Posts Tagged ‘PEGI’

Read more UK Games Censor News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

PEGI logo Gamasutra cites small game developers speaking about the PEGI games classification group:

We have to work with them, and they have some crazy policies that are not cool for indies, he told me. You can’t put your game on an Xbox or PlayStation without a PEGI rating, and they charge thousands of dollars.

By comparison, getting the game ESRB-rated so the game could be sold in the U.S. costs nothing; the ESRB rolled out a free, streamlined voluntary rating service to digital platforms years ago.

PEGI designed its licensing fee scheme for digital games based on how it’s been rating physical video game releases since 2003: with the expectation that publishers would foot the bill. But the rise of self-publishing has created situations where the biggest line item on a small developer’s budget may well be ratings board licensing fees. That in turn is putting pressure on indies not to release their games in Europe on platforms that require PEGI ratings, i.e. Xbox Games Store, Sony’s PSN and Nintendo’s eShop. Indies are paying roughly $300-$1,000 per platform for a PEGI rating

PEGI knows this. It’s been taking fire on this front from members of the European game industry for some time (UK game industry trade body TIGA called on PEGI last year to reform what it called unreasonably high and repetitious fees ) and when I sat down with agency communications manager Dirk Bosmans at Gamescom last month, he tried to offer both an explanation and the promise of a near future where no indie will have to pay for a rating on a Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo platform ever again.

But first, he acknowledged PEGI’s fees are an outdated relic of the way the video game industry used to operate. They’re also the primary thing keeping PEGI in business. PEGI knows this is a problem, but it wants to maintain income

Our money comes from fees that publishers pay to get a ratings license…that’s basically our only source of income. When we were at the height of the console cycle, there were lots of games. That’s come down in the past few years, so obviously our income is shrinking.

A couple of years ago, if you’d asked me [whether PEGI fees have a chilling effect on European game releases], the answer probably would have been no, because in order to release a game in a box on a shelf you’d need a lot of funds. But because digital is so much more accessible, it’s much easier to release a game, but we still charge the same.

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Read more UK Games Censor News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

tiga logo TIGA, the network for game developers and digital publishers, has written an open letter toPEGI, the European game content rating system, calling for urgent reform of its pricing policy, which charges small games businesses unreasonably high and repetitious fees.TIGA has acted in response to complaints from its members aboutPEGI’s pricing policy.At present, PEGI’s policy is to charge a developer a fee for content rating every time it launches a game on a different console platform (e.g. Play Station 4, Play Station Vita, Xbox One, the Wii U, etc), even if the content is exactly the same. This is excessive and unreasonable.TIGA recommends that the fee for age rating the same game content for different platforms should be waived entirely.

TIGA has warned the Netherlands based organisation that its approach risks hurting start-ups and small independent developers. While PEGI’s pricing policy can impose costs potentially running into thousands of euros on UK and European developers, American game developers do not have to pay their equivalent ratings body, the ESRB, anything at all for rating identical content on additional platforms.

As of 1st of July 2014, PEGI will effectively have three pricing tiers:

  • The lowest, for online or downloadable games only which must be under 250mb, charges EUR260 for certification, and the same again for each additional platform even if the content is the same.
  • The middle tier is for games larger than 250mb, with a production budget of less than EUR200,000 and charges EUR1,155 for certification and EUR1,050 for each additional platform, again even if the content is unchanged.
  • The highest tier is for games with a budget larger than EUR200,000 and charges EUR2,100 for certification and EUR1,050 for each additional platform, even if the content is exactly the same.

To give one example, from the beginning of July 2014, the ratings fee for a Lower Development Cost Product (where the game’s budget is less that EUR200,000) is EUR1,155 in the first instance and EUR1,050 for each additional platform thereafter. So if an indie developer was to launch the same game with exactly the same content on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PS Vita, they would be looking at a ratings bill of EUR3,255. PEGI’s pricing policy imposes disproportionate costs on indie developers pursuing a multi-platform strategy.

The PEGI content ratings system should be focused on providing information to consumers and protecting vulnerable consumers from accessing inappropriate content. It should not be burdening small games businesses with excessive costs. Many small development businesses operate on a knife-edge and struggle to conserve every pound or euro they can in order to stay in business.

