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TIGA urges PEGI to review its prices

By TIGA

TIGA urges PEGI to review its prices

Tue 29 Apr 2014 7:32am GMT / 3:32am EDT / 12:32am PDT
Publishing

An open letter from the trade association to the game content rating system

TIGA

TIGA is the trade association representing the UKs games industry. The majority of our members are...

tiga.org

The CEO of TIGA, Dr Richard Wilson, has written an open letter to Simon Little of PEGI, the European game content rating system, calling for urgent reform of its pricing policy, which charges small games businesses unreasonably high and repetitious fees. TIGA has acted in response to complaints from its members about PEGI's pricing policy.

Dear Simon,

I am writing in response to complaints from TIGA members about PEGI's pricing policy. In particular, the pricing policy that comes into effect from 1st July 2014. It is excessive and unreasonable to charge a developer a fee for content rating every time it launches a game on a different console platform, even if the content is exactly the same. TIGA recommends that the fee for age rating the same game content for different platforms should be scrapped entirely. PEGI's current approach risks hurting start-ups and small independent developers.

Additional platform fees

As you know, PEGI has a monopoly on games released in Europe, Germany aside, and the majority of platform owners have a mandatory requirement for age rating certification. Developers cannot therefore realistically avoid certifying their console games via PEGI in Europe. PEGI's policy of charging a fee for content rating every time it launches a game on a different console platform, even if the content is exactly the same, can impose costs potentially running into thousands of euros on UK and European developers. For example, the ratings fee for a 'Lower Development Cost Product' (where the game's budget is less that €200,000) is €1,155 in the first instance and €1,050 for each additional platform thereafter. So if an indie developer was to launch the same game with exactly the same content on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PS Vita, they would be looking at a ratings bill of €3,255. PEGI's pricing policy imposes disproportionate and unnecessary costs on indie developers pursuing a multiplatform strategy.

TIGA believes the PEGI content ratings system should be focused on providing information to consumers and protecting vulnerable consumers from accessing inappropriate content. However, this must be achieved without burdening small games businesses with excessive costs. TIGA recommends the fee for age rating the same game content for different platforms should be waived entirely. Many small development businesses operate on a knife-edge and struggle to conserve every pound or euro they can in order to stay in business.

TIGA further suggests that PEGI could examine the potential for delivering its rating system more efficiently. At present, PEGI carries out the rating process repeatedly for games on multiple platforms. We recommend that developers could instead be offered the opportunity to sign a legally binding document stating the game content is identical. This would allow PEGI to provide a single multi-platform age rating, which in turn would save PEGI's time and indie developers' money. TIGA would be happy to approach TIGA member Stevens & Bolton to draft this legally binding agreement and make it available for free to indie developers.

An un-level playing field

The majority of UK and European games developers operate small studios where financial resources are limited and costs need to be kept to a minimum. TIGA's policy is to strengthen the game development and digital publishing sector, in particular by saving games businesses money and improving their access to finance (hence TIGA's long campaign for Games Tax Relief). PEGI's pricing policy imposes damaging and unreasonably high fees, which have a disproportionate impact on small games businesses. It cannot be right to charge a developer a fee for content rating every time it launches a game on a different console platform even if the content is exactly the same.

Significantly, US developers do not have to pay their equivalent ratings body, the ESRB, anything at all for rating identical content on additional platforms Once again, UK and European developers are being put at a disadvantage. If the UK and European development sector is to thrive then we need a pricing policy from PEGI which is helpful, not a hindrance; is proportionate, not punitive; and is equitable, not exorbitant.

Summary

To summarise, it is disproportionate and unreasonable to charge a developer a fee for content rating every time it launches a game on a different console platform, even if the content is completely the same. TIGA proposes that the fee for age rating the same game content for different platforms should be scrapped entirely. PEGI's current approach risks harming start-ups and small independent developers.

