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FTC study shows improvement in ESRB enforcement

US secret shopper program reveals 13% of children able to buy M-rated games

A study in the US by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shown a marked reduction in the number of stores selling M-rated games to under aged children.

Last time the body conducted its secret shopper survey, 20 per cent of all stores approached were willing to sell M-rated titles to young children. This year, only 13 per cent of the 13-16 year olds sent to buy the adult games were successful, reports Gamasutra. As recently as 2000, an incredible 86 per cent of all US retailers were selling M-rated titles to children.

"We are extremely pleased to see the Federal Trade Commission confirm not only that the video game industry continues to have the highest rate of enforcement at retail, but that it continues to climb higher than before," read a statement from Patricia Vance, president of US ratings body ESRB.

"The strong support that the ESRB ratings have enjoyed from retailers is crucial, underscoring their firm commitment to selling video games responsibly. We congratulate game retailers on this indisputable validation of their efforts, and commend groups like the Entertainment Merchants Association and our own ESRB Retail Council members for their ongoing work and progress in preventing the sale or rental of M-rated games to those under the age of seventeen."

Retail giant Walmart was the worst at enforcing the ESRB ratings, selling to 20 per cent of subjects. Top of the list were Target, with eight per cent, and Gamestop with nine. Retailer compliance with the ratings system is entirely voluntary.

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