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.