Survey: 17 percent of GTAIV purchasers underage

Nielsen Company's examination of buying habits surrounding launch of Rockstar's latest finds minors reporting "relative ease" in getting hold of the M-rated game.

It doesn't take a parental watchdog group to point out that Grand Theft Auto IV might not be the most appropriate choice for kids. Rockstar Games' open-world action game pushes its M-for-Mature rating with generous helpings of "intense violence, blood, strong language, [and] strong sexual content," according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Despite the content descriptors and the series' notoriety, GTAIV frequently found its way into the hands of those under 17, according to a new study from The Nielsen Company.

In a recently released white paper, the industry-tracking group recapped survey results from more than 6,000 gamers. In addition to recapping buying habits and trends broken down by gender and age demographics, Nielsen noted that minors had "relative ease" in acquiring copies of the game. Unlike tobacco or alcohol, buying M-rated games for the underage is not illegal, although most retailers have policies that prohibit it.

According to the survey, 17 percent of the respondents who purchased GTAIV were between the ages of 7 and 16. Of those younger gamers, 61 percent purchased the game themselves, whereas the remaining 39 percent had a relative or a friend acquire the game in their stead.

As for who was buying the game and giving it to children, it was usually a parent or guardian, according to the survey. In some 80 percent of those cases in which kids had somebody else pick up GTAIV for them, it was a parent or guardian doing the purchasing. Older siblings were the next most-common facilitators (10 percent), followed by other relatives (8 percent), and finally friends (2 percent).

Other findings from the survey shed some light on consumers' purchasing habits. Gamers aged 18 to 24 were the least likely to pick up the $90 special-edition bundle of GTAIV, which included a duffel bag, soundtrack CD, art book, and a safety deposit box. The package was most popular in the 7 to 12 age group, with 36 percent of those purchasers opting for the bells-and-whistles edition.

As for those who own both an Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3, the most popular reason to buy the game for one system over the other was a simple console preference. The second-biggest reason for those who went with the Xbox 360 edition was the promise of exclusive downloadable content (25 percent), whereas the runner-up reason for PS3 purchasers was free online play (19 percent).

For more on Grand Theft Auto IV (which was just