The US Entertainment Software Ratings Board has implemented changes that will impact the way Mature-rated (17 rated) games are advertised on the Internet.
Most notably, video games marketing will be following the lead of film. Publishers now have
an opportunity to produce and distribute trailers for Mature-rated games at a much larger general audience. As per green band trailers for movies, trailers suitable for all ages will have a green slate that airs before the trailer rolls,
and is required be on-screen for at least four seconds.
Such green band trailers will not require an age gate on websites, but have to be approved by the ESRB prior to release. Green band trailers will also be allowed for in-game promotions in
games with a lower rating.
This concession is not allowed for 18 rated, Adults Only games.
Another small change is that the ESRB will now allow promotional material to display both US ratings and international ratings such as PEGI. The
previous prohibition had undesirably resulted in international promotional material being stripped of rating information entirely.
The US games rating group, Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has announced three new badges describing online play.
The three new symbols show whether a game shares games location, other information and whether gamers interact.
The official explanations are:
Shares Info - Indicates that personal information provided by the user (e.g., e-mail address, phone number, credit card info, etc.) is shared with third parties
Shares Location - Includes the ability to display the
user's location to other users of the app
Users Interact - Indicates possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored user-generated content, including user-to-user communications and media sharing via social media and networks
The ESRB has also added 'Unrated' statements:
Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB - Warns those who intend to play the game online about possible exposure to chat (text, audio, video) or other types of user-generated content (e.g., maps, skins) that have not been considered in the
ESRB rating assignment
Music Downloads Not Rated by the ESRB - Warns that songs downloaded as add-ons for music-based games have not been rated and that their content has not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has introduced a new streamlined rating process for games that will only be sold and downloaded through console and handheld storefronts such as Microsoft Xbox LIVE Arcade, Nintendo Wii, or DSi™ Shop and
Sony PlayStation Store.
These games will receive the same recognizable ESRB ratings via a process whose efficiency and ease of use provides the scalability necessary to address the steady increase of games delivered digitally across an
ever-expanding multitude of new devices and outlets.
Publishers of these downloadable games will complete a different submission form than is used for all other games. The new form contains a series of multiple choice questions designed to assess
content across all relevant categories, such as violence, sexual content and language, among others. The questions also address important contextual factors such as the game's realism and visual style, its incentives (i.e., whether a certain action is
meant to be avoided or results in failure), the player's perspective (i.e., omniscient, distant or third person vs. immersed, close-up or first person), and more. The responses provided determine the game's rating, which is issued to the publisher as
soon as a DVD reflecting all disclosed content is received by ESRB.
All other types of games will continue to undergo the traditional rating process, which involves completion of a more open-ended questionnaire and review of a content DVD by a
minimum of three raters who reach consensus on the appropriate rating.
The ESRB rating process that has been in use since 1994 was devised before the explosion in the number of digitally delivered games and devices on which to play them. These
games, many of which tend to be casual in nature, are being produced in increasing numbers, by thousands of developers, and generally at lower costs, said ESRB president Patricia Vance. This new rating process considers the very same elements
weighed by our raters. The biggest difference is in our ability to scale this system as necessary while keeping our services affordable and accessible.
All games rated via this new process will be tested by ESRB staff shortly after they are
made publicly available to verify that disclosure was complete and accurate. In the event that content was not fully disclosed during this process, the rating displayed in the console or handheld store will be promptly corrected. In egregious cases of
nondisclosure – which include a deliberate effort to misinform the ESRB – the game and - more - all of its promotional materials will be removed from the store through which it is being sold, pending its resubmission to ESRB.
ESRB is a US trade organisation that assigns the age and content ratings displayed on all computer and video games, enforces marketing guidelines, and advises on online privacy issues.
EARLY CHILDHOOD (EC) Content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
EVERYONE (E) Content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may
contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
EVERYONE 10+ (E10+) Content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild
violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
TEEN (T) Content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling,
and/or infrequent use of strong language.
MATURE (M) Content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language. This
category is particularly designed to ensure that the most adult possible can be sold at many supposedly 'family friendly' retailers who refuse to stock adults only ttitles
ADULTS ONLY (AO) Content that should only be played by persons
18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity. Many US retailers refuse to carry AO titles
RATING PENDING (RP) Titles have been submitted to
the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)