FTC: M-rated sales to minors down

Sting operation reveals retailers do better job of keeping Mature-rated games out of kids' hands--but almost half were able to buy violent titles.

The Federal Trade Commission today announced the findings of their latest undercover investigation regarding the sale of games rated M for Mature by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to minors. Currently, the ESRB's rating of M applies to games that "have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older." Such games may include "intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language."

Currently the ESRB ratings are used only as a guideline, and retailers face no fines or penalties for selling M-rated games to minors. However, that would change if a federal bill introduced by Democratic senators Hilary Clinton and Joe Lieberman becomes law.

Today's numbers show that while retailers have overall done a much better job of not selling M-rated games to minors unaccompanied by an adult, 42 percent of minors were successful in purchasing games deemed inappropriate by the ESRB.

National chains performed better than regional and local retailers, with only a 35 percent rate of minors successfully purchasing M-rated games, versus 63 percent.

The previous investigation, held in 2003, saw 69 percent of minors walk away with M-rated games. The numbers were even worse in 2000 and 2001, when 85 and 78 percent, respectively, of minors successfully purchased M-rated games.

The investigation was held between October 2005 and January 2006, and featured "secret shoppers" between the ages of 13 and 16. 406 stores in 43 states were hit, with the majority being national retailers.

For more information on the FTC's findings, head over to the group's official Web site.

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Discussion

40 comments
jamey5
jamey5

i think its hilarious that you get carded at a store but any kid that knows there own address and can get their parents or their own credit card can get any game they want off amazon or e-bay.

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

it's the parents that buy the M games for their kids.... this problem will never be solved until parents actually start caring about the well being of their children.

Rej72380
Rej72380

The video game retailers are getting a lot better at not selling M-rated video games to minors. This article proves it.

rasds
rasds

I think some M-rated games aren't good for children, they did a good job about these problems, I think the kids should play games for their ages

DrKill09
DrKill09

They must be cracking down, cause yesterday I got carded. I'm 19, and the clerks know me. They must be required to card all now.

mr_montoya85
mr_montoya85

DONT LET NOTHIN STOP U FROM GETTING THOSE VIOLENT GAMES KIDS

bizsumpark182
bizsumpark182

I know my store doesn't sell M rated games to minors.

Nradd99
Nradd99

We don't give our kids enough credit. Us

ATISolidSnake
ATISolidSnake

Agreed fps Hilary is stupid. The only 2 candiates that are likely to win is, either Republican John Mccain or his good buddy in NY Repulican Juliani

tremo01
tremo01

Good thing I live in Canada.

D_E_E_G_S
D_E_E_G_S

Lets get a show of hands, who voting for Hilary in 2008? Nobody? I thought so, a vote for Hilary is a vote against gamers across the country.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

Everything is coming up roses now. I feel a whole lot safer, how about you?

ATISolidSnake
ATISolidSnake

nemes I agree and Neo Jedi I defenantly agree with, o By the way Neo, I like your Kurt Angle Picture, the toughest wrestler in the world

nemes1s3000
nemes1s3000

How exactly do they know minors aren't playing M rated games? If anything it has increased significantly, play a game of Counter-Strike and you'll know exactly what I mean. There's no proof for this and there never will be.

NeoJedi
NeoJedi

Good news, finally the message is getting through.

ATISolidSnake
ATISolidSnake

The Bill is stupid and it got vetoed because of it being against the first Amendment and the bill does not focus on worse things than games like bad books, movies, and Television. they need to stick with the rating system and thats it. because all a child needs to do is ask an 18 year old to help them buy the m rated game.

dippendots
dippendots

I'm under 18 but this is still great news. I will admit, I've played games that I shouldnt have, GOW RE4, but I know the differnce between right and wrong. Alot kids my age don't. A word to all the Xbox live dudes, parent are the one that buy Halo for there kids, not kids.

BonelessBone
BonelessBone

I consider myself mature even though Im 15 years old. I do my best not to be influenced by bad content in games like GTA. I tried getting Black with my mom, but the guy said it contains Strong Language, which is rarely spoken in the game, but only thru distorted messages thru the radio. But then again my Mom said she didn't want to look like a bad parent, so she said buy it with my brother. But Im glad the numbers decreased.

