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Will PEGI make it into law this year?

"Complex work is ongoing," insists DCMS; Industry sources hopeful of Christmas resolution

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has admitted that "complex technical points" are behind the ongoing delay to legal implementation of PEGI age-ratings for video games in the UK.

"We are working to put the scheme into implementation as soon as possible," a DCMS spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz, without offering a revised timetable.

Negotiations between the Government – overseen personally by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey – UKIE, the Video Standards Council, and current statutory ratings body the BBFC, are understood to be at a "delicate" stage. But sources familiar with the matter said there was optimism that the system could still be passed into law "by Christmas".

The DCMS added: "There have been a number of complex technical points where detailed work has been needed to reach a solution that works for all sides.

"Clearly, we want to have a scheme that works for industry but it must also work for regulators, for those involved in enforcement and especially for consumers."

As revealed by GI.biz in January, a complicated debate over packaging regulations had thrown a spanner in the works, with the BBFC's role in particular requiring definitive clarification.

The main sticking point remains the issue of "linear" (i.e. trailer) content, which regulations require is rated by the BBFC, though there is growing confidence that resolution is finally in sight.

Once proposals are agreed on all-sides, European ratification will then be required, which is expected to take a further three months.

The delay has been a source of ongoing frustration for the games industry, with the PEGI scheme part of the Digital Economy Act, which passed in April 2010, while calls for a change to the system stretch back to recommendations made in the 2008 Byron Review.

But as one source close to PEGI put it: "There's no sense in forcing the issue at this stage. What matters is making sure we get it absolutely right first time for the industry and consumers."

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Johnny Minkley

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Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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