ESRB President Patricia Vance has issued a statement clarifying the board's position on videogame trailers, after two publishers had been asked to withdraw trailers in order to comply with age restrictions.
The ESRB "regularly monitors game ads and trailers" to ensure their compliance with "Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Advertising Practices," which had been established in 2000.
"Since 2005, ARC guidelines have required that trailers for M-rated games on publisher websites be displayed behind an age gate to help restrict viewing to those visitors who are 17 and older," she said. "Game publishers are also required to use best efforts with respect to ensuring the presence of age gates on third-party websites that display their M-rated game trailers."
"If a third party site insists on carrying a trailer for an M-rated game without placing it behind an age gate, our guidelines require the publisher to request that such trailer be removed and/or provide an edited version of the trailer to be used in its place."
This would appear to be the root cause of the ESRB's request to D3Publisher of America to have the trailer for its upcoming Dark Sector game removed from the Gaming Today and FileFront sites. However, both sites claimed to have the trailers protected by the requisite age gate.
Even with age gates, publishers cannot include all content in promotional trailers. "All trailers must still conform to ARC's Principles and Guidelines, which prohibit the display of excessively violent content or any content likely to cause serious offense to the average consumer," Vance said. "The notices issued recently by game publishers to third party websites are simply that - steps in a chain of publisher compliance with ARC guidelines and the ESRB enforcement system that have been occurring since their establishment seven years ago."