FTC: Game industry most compliant with M-rated game sales

Federal Trade Commission undercover shopper study shows games beat out CDs, film, and DVDs at making sure content isn't viewed by underage eyes.

A new Federal Trade Commission undercover shopper survey published today found that United States game retailers continue to be the most compliant with enforcing age-based ratings. According to the group's data, only 13 percent of underage secret shoppers were able to purchase M-rated games in 2012. This figure is unchanged since the last study was published in 2010.

Meanwhile, 24 percent of underage shoppers were able to buy tickets to R-rated movies (down from 33 percent in 2010), while 30 percent of underage shoppers were able to purchase R-rated DVDs (down from 38 percent in 2010). The least compliant group was the music CDs contingent, which allowed 47 percent of underage shoppers to buy albums with explicit content.

The FTC conducted the study by asking groups of 13- to 16-year-olds to attempt to purchase R-rated movie tickets, R-rated DVDs, music CDs with warnings of explicit content, and games rated M for Mature while unaccompanied by a parent. The study was conducted between April and June 2012 at national and regional chain stores and theaters across the US.

Entertainment Software Rating Board president Patricia Vance commented on the study in a statement provided to GameSpot.

"We applaud video game retailers for once again demonstrating our industry's ongoing commitment to parents. Enforcement of video game sales policies continues to be substantially higher than that for any other entertainment industry," she said. "This success is due in part to retail partnership programs like the ESRB Retail Council, through which we regularly conduct our own mystery shops to help retailers maintain a high level of store policy enforcement. We will continue these responsible efforts with unwavering dedication to serving parents."

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Discussion

131 comments
Grenadeh
Grenadeh

I feel like they purposely photo'd some of the worst games on the market. Coincidence that they are in the same alphabet region I guess.

pimpofdoom
pimpofdoom

The under 17 year olds that have a credit card and a gaming PC just use Steam anyway.

the-medz
the-medz

you now what funny?  you have organizations do things like this to so call protect minors from being expose to violence. when you have retailers selling soda pops, candies and all those incredibly toxic food to people of all age. and they are promoting them as being healthy. if the government want to help over future generation, they should start by help kids who are really in need of support. by letting them know violence, robbery etc. is not the answer to a brighter future. how about helping parents who can't afford to feed their child or children. 

DragonbornBoy86
DragonbornBoy86

and we care about this because.....? This makes a difference because....? Report on something relevant, not something irrelevant. 


StealthHimself
StealthHimself

The only thing left that the FTC CAN'T do is supervise your children which 'real' parents have no problem doing anyways.. too many deadbeats out there today..

hunter8man
hunter8man

Now can someone show this to that idiot Leland Yee so that he can finally give up his ridiculous crusade?

toddx77
toddx77

Your not going to hear a politician or news outlet mention this lol.  If asked a politician will just say "oh I didn't hear about that but games and only games are evil trust me"

ziproy
ziproy

So parents who's fault is it now???

Kr3isen
Kr3isen

Some of you people are really fuckin dumb. Here you got some bigshots who blamed gaming for a few killing and what do you do, you just blame it on parents buying kids violent video games. Further reinforcing their claims that games do in fact cause kids to go insane. Basically your all shouting YEEES GAMES DO CAUSE KIDS TO GROW UP TO BE RAPISTS AND MURDERERS, but only if the parents allow them play those games.


DbzJohno
DbzJohno

Now if only the parents would do there part.

iBuSHiDo
iBuSHiDo

This old Muslim guy that works where I work can't really read or write in English, so when his kids want video games, they write it on a piece of paper and he brings it to me and hands me the cash to go buy it for them. He's one of those really hardcore Muslims and he doesn't hesitate to constantly tell everyone that what they are doing is a sin. 

