Thursday, May 08, 2008

Video game industry self regulation working better than in any other entertainment industry

Every year the FTC conducts a secret shopper study on various entertainment products at leading retailers to find out how well the retailers are enforcing the ratings found on the products. 13- to 16-year-old "undercover shoppers" try and buy R rated movie tickets, R rated DVDs, unrated DVDs, PAL music CDs and M rated video games. The FTC has been this since 2000.

Today the FTC released its 2008 secret shopper study results.

And boy, are they an impressive win for the video game industry!

20% of the underaged shoppers were able to buy an M rated game. That compares favorably to ALL other products in FTC's study. 36% were able to R rated movie tickets, 47% were able to buy R rated DVDs, 51% were able to buy unrated DVDs, 54% were able to buy PAL music CDs.

Not only that, but the video game retailers have improved their enforcement year after year, from 86% in 2000 to 20% in 2008. Since 2000 the movie theatres, for example, have not improved their ratings enforcement practically at all while the other retailers have all improved roughly 50% within the 8 years.

Even more impressive was that the only video game specialty chain store included in the study (GameStop / EB Games) refused to sell M rated games to the kids 94% of the time. Not one retailer scored higher in this study on any product group.

The study shows undeniably that the self regulation within the video game industry and the video game retailers is working exactly as intended. There is no need for expensive and restrictive (as well as unconstitutional) legislation.

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