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Will PEGI make it into law this year?

"Complex work is ongoing," insists DCMS; Industry sources hopeful of Christmas resolution

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has admitted that "complex technical points" are behind the ongoing delay to legal implementation of PEGI age-ratings for video games in the UK.

"We are working to put the scheme into implementation as soon as possible," a DCMS spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz, without offering a revised timetable.

Negotiations between the Government overseen personally by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey UKIE, the Video Standards Council, and current statutory ratings body the BBFC, are understood to be at a "delicate" stage. But sources familiar with the matter said there was optimism that the system could still be passed into law "by Christmas".

The DCMS added: "There have been a number of complex technical points where detailed work has been needed to reach a solution that works for all sides.

"Clearly, we want to have a scheme that works for industry but it must also work for regulators, for those involved in enforcement and especially for consumers."

As revealed by GI.biz in January, a complicated debate over packaging regulations had thrown a spanner in the works, with the BBFC's role in particular requiring definitive clarification.

The main sticking point remains the issue of "linear" (i.e. trailer) content, which regulations require is rated by the BBFC, though there is growing confidence that resolution is finally in sight.

Once proposals are agreed on all-sides, European ratification will then be required, which is expected to take a further three months.

The delay has been a source of ongoing frustration for the games industry, with the PEGI scheme part of the Digital Economy Act, which passed in April 2010, while calls for a change to the system stretch back to recommendations made in the 2008 Byron Review.

But as one source close to PEGI put it: "There's no sense in forcing the issue at this stage. What matters is making sure we get it absolutely right first time for the industry and consumers."

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Latest comments (7)

Gregory Keenan5 years ago
Im still confused by the PEGI situation. I understand the need for a European system so its easier to market games. However I don't understand why Game companies would rather have a game rated via a tick box system (Game has XYZ = 18 straight away) rather than the BBFC system were the game is played by two people who can decide on the content and the context it is shown in before giving the rating.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
@gregory not to mention the fact that the BBFC system was less open to legal challenge. After all.. a system generated and policed primarily by the publishers and developers themselves is more likely to be called into question... and abused.

But the answer is simple really. It's cheaper and easier for publishers/developers to submit an application to PEGI across all the multiple boundaries it covers (even though it's not just a simple single submission, as far as i understand it because national rules still override the PEGI structure - e.g. Germany) than it is to submit multiple game builds to a rating system that requires play-through.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 5 years ago
The need for 2 ratings was very confusing for some titles and was more harmful than good in the long run.

The changes to the UK law is based on advice that is now over 3 years old.
As for German and the USK rating systems its down to cultural reasons as much as regional law, but I think think the USK system is actually very fair, if not very rigid at times.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
As far as i was aware there was no "need" for two ratings on titles because there was no requirement for PEGI to be included on the box at all - it was merely an overspill of the fact that PEGI was used in other EU territories.

Apart from the fact that i disagreed with the advice given in the Byron review (and i even submitted my reasons to the enquiry) doesn't mean that the advice given by someone with no experience in the field as a consumer, seller or producer is going to be advisable to follow. I don't go to a taxi driver for advice on fixing my washing machine, for example. The rest of the review, with regards to children and stuff was okay and it showed that psychology was her preferred field, IMO.
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Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster5 years ago
IMO the BBFC and PEGI systems still need to be more liberal to be taken seriously by parents as it is. The thought that a 16 year old is still not mature enough to play a large number of AAA titles baffles me. And lets not forget that wholly abstract titles like Halo are still rated 16+. It's obvious just by playing online that - law or not - there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people ignoring this law because it's over enforced to the point of being comical.
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Tony Johns5 years ago
I still believe that the ESRB system in America is still better than anything else.

You need to have room for games to be played by everyone, by everyone over the age of 10, by teens and by a Mature Audience over the age of 17+ as well as for those niche games that require an Adults Only 18+ rating be to sold online because of retailers not wanting to sell sexy games in their stores.

In my view, it is better to have a clear communication between the ratings and the parents who buy them for this kids, all this legal stuff is just making something so simple into something complicated.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
@Tony, the problem with the ESRB rating system is that it's *not* versatile. The M rating is not able to allow content that is adult/mature in nature (and i'm not talking about smut here) because of the restrictions on it. The ratings systems like PEGI and BBFC allow real adult/mature material to be portrayed in games without them being effectively censored by the 18+ rating because shops won't carry them.
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