One time this company in our building was throwing out all these toys and he grabbed one that was some action figure toy. I told him to bring it home to his kids and he said no, that's a sin. They can't play with stuff like that. Somehow though, when they want Mortal Kombat or God of War Ascension, he's fine with it. I've even explained to him that those games aren't for little kids. Parents like that are complete hypocrites and would just rather not know what's going on with their kids until it's too late, and then they try to find someone else to blame. For the record, I saw the giant bomb quick look of GoW Ascension and saw the scene with the half naked women. I told him I wasn't gonna buy that for his kids. He took the paper to Best Buy and had someone find it for him. Now his 9 year old kid is playing that. 

Hurvl
Hurvl

It's that good game retailers do this, because some politicians (or perhaps even the whole government) don't think that parents are able to parent underaged kids.

Redman1984
Redman1984

Here in the Netherlands the shops never asks for your age, a boy age 12 can buy Call of Duty or ZombiU!!

Divad222
Divad222

If underagers really want to, they can order these games online. They dont ID there,

msfan1289
msfan1289

OH WHAT NOW all you stupid morons that like the idea of a law passing that stupid law that punished any game store for selling games to "underage" buyers, even tho those stores are are already enforcing the ESRB rules.

flamingboard
flamingboard

When I was 17 I tried buying a M game and the lady wouldn't sell it to me. I handed it to my friend next to me who had already turned 18. He paid for it then handed it right back to me. Her face expressed contempt.

legonate11
legonate11

Honestly, I feel like I get carded buying mature games as much as I do buying alcohol.  It's funny to me because there's a four year gap from the 17 for mature games and the 21 for alcohol, but in my experience mature rated games are checked as frequently despite my being 25.

Paradosis
Paradosis

Not sure what planet this research was done on, but where I shop this would be impossible. Every time I walk into a big box store they have oodles of mature-rated DVDs and Games, but only censored CDs. They couldn't buy CDs with explicit content simply because the stores don't carry such a thing.

hobotech64
hobotech64

Too bad the opponents have a really effective strategy involving plugging their ears and singing "LALALA".

decoy1978
decoy1978

Like I've been stating before there is ALREADY a system in place for video games to ensure that minors do not purchase M-Rated games. Its ENFORCEMENT that PARENTS and RETAILERS need to be held accountable. 

I hope those 13% got fired/reprimanded btw, its moronic retailers such as those that are giving us gamers a bad rep. 

I would also like to see a study on PARENTS to see who allows their kids to purchase M-Rated games. Just because little Timmy got A's on his report card doesn't give him a free pass for GTA -_-

Threesixtyci
Threesixtyci

@the-medz There is no way I'm buying a 2 dollar stale Snickers bar at Best Buy, when I can buy a fresh bar for 75 cents at a grocery store.

mr_england
mr_england

@weishankillsnaz They should have them in December. It's close to the end of the year. If you've reached the new year, you've gone too far.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

@ziproy That guy!  Over there!  See him?  Yeah, it's his fault.

maitkarro
maitkarro

@Kr3isen Everything bad you said existed already before digital media existed, so any argument about games is mute.

mr_azim
mr_azim

@iBuSHiDo It's a sin because Muslims cannot keep idols in their home, or objets that resemble men or fantasy-like beasts.  He probably doesn't know what's in the game.  When I worked at EB Games a few years ago, I had to warn so many parents about Conker's Bad Fur Day for the XBox...... when they came back to return it, my manager wouldn't approve because we already warned them.  Trade-in only.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@Hurvl Mostly because they aren't. The government would be even worse at it.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@flamingboard I wouldn't care if i were her, it's no skin off her back. She sold it to a non-minor. Once a product is purchased it leaves the legal custody of the seller and is the property - within the confines of legal bullshit and reality - of the buyer.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@legonate11 I don't get carded for anything, I'm not even halfway to 28 yet. And that's true, when I do get carded it's for a game. I get carded for smokes maybe 1 out of every 100 times. I get carded for alcohol at my pub 0 times out of every weekend, rarely get carded at strange bars, and never get carded at the grocery store for alcohol. The last time I bought a game retail - new game mind you not pre-owned (Tomb Raider) I got carded. I have since bought other mature games like Dead Space 2 or Dante's Inferno Divine Edition (had to get it on PS3 as well) and didn't get carded. But they were different cashiers those two times. I'm kind of offended when I get carded for a game but not beer.