TIGA further suggests that PEGI examines the potential for delivering its rating system more efficiently. At present, PEGI carries out the rating process repeatedly for games on multiple platforms. TIGA suggests that instead developers could be offered the opportunity to sign a legally binding document stating the game content is identical. This would allow PEGI to provide a single multi-platform age rating, which in turn would save PEGI’s time and indie developers’ money. TIGA would be happy to work with one of its members, Stevens & Bolton LLP to draft this legally binding agreement and make it available for free to indie developers.

Dr. Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA, comments:

The majority of UK and European games developers operate small studios where financial resources are limited and costs need to be kept to a minimum.

TIGA’s policy is to strengthen the game development and digital publishing sector, in particular by saving games businesses money and improving their access to finance. PEGI’s pricing policy imposes potentially damaging and unreasonably high fees, which have a disproportionate impact on small games businesses. It cannot be right to charge a developer a fee for content rating every time it launches a game on a different console platform even if the content is exactly the same.

Significantly, US developers do not have to pay their equivalent ratings body, the ESRB, anything at all for rating identical content on additional platforms. Once again, UK and European developers are being put at a disadvantage. If the UK and European development sector is to thrive then we need a pricing policy from PEGI which is helpful, not a hindrance; is proportionate, not punitive; and is equitable, not exorbitant.

TIGA is approaching PEGI to find a solution that fairly represents the interests of developers, digital publishers and consumers across Europe.

Read more UK Games Censor News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See article from videostandards.org.uk
See Annual Report 2012 [pdf] from videostandards.org.uk

vsc annual report 2012 The Video Standards Council has published its first annual report since it was designated as the UK regulatory authority for classifying video games supplied in the UK on the 30th July 2012.

The report technically covers only the last 5 months of 2012. However, it also contains a brief history of the VSC, a description of what it does and how it does it and an overall view of VSC activities from a UK perspective. Beyond that it paints a broader picture of PEGI in the global world of video games where the VSC has an international role as a PEGI administrator.

And just a couple of extracts from the report:

The Classification Criteria

For violent video games there are degrees of violence. Gross violence and such things as torture, sadism, horrific depictions of death or injury, motiveless killing and violence towards vulnerable people will attract a PEGI 18 classification.

For video games attracting PEGI 16 violence is permitted at levels which fall short of the violence attracting the 18 classification such as realistic violence and sustained depictions of death or injury to human characters

For video games attracting a PEGI 12 the level of violence falls even lower and includes such things as violence to fantasy characters and unrealistic looking violence.

A similar approach is adopted when dealing with the other main rating issues such as drugs, sex and nudity, crime, and bad language.

If the use of illegal drugs is shown in a game it will attract a PEGI 16 and if the game in any way glamorises the use of illegal drugs the rating will be raised to PEGI 18.

Sexual innuendo, images and descriptions as well as sexual posturing will attract a PEGI 12. If the sex act is shown in a non-explicit manner or there is erotic or sexual nudity the classification will rise to PEGI 16. If it does become explicit then it will go to the PEGI 18 level.

7 If a game in any way glamorises crime it will attract a PEGI 16. A game containing mild swearing will be given a PEGI 12 and the use of any sexual expletives will raise this to PEGI 16.

It is useful to point out that once a single depiction of violence attracts say a PEGI 18 classification the video game concerned can never be classified at a lower level. The PEGI system does not take context into account because the single depiction of violence may be seen many times over as the player may make many attempts play through the level of the game where the single depiction is.

Dealing with public complaints, queries and requests for information

It is probably a reflection of the times to say that almost no letters or phone calls are received by the VSC from the public. Virtually all complaints, queries and requests for information are made directly online to the PEGI public website

In fact PEGI received only 71 complaints about ratings from the whole of European region covered by PEGI ratings.

Read more VSC and PEGI Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See article from digitalspy.co.uk

ukie logo The majority of parents are unlikely to check video game age ratings when buying presents for Christmas, it has been revealed.

