet to really make any noise about a potential Manhunt 3.
There are several reasons why Rockstar might decide to leave the franchise behind. Most likely, the headache it would likely have to endure in making another Manhunt just isn’t worth it. Remember, Manhunt 2 was effectively banned in the United States because of its initial AO rating. For a company as bold as Rockstar, having to compromise that game’s vision to bring the rating down likely left a bad taste in the developer’s mouth. And for a company swimming in money from Shark Cards, it just might not be worth any potential PR hits.
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On top of that, the second Manhunt game wasn’t very good. The first game was far from the game-changer other Rockstar titles like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption have been, but the sequel only regressed. By introducing guns, it stripped away a lot of what made the original game so captivating. No longer were players sneaking their way through areas filled with enemies that wanted to murder them. Now, they could more easily fight back, taking away that tension. The sequel story also took a major step back and presented a troublesome look at mental illness that hasn’t aged well and certainly wouldn’t work today.
Why Rockstar Hasn’t Revisited Manhunt
Even if the first two games were both successful and only generated Grand Theft Auto levels of controversy, it’s hard to imagine Rockstar taking another stab at Manhunt. The company has, over the last few years, moved from linear games to live-service titles. Grand Theft Auto Online took the world by storm when it launched and Rockstar is slowly trying to do the same with Red Dead Online. While they may eventually release Grand Theft Auto 6, it seems unlikely that they’ll look to any property that they can’t build a community around.
Manhunt, for everything it did well, probably doesn’t fit in with that current direction. There could be potential in a Manhunt-themed battle royale, perhaps, but even that seems highly unlikely given how quickly the genre has filled up in recent days. Manhunt‘s brand of slow-paced murder might also not be the best fit, and could require too much patience of some players.
This combination of factors makes it tough to imagine that Rockstar would revisit Manhunt in any capacity. Rockstar could probably find a way to make a great reimagining if it tried, but the potential headaches and difficulty in further monetization avenues mean that players are unlikely to ever find out.
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