Next steps

I trust that you will give the contents and suggestions made in this letter serious consideration. TIGA would be pleased to invite you to a meeting to discuss these issues further with TIGA representatives so that we can find a solution that fairly represents the interests of developers, digital publishers and consumers across Europe. Given the importance of this subject to TIGA members, we intend to make the contents of this letter public.

11 Comments

Stewart Gilray Managing Director, Just Add Water

33 29 0.9
Popular Comment
I have to say I completely agree with this.

Even as a UK based developer, when we rate with ESRB for "Short Form" titles it is completely FREE. Yet working with PEGI means we have to spend the equivalent of a persons monthly wage. For a small company such as ours this is sometimes not an option until the very last moment prior to release!

The other potential option of course is to go with IARC, however since this isn't integrated with the various storefronts it cannot be used as of yet.

It seems through my research that Nintendo will be the first console platform to go IARC, followed by Microsoft, then Sony.

So in short Simon/PEGI at least for digital only titles bin the fee, you know it makes sense!

Posted:5 months ago

#1

Drew Field Communications Director, TIGA

3 4 1.3
FYI if anyone would like to see TIGA's press release on this issue, you can find it here: http://www.tiga.org/news/press-releases/tiga-urges-pegi-to-review-its-pricing-policy-to-help-indies

Posted:5 months ago

#2

Dermot Stapleton Operations Director, Mastertronic Group

1 0 0.0
Agree with Stewart, the IRAC initiative will be most welcomed by Mastertronic given the prohibitive costs of all the retail ratings we have to invest in across all territories. And why exactly is Germany separate in any case? That just adds even more cost (in cash as well as time) and prevents great games being published on some digital store fronts.
In terms of VFM the system doesn't have a lot to recommend it. The developer does the donkey work by filling out the questionaire. All this seems to do is generate an invoice and the rating you have identified gets rubber stamped once you part with your cash (and not before). This, in a market where many of us still don't actually earn anything until 60 days (or more) from the date of a sale.

Posted:5 months ago

#3

Stewart Gilray Managing Director, Just Add Water

33 29 0.9
If I was a cynical man I'd say it's to keep a certain Scotsman comfortable in Brussels.

Posted:5 months ago

#4

Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis

386 184 0.5
While I agree with the pricing being out of sync with what it should be, the point about the "UK and European developers are at a disadvantage" doesn't make sense as US developers also have to pay PEGI for European releases just as UK and European devs pay ESRB fees. I'm not aware of games releasing in one territory except for Indie games which don't tend to have any rating board assigned to it.

Posted:5 months ago

#5

Stewart Gilray Managing Director, Just Add Water

33 29 0.9
I think the intention was that to PUBLISH in the EU, is prohibitive, unlike the US, but then again CERO is also costly too, and MUST all be done in Japanese, which means paying someone extra to do that also.

Posted:5 months ago

#6

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

820 653 0.8
As somewhat of an age rating specialist here, I'm surprised I never thought about this... And I was not aware that PEGI charges for each platform in which the product is released. If I recall correctly ESRB charges only once since their rating are tied to the tittle, not the platform; all you need to do is a document (sign a paper, to put it simply) stating that all versions of your game are identical in content.

Now I have to update my information it seems.

Posted:5 months ago

#7

Stewart Gilray Managing Director, Just Add Water

33 29 0.9
Also worth noting ESRB only charge for "Long form" IE retail released titles. There is NO fee for Digital "Short Form" titles.

Posted:5 months ago

#8
Just ditch PEGI :)

Posted:5 months ago

#9

Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis

386 184 0.5
Dr Chee Ming Wong, you suggesting bring back the BBFC rating in the UK? :)

Posted:5 months ago

#10
From a fiscal point of view, anything that costs the least and provides some sort of classification system is best. IF PEGI charges for each platform, thats rich! Even a one off fee for ESRB makes more sense. If there is no charge for digital titles, ditch the retail format
, The whole point is not to finance PEGI to enrichen its coffers...
but its about allowing gamers to responsibly, develop and cater for their specific genre/market

Posted:5 months ago

#11

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