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BBFC hits back at Microsoft and EA

The ratings group says the criticisms levelled at it and the Byron report are unfounded and that the industry has "nothing to fear"

The BBFC has hit back at recent criticism from key figures at Microsoft and EA over the Byron Report's proposal that the group starts rating a larger proportion of videogames in the UK.

"We are disappointed and concerned about attempts by one or two videogames publishers to pre-empt, through recent press statements, the forthcoming public consultation on videogames classification," said the BBFC's Director, David Cooke

"The BBFC's current average turnaround time for games classifications is eight calendar days. In terms of international comparisons, this is notably quick. There is no reason why the increased role for the BBFC envisaged by Dr Byron should lead to delays," he said in response to comments made by EA's Keith Ramsdale, to GamesIndustry.biz, that the proposed ratings changes outlined in the Byron Review would lead to delayed releases of new titles.

Cooke further responded to Microsoft's senior regional director for EDD in the UK and Ireland, Neil Thompson, who commented to GamesIndustry.biz, that the changes to the ratings system could cause the price of games to rise as the industry faces unexpected costs.

"BBFC classifications are already cheaper for many games than those under the Pan European Games Information System. Because the BBFC currently deals mainly with the most problematic games, BBFC costs will fall if, as Dr Byron recommended, we take on all games, physical and online, rated '12' and above," he said.

Cooke went on to rebut claims that the BBFC would be unable to cope with the expected glut of online and user-generated games.

"It is absurd to imply that the BBFC could not cope, or would need "a building the size of Milton Keynes". The BBFC is a larger and better resourced organisation than PEGI, and is well used to gearing up, and to providing fast-track services where appropriate. We reject any suggestions that the Byron proposals for dealing with online games are not future-proof," he explained.

"Countries such as the USA and Germany already classify such games in a way which reflects national cultural sensibilities. The BBFC has made clear that we are prepared to work through PEGI Online, which already recognizes BBFC symbols. But, with online games, the real need is not a pan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundly based and independent initial classification, full information provision, and responsible self-regulation of online game-play backed by properly resourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms."

"The games industry really does have nothing to fear from a set of proposals which would provide more robust, and fully independent, decisions, and detailed content advice, for the British public, and especially parents. The Byron proposals, far from envisaging the collapse of PEGI, specifically provide for a continuing PEGI presence in UK games classification. They also provide significant opportunities to reduce duplication of effort and costs. And they would make wider use of a system, the BBFC's, which British parents recognize, trust and have confidence in," Cooke added.

GamesIndustry.biz conducted an interview with BBFC's director David Cooke in May.

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