ESRB: ‘Dead Island’ Box Art Too Inappropriate for North America

Published 4 years ago by , Updated March 23rd, 2011 at 10:04 am,

Dead Island Box Art Censored by ESRB

Since the release of a rather graphic trailer in February this year, Dead Island has certainly had its fair share of buzz.

While the hype may have died down a little in recent weeks – hype is often followed by a splash of controversy. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) have decided it necessary to censor the original box art for Dead Island in North America because of the corpse/zombie that is shown hanging from a tree on the cover.

The North American cover will now feature a more zombie looking figure that is alive (kind of) – as well as, more importantly, not hanging from a rope. However, the in-game logo will remain the same, according to IGN.

The ESRB released the following statement:

The video game industry has set guidelines about the types of content that are appropriate in advertising and marketing materials, which includes game box art. According to those guidelines the depiction in the logo was not compliant.

We never censor or dictate in any way what type of content can be included within a game. However, a game’s marketing materials are seen by an audience that is much broader than that which actually purchases the game itself, so we enforce industry-adopted guidelines as to what is suitable for inclusion in these materials.

dead island box art

The move will have zero effect on the gameplay for Dead Island, but it’s sure to upset some folks who think that the ESRB is perhaps a tad over-sensitive. Their reasoning behind censoring the box art is to clearly prevent insulting retailers who may offended by the hanging figure – and subsequently wouldn’t carry the title (which is bad for business).

This isn’t the first time the ESRB has enforced changes to box art, they censored the box art for Valve’s Left for Dead 2 back in 2009 – because of missing fingers on the mauled hand.

left for dead 2 box art uncensored

The Uncensored Left for Dead 2 Box Art (with Valve writer Chet Faliszek)

This could be good news, in a way, as the fact that the ESRB has stepped in could mean that Deep Silver is almost ready to give an official release date for the “first-person zombie-slasher/action-RPG,” as it is described by developer Techland. Before games go gold, the ESRB has to play through and rate them – so it could be the case that the team is clearing the final obstacle in any game’s development process.

We certainly hope this is the case, the trailer for Dead Island was striking, both visually and emotionally, and despite some lackluster screen images, we can’t wait to explore the island of Banoi, the setting for Dead Island and see if the game can live up to the huge expectations that the trailer has given.

What do you think about the decision to change the box art: over sensitive or sensible? Are you still looking forward to Dead Island? Let us know in the comments.

Dead Island is scheduled for release in 2011 on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

Source: IGN

TAGS: Dead Island, Deep Silver, PC, PS3, Techland

  • Anthony

    I don’t know why you would hang a zombie anyways. That’s the least efficient killing method.

    • Steve

      Maybe the zombie had already been “killed” and your just hanging it as a warning of some kind.
      Just throwing that out there

    • Joel

      I saw it more as someone trying to escape becoming a zombie. They’d already been bit or lost all their family and friends so a quick death had a much better longterm effect.

      • Andrew Dyce

        That’s what I thought too. That’s all kinds of depressing, so im not surprised theyre changing it.

  • Joel

    I think it is sensible enough. Though asking that a sticker be placed of the exterior packaging would have been a good solution as well. Looks like they may have even seen this coming as the replacement looks pretty well thought out and executed. Excuse the pun.

  • madeup6

    Lol that’s actually a good thing. Pretty freakin disturbing seeing someone hanging themselves so they don’t become a zombie. (if what Joel says is true)

    • Steve

      Lol So I guess saving yourself from becoming a mindless zombie, forced to live the rest of your days trying to find, and kill, other people for their brains isn’t ok.
      The ESRB: Promoting the zombie lifestyle one game box at a time.

      • Andrew Dyce


  • MyOpinion

    Think about stopping a zombie from attacking by hanging it in a tree. It would use the least amount of matterial to secure one. Say all you have is rope, how do you stop the attacks.

  • duskclaw

    all i think of esrb is that they are a bunch of liberal, communist, a******s who thing that every thing a little depressing or “too” gorey needs to be changed to somthing less repressing, all i can say is its the damn truth life has depressing moments get over it esrb GET OVER IT AND CHANGE IT BACK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!