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ESRB rolls out no-cost ratings for downloadable games

Questionnaire-based assessments of digitally distributed titles also include online privacy descriptors

The Entertainment Software Rating Board wants its system to be ubiquitous, and it's willing to waive ratings fees to make that happen. The ESRB today rolled out its Digital Rating Service for downloadable games, allowing developers to get their titles rated immediately and for free by filling out an online questionnaire.

Beyond just getting an ESRB age rating, titles that use the Digital Rating Services will also have online privacy descriptors to let customers know about game functions they may find undesirable. The descriptors will warn customers if a game shares their personal information with third parties, their location with other users, or allows uncensored user interaction through direct communications, media sharing, or user-generated content.

"By simplifying the process and eliminating the cost to developers, the ESRB expects to broaden adoption of its ratings among game providers of all types," the ESRB explained in a statement. "The resulting ubiquity of ESRB ratings will ease a parent's job by presenting a single ratings standard across the many platforms on which their children access games. Increased adoption of ESRB ratings also means that developers will no longer be subject to differing and oftentimes conflicting rating systems and standards for their digitally delivered games."

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Latest comments (5)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
This is major league for those to whom it's relevant at all. Thanks and not before time. :)
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This is fantastic news. Now, what is covered by a "digital" rating? Phone games? Online store games (i.e. Wiiware)?

Next step is to make *all* games covered by this sort of application. Ideally, there is exactly ONE person/group who should be rating any game - the game creator. And if the game rating has complaints (i.e. intentionally rated too low) then the game gets pulled and it goes to a full, expensive, rating board.
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Tony Johns4 years ago
This is perhaps the best thing about the ESRB, they are not controlled by the Government unlike the Australian and German ratings Bords are, so therefore Digital Downloaded games that are from indie studios would have a chance to get their games rated.

The UK are still trying to place laws around the PEGI System, but I hope it fails because in Australia where I live, we can't get indie games at all on the downloadable systems for consoles unless if they are rated by the Australian Classification Board.

If the indie developers can't pay the fees or from a different country where it is unable to contact them, then Australian gamers could kiss those indie games goodbye because of the laws of every game MUST be classified.

So with the american ESRB system not being goverened by law, as well as the ESRB group going above and beyond helping game companies as well as indie game developers who may not have the money for industry style ratings, they can still have some way for informing people about their game content as well as informing what sort of information can be used while using a game app.
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Stewart Gilray Managing Director, Just Add Water4 years ago
I think Simon Little at PEGI needs to introduce this.

It's the sort of thing that will only help the industry and Indies
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Igor M D 4 years ago
It's not relevant to most of developers (iOS, Android distribution does not require ESRB/PEGI rating), and too late for others. The only platform I can think of with a low entry barrier that requires ESRB rating is PSN minis, but it's becoming obsolete.
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