NakedLumberjack
NakedLumberjack

The politicians need to invest in the important stuff like maybe the war. Besides I used to play M rated games before I was considered old enough and I used to watch R rated movies and my parents let me because I was mature enough to know the difference between reality and fiction. Parents need to step up not the government.

Kfoss
Kfoss

WOW! people can read the giant letter M!!!...its nice when they pay attention to there ABC's!...blaeh and this is suppose to be news..*halo jumps* LOL

TheClash
TheClash

Way to deflect real issues congress! How about bringing the troops out of Iraq or making sure Katrina victims aren't homeless after FEMA evicts them? Republicans are crooks, Democrats are a meek sort who put up only a token opposition. Help the American people, stay away from our hobby!

boolow407
boolow407

How about stopping kids from buying the real dangerous stuff like DRUGS or BOOZE! What a waste of taxpayers money. Im all for the ESRB, but to actually conduct stings?

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

In response to Sagacious_Tien: The bill shouldn't be passed because it violates the First Amendment - it would have a chilling effect on the sale and creation of video games. Also, someone mentioned something about kids not being able to get into R-rated movies. Guess what... there's no law saying a movie theater can't sell a ticket to an R-rated movie to a minor. The movie industry is self-regulated, just like video games.

DeathStar17
DeathStar17

Isn't that wonderful, maybe now they will see that videogames aren't the problem.

Onizuka36
Onizuka36

The government needs to shut its trap about this. Parents need to stop relying on the government and actually take a turn taking care of their own kids.

spinecaton
spinecaton

Movies have this rating and it works. Video games should be in the same boat with being more strict towards who can buy the games. Sorry little kids, I know not all of you are immature but guess you will have to wait to buy your next GTA title or next shoot em up game til you are old enough to buy it on your own.

Truewiseblade
Truewiseblade

^ I could make the exact same argument about the realism of movies. Or TV. Or Radio. Or even a book (do people still read those?) It is completely ridiculous to say that one form of media is more mind-warping than others.

Metron4
Metron4

This will only get worse as graphics and interaction move closer to reality. When is society going to recognize the difference between reality and games?

CapitalistPride
CapitalistPride

This is horrible. What has happened to freedom when in this day and age you can't buy a simple video game. Sell any game to anyone that wants to buy it.

rencie
rencie

This is great news. If only parents do heed ESRB ratings more closely.

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

I can't see why this Bill can't be passed. The ESRB guidelines are mostly being followed as it is, and while kids will still be able to play these (they will find a way) games, the chances will be far less likely. It's good too see that most retailers are getting behind the ESRB now too.

trick_man01
trick_man01

Good to hear retailers are doing there part, and even if it's a small step baby-steps are better than no-steps.

QualityJeverage
QualityJeverage

Yeah, I'm glad the retailers are doing their part too. My local EB Games (They're still here in Canada) always tells parents what's in the game they're buying their kids. So for example, if a parent walked in with his son and tried to buy Half-Life 2, the clerk would read the ESRB warning to the parent and then ask if they still wanted to buy it. That's a great system, it doesn't take too much work from the employee and it gives parents the knowledge they need.

tuff_gong92
tuff_gong92

Hey this is great but i fit in that group that cant buy the M-rated games but this shows how we progressed WITHOUT the federal putting recources where it shouldn't.

insane956dv
insane956dv

About time, tired of listening to all this contreversial crap

fore_runner
fore_runner

I really don't care if minors can't purchase M rated games. Even though parents should be making the descision. It means I won't have to hear racist immature 12 year olds screaming in their mikes on Xbox Live.

SithLordKiller
SithLordKiller

^^I agree. Parents should know not to buy M rated games for their children who are 9 years of age or what not. If they do, they should understand the implications behind it and should be aware that they need to be with their child from beginning to end of the game (or at least until they get tired of it). Bottom line, parents need to educate themselves and in turn, need to educate their children in regards to the difference between reality and virtual reality. Parents also need to learn the difference between video games for kids and videogames in general. Just because it's a video game does not necessarily mean it's for kids.

uglypimp
uglypimp

Can't wait til this is passed. So tired of playing with 9 year olds in Halo.

mindcas
mindcas

good to hear that kids can't buy them, but how about now stopping the parents from buying the games for their 10 year olds.