Thursday, April 17, 2008

ESRB: DLC Can Not Exceed Original Rating

Speaking at the recent MI6 Conference, ESRB Head Honchita Patricia Vance declared that post release downloadable content (DLC) for a game must stay within the bounds of the original rating or else the game would face re-rating. DLC for a T-rated game that added blood and gore, swearing, nudity, and/or other such shenanigans would therefore be allowed, but the game itself would then be reclassified as an M-rated game, whether you purchase or download the DLC or not.

Honestly, I'm surprised they had to clarify this because I would've assumed this to be the case anyway. Now that it has been brought up though, it really seems like kind of a shitty policy.

The ESRB rates downloadable games, so why can't DLC for a game be individually rated in the same way? Such content could even carry a warning that downloading it will effectively raise the rating of the game. Should the original game have to carry that rating on its packaging in stores then? Should a web browser be rated AO because you can download and view graphic pornography through it?

All the current gen consoles have parental control features on them that can be set to block users from playing games of a certain rating and also to disallow users from downloading content.

As it is I still really don't see the difference between the M rating and AO rating. One says 17-year-olds and older can play it, the other says 18-year-olds and older can play it. Are we really splitting hairs over one year here?

Why not just make the M-rating 18+ instead of 17+ and then do away with the AO rating? So far, the kind of things that have caused games to get AO ratings are tamer than what you can see in an R-rated (17+) movie.

I wonder how the XBLA versions of Fable 2's pub games will be rated seeing as Fable 2 itself will likely receive an M-rating. If they are being used to promote an M-rated game, will they also have to be M-rated even if their content isn't on that level?

[Multiplayer via 1up]

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