The complaint is based on a letter from the ESRB listing more than 30 instances of the 3D Realms website violating the ESRB’s Terms and Conditions Agreement. Most of the violations come from the site’s use of outdated rating icons and the lack of content descriptors. The ESRB gave 3D Realms 10 days to make the required changes, warning that it would otherwise face penalties, which could range from warnings to fines of $10,000 for repeat infractions.
Speaking to Shacknews, Miller said, “I think they came off like a schoolyard bully, rather than an industry partner. Why all the threats right off the bat? If the ESRB people know what was being said about them in underground channels, so to speak, they’d see their antics have caused them much loss of faith as an industry leader.”
The ESRB has recently been asserting itself more visibly in the industry: prior to the warning to 3D Realms, the organization had demanded that D3 Publisher remove Dark Sector promotional trailers due to what it said was “excessive or offensive” content, and also issued similar warnings to 2K Games over “age-gating” for trailers for Mature or Adult-Only rated games. The ESRB’s heightened level of activity in recent weeks is seen by many as part of the continuing fallout over Rockstar’s controversial Manhunt 2.
Responding to Miller’s criticism, ESRB President Patricia Vance referred to the organizations Advertising Review Council, which monitors marketing and advertising campaigns to ensure that appropriate guidelines are followed. When asked whether the ESRB had become more stringent with advertisers, she said, “ARC notices that are sent to publishers are merely a reflection of ESRB fulfilling its obligations to the industry to enforce the guidelines it has adopted.”