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BBFC targets net downloads

BBFC.online is designed to provide a voluntary online classifciation for downloadable content, but won't interfere with online gameplay

The BBFC has announced the launch of a new voluntary scheme designed to bring its rating system online to downloadable videogames and movies.

The new service, called BBFC.online, has already been signed up to by companies such as Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros, and 20th Century Fox, with over 600 downloads already having been given BBFC ratings certificates and consumer information.

Previously the BBFC did not rate any materials that were sold through digital distribution, however, downloadable content can now feature the BBFC's 'black card', category symbols, and consumer advice. Distributors that voluntarily sign up will be required to have in place a sufficient level of age verification and restrictions, which will be tested by BBFC.online periodically.

While BBFC.online will cover a variety of online content it will not, according to the BBFC, attempt to censor the internet nor will it have anything to do with rating online games such as World of Warcraft.

"We're talking to all the major players in the arena," said Peter Johnson, head of policy for the BBFC.

"If what you're doing is providing the game to the consumer and you're using the internet as a form of delivery, as an alternative to mail order or shops, then that's included in the scheme. If the gameplay is hosted online then that's not included in the scheme," Johnson explained.

Representatives from the BBFC said that they would have to work with Pegi Online to provide better ratings for online games.

"We don't need to set up in rivalry to Pegi Online... We can work cooperatively," said David Cooke, director of the BBFC.

"My view is that we are better resourced than Pegi and, unlike Pegi, we don't have to go to the games industry to get their approval when we expand, so resources are not an issue for us," he added.

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