Electronic Arts has stepped into the fray over videogame ratings in the U.K., saying that proposed changes to the current system will result in release delays for new titles.
The proposals, initially raised by the Byron Review, recommend the BBFC begin rating games that earn a 12+ rating from PEGI, rather than the 15+ minimum currently used. As a result, according to Eurogamer, the number of games demanding the attention of the BBFC would increase significantly, resulting in delays of ratings across all games.
“The government’s proposed changes to the existing age rating systems will create further delays in getting hit games to the U.K.,” said Electronic Arts U.K. Vice President Keith Ramsdale in an interview with GamesIndustry. “An extra and unnecessary layer of administration beyond a single system slows the process, and that delay will get passed on to the players themselves.”
“Every time you add a new standard, game developers have to guess what the censors are looking for,” he continued. “If there’s more than one standard in the U.K., and across Europe, that can only equal delays in getting games to market and into the hands of British players.”
Despite the industry claims, the BBFC says it can handle any potential increase in its workload. Saying she was “bemused” by people who claimed to understand the workings and capabilities of the agency, BBFC representative Sue Clark said in May, “They don’t work here; they have no idea whether or not we can cope. The answer is: We can cope, and I don’t know why they keep saying we can’t.”
“The BBFC is entirely funded by the fees that we charge by classifying work, therefore if we get more work in we get more money, so if we need more staff we take on more staff,” she added.
Recent research by the ELSPA, however, found that two-thirds of British adults prefer the idea of a single rating system for all of Europe such as PEGI, currently used by over 30 countries, a point touched on by Ramsdale, who said, “With all the discussion about the Byron Review, we know what the government thinks, but someone needs to speak up for British consumers. Has anyone asked British consumers what they think?”