esrb ratings

ESRB Issues Changes for Mature Rated Games

Earlier today the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (or ESRB)  issued changes for Mature rated games in a three page letter to game publishers outlining the way Mature games will now be marketed.  According to, publishers can now blanket their M-rated trailers for their wares to a wider more “general” audience  and the trailer must include the standard white box with black lettering with the capital M and notice proclaiming “The contents of this trailer have been approved for a general audience” and must stay on the screen for a total of four seconds. The same procedure must be followed with games that are more than likely going to be rated M.

One of the most notable things is that these trailers will no longer need an age gate on websites, but must be approved like before by the ESRB.  In the document the ESRB described the process in more detail stating,

“”A trailer, demo, or video (of any length) for a Mature-rated game that has been deemed suitable for a general audience through the ESRB pre-clearance process will not require an age-gate. Please note that pre-clearance of Mature-rated game trailers posted without an age-gate is mandatory and must be submitted to [the ESRB].”

As far as cross selling goes,  with promoting one game through the use of another such as adding a demo of one game that is anticipated to be rated M along with the full game of an already M-rated title when purchased, it was said that the ESRB would probably give its nod to go ahead and do it.  Another interesting loophole was the possibility of advertising an M-rated game with the sale of a lower rated title such as ‘”T”through strategically placed advertisements in the packaging or an ad for one company’s M-rated game on a publisher controlled official game website, and that too would get clearance from the ESRB.  To better explain the situation the ESRB said,

“”This policy addresses cross-marketing of games, not bundling products together.  The fundamental goal is to ensure that the cross-promotion of products is appropriately targeted. In doing so we may consider a variety of factors including the nature of the product, audience composition of the media vehicle being used, the intended audience of the game, whether registered users are of a certain age, whether an age-gate is employed, etc.” also mentioned two other changes found in the documentation they received this morning from the ESRB.  The first was that publishers no longer have to have a four-second M-rated warning before the demo of an M-rated game but must have the game’s rating on the download page in a “clearly visible” place before download.  As far as download kiosks, the ESRB cautioned publishers of M-rated games that they too must use their best effort to make sure that the game rating is “clearly visible”.

The second change was regarding the advertising of a U.S. M-rated title next to a M-rated title from another geographic location such as Europe which uses the PEGI system and the fact that the ESRB does not allow it on publisher websites and social media.  Since the ESRB has found some publishers not showing any ratings at all on their websites they have thrown out that rule for websites “where what’s displayed changes based on your location” just does not work.

What do you think of the changes? Leave a comment here at


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