But you know, video games kill people. Beer obviously doesn't.

Landsharkk
Landsharkk

@Paradosis At what point in your rant do you actually talk about underaged people buying the mature content products?

Oh wait, you don't mention that, making your entire comment 100%%%%%%%% completely useless and unrelated to the above article and unrelated to the overall point you were trying to make (and by trying I mean failing on all points).


Just because it's being displayed does not make it available to people of all ages to purchase and bring home with them.  Kinda like how a person under 21 can walk into a store the displays alcohol on the shelves, it doesn't mean they are selling it to underage kids.  

leviathanwing
leviathanwing

@Paradosis you do realize how stupid you sound right now?  oh wait, no you dont.  hint:  the world is not your hometown. 

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@decoy1978 I grew up in the original vidya game generation, Genration X, and so back then the ESRB was pretty new and inconsistent and meaningless. I don't remember games having ratings to an extent that mattered or if the system was enforced. I remember there was Doom and such and my parents bought me that, I was in 2nd grade when Ultimate doom came out I think. The only other violent games I remember actually playing back then were like Turok and Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, and I don't recall if I bought those or someone authoritative did, but I do remember not ever being carded for anything.

I think once I bought South Park at best buy (the original N64 game I believe) and I also had some CDs in my cart like Slipknot or whatever else. It may have been a diff game. Regardless, I got carded, and I was confused - I'm like "I need a card for this game?" because I thought it seemed reasonable. Then the cashier goes "No the CDs."

Really? So the explicit CDs are dangerous but not the game where I kill people.

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

@decoy1978

i actually just saw a Dad buy a boy a M-Rated game, today....

the boy was at least 10-12years old...

the Target employee, said formally to the father, "this is a Rated Mature game, are you still interested in purchasing it even though your son is not of age?" the Father of course was fine with it...

it made me chuckle, especially with everything that is going on lately with games in the media...

iBuSHiDo
iBuSHiDo

@mr_azim @iBuSHiDo Yeah, I found this out later on. It's strange though how they believe you cannot have an object or idol like that, because it is a sin, yet if that idol is instead represented artistically on a screen and you take control of that fantastical man or beast to do violent things, it's fine with him. I wonder if that is his personal view or if that would be the way any Muslim fundamentalist would see it. I know it's not for a lack of faith, because he is the kind of believer that not only tells non Muslims of all the sins they are committing, but he also claims other Muslims aren't doing a good enough job of it. 

toddx77
toddx77

@mr_azim

So you told parents Conker's Bad Fur day was not for kids and they still bought it?  By that logic that would be like a parent buying the Watchmen or Kick Ass comic for their kid or the movies and then complaining about the content and demanding their money back because it is comics and superheroes which automatically means it is for kids lol. 

ziproy
ziproy

@mr_azim @iBuSHiDo Except the guys states that there are naked women in the game and that a 9 year old kid shouldn't play it.

So toys are the devil, but video games are perfectly fine?? Can't wait to meet this guys kids

ziproy
ziproy

@Divad222 @flamingboard I've had that conversation with some idiot at Walmart. The stores pick 18 just to be safe, you aren't a minor anymore so there's no chance of a parent coming back and being "WTF"

decoy1978
decoy1978

@HailHellfire @decoy1978 Many years ago in a different lifetime, I use to work at Game Stop. I was ASM at the time and this kid comes up and wanted to buy GTA IV. I told him I could not sell him the game because he wasn't old enough. He pleaded me for  5 minutes, until I told him that I would only sell the game to his parents. He smiles and brings mom and dad.