New research from the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) shows that only 40% of parents buy games with an age rating that the games raters think are appropriate for their children

43% said that they checked ratings but didn’t necessarily stick to them, presumably because they did not agree with them.

Some 59% parents buying games for their children say they are likely to play the game with their child.

UKIE CEO Dr Jo Twist said:

PEGI ratings on all UK games give clear and simple guidance on the suitability of games for different age audiences and if parents need further guidance on what these ratings mean they can visit Ask About Games.

We’d urge parents to use this really helpful tool to ensure that playing games has the biggest positive impact on their children and family as a whole this Christmas.

Read more VSC and PEGI Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See  news from  bbfc.co.uk
See also article from  bbc.com

Phoenix Checkmate 2 From 30 July and with a few limited exceptions, the responsibility for classifying video games falls to the Video Standards Council, applying the PEGI system.

The BBFC will continue to classify all games featuring strong pornographic (R18 level) content and ancillary games attached to a wider, primarily linear submission.

The BBFC will also examine and offer a determination on certain linear content in video games. This determination will help the Video Standards Council in reaching an overall classification for the video game. The BBFC will offer a determination for linear content which does not contribute to the narrative drive of the game, whether this footage is live action or computer generated; embedded in the game or simply contained on the game disc. Examples of such linear content include the TV material created for the GTA series; video rewards for completing certain tasks or levels within the game; or other video content which does not contribute to the narrative drive of the video game.

The BBFC will continue to classify all non-game linear content on a game disc, such as trailers and featurettes.

Read more VSC and PEGI Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See  article from  computerandvideogames.com

Capcom Resident Evil 6 PS3 The much-delayed implementation of PEGI as the sole UK video game rating system is now expected to come into force on July 30.

Games will be more or less self rated using PEGI age classifications of 7,12,16 and 18, along with comments about the type of content. The Games Rating Authority (GRA), a division of the Video Standards Council (VSC), will oversee the ratings process, with powers to ban and censor where necessary.

Meanwhile Resident Evil 6 may be one of the last major games to obtain a BBFC certificate. (The cover is already sporting a PEGI rating on advance publicity pictures).

See article from bbfc.co.uk

Resident Evil 6 was passed 18 uncut for strong violence and gore. The game boasts 255:00s of video footage or cut scenes.

Read more VSC and PEGI Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See  article from  gamesindustry.biz

Games Rating Authority logo The Games Rating Authority, a part of the Video Standards Council, will take over video games censorship from the BBFC next month. The group will use PEGI ratings and symbols, as used across Europe, eg age restrictions will be set at 12, 16 and 18.

The PEGI ratings have been used for sometime on games not featuring realistic video but now they will be used for all games.

Laurie Hall is the director general of the Video Standards Council, the organisation that handles the PEGI rating process in the UK. For clarity sake the Video Standards Council will use the name Games Rating Authority for its new role.

The new mantra for the GRA will be: Games aren’t just for kids. Be responsible . For Hall, the real problem is with parents not realising that games content can now be every bit as graphic as anything in a movie. A lot of parents wouldn’t allow their 12-year-old to watch an ’18’-rated film, Hall agrees: But play an ’18’-rated game? They’re more inclined to. We’ve got to get the message across.

PEGI is stricter than the BBFC, insists Hall somewhat censorially: We’re not ashamed of that at all, because the methodology of rating films is not appropriate for rating games. Games and films are totally different

And with the enthusiasm of a new censor, he stresses: We will have the power to ban a game in the UK. And he outlines the process for banning games, that he considers transparent, fair and legally tight, and which required the Government’s approval.

An Appeals Panel has been set-up, chaired by Baroness Kennedy, a barrister. And beyond that, there’s an Expert Advisory Panel, comprising Tanya Byron, media violence specialist Dr Guy Cumberbatch, and Geoffrey Roberston QC.

Hall explains:

Why we set up the Expert Advisory Panel is the ability to ban a game under the law is very complex – it’s an expert matter. We can only ban something if it is likely to cause harm to the viewer or society in general. You interpret that!

The Panel will not be making the decision – what they will do is advise the designated officers of the factors they must consider in reaching their decision. It was put in place to make sure if a banning decision ever was made it was as watertight as it possibly could be.