Videogame Age Ratings Are Working, FTC Study Finds


A new report by the Federal Trade Commission has shown a tremendous improvement in the retail industry’s compliance with ESRB ratings when selling videogames to minors.

The latest survey indicates that only 20 percent of underage “secret shoppers” were able to buy M (Mature) rated games, compared to 42 percent last year. By comparison, 35 percent of minors were able to buy an R-rated movie ticket, 47 percent were allowed to purchased an R-rated DVD, 51 percent were sold an unrated DVD and 54 percent were able to purchase PAL (Parental Advisory Label) music CDs.

GameStop received special mention in the report for turning away an “impressive” 94 percent of underage shoppers who attempted to purchase M-rated games, while Wal-Mart and Best Buy also did well with 80 percent rejection rates. Hollywood Video was the worst of the tested videogame retailers, selling the games to 40 percent of secret shoppers, while Circuit City was close behind at 38 percent.

With the exception of movie theaters, which the report said showed no statistically significant improvement in enforcement since 2003, all formats showed increased compliance with age-rating limitations but none approach the levels of success achieved by the videogame industry. To view the FTC’s full report, “Undercover Shoppers Find it’s Increasingly Difficult for Children to Buy M-Rated Games,” click here.

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