The parents looked pissed at me for having to wait in line just to purchase the stupid game when I told them "Are you cool with your son playing this game, its rated M". They gave me the same response what I heard HUNDREDS of times from HUNDREDS of parents "What does that mean?" I explained to them the meaning the ratings system. 

Dad looks at son when I explained what rated M means and he tells him No. He then argues with the wife for not knowing what his kid was buying with his money. Wife argues with dad for not spending more time with the son. I told them its the law, if they were cool with it, I'd sell it to their little bastard.

Point is, we already have a system in place DECADES ago it seems. Why are going to spend that much more tax payer money on writing up new laws when we should focus on the better enforcement of current laws. A GIANT M in front of the box will not deter kids from purchasing CoD no more than a small M. 

Get the parents educated, PUNISH those who do sell to minors. 

toddx77
toddx77

@HailHellfire A parent coming back to the store complaining haha how true that sounds.  I can just imagine a parent coming back saying "you didn't tell me Bullet Storm was not for kids?  How was I supposed to know that?  You expect me to look at the rating on the box or use common sense and think if a game is called Bullet Storm then it probably isn't for kids?  I shouldn't have to think, whats the matter with you" lol

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

@Suikogaiden

no, but they would win over making a statement out of something...

look at whats happening right now..

its all about making a statement...

none of it holds any sort of validity to anything...

its just a way to try & pass a law by creating fear, so that they can have the authority to fine a business that does not abide by this rule, (if passed), & make money off of these businesses...

this would then hurt the reputation of the business, which is what businesses thrive on & it would cost them money to go to court, if a customer was dumb enough to do so...which equals loss...

its all an easy way to stop these events from happening & to make sure that a business does not loose money...

please note, i am not some pro corporate business person, i just know the inner workings of retail, since i have supervisor knowledge from back then...

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

@Suikogaiden @HailHellfire 

its a very common policy...

i know Tower started this 1-2 years before they closed down...

i started seeing more businesses also associating themselves with this type of policy...

it protects the store but also helps save them from losses due to everything going digital...

doesnt matter...

this stops it from happening, hence why they use this policy b/c it is a way to protect them, b/c it is verbalized & the customer was warned...

so they can no longer use that reason as an excuse for a return...

it also saves them from being sued, in case the customer tries to over throw this b/c they were not warned..

people are sue crazy

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

@Suikogaiden

you can get warnings/written up....

3 of these, make it finalized for being fired without Workmans Comp...

you loose the store money, since it is not a defect...

so in turn, there is no way of returning the product...

vendors dont take back product anymore, like they use to back in the 90s...

that all happened due to everything going digital..

so, if an employee does not tell the parent when it is clearly obvious that it is a game for a child, then that is their fault & the stores fault...

so in turn, the store would have to take that loss in product...

if this is a continuous issue with an employee, then yes...

you can get fired for not doing what your told...

its part of their job...

jobs do have rules, ya know...

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

@Suikogaiden @HailHellfire

you seem to miss the point..

its not about it being the employees business, which i clearly stated above...

he did it, to save his ass..

it seemed to me, that he could care less about what the father was purchasing, the reply seemed like a prompt, that stores tell employees to say, so that the store is not at fault when parents come back angry...

you cant return open video games...

whether or not the parent bought it, it still happens where a parent will come back & blame an employee for them not informing them...its common place in the retail world...

all of this talk currently is about enforcing a bill that they are trying to pass...

the bill would legally enforce ESRB ratingsUp to $5,000 in fines for selling M-rated games to anyone under 17

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

@Suikogaiden @HailHellfire 

it was actually smart that the employee did it....

he wasnt doing it for the fact of telling him how to do parenting...

it was to save his ass...

employees in the retail business are usually treated like crap, & are threatened with losing their jobs if they do not make a point of it, or are blamed if a parent comes back to the store angry...

cause a Parent can easily come back & bitch about an employee not telling them or warning them about it...

ive seen it happen one too many times when i use to work at Tower Records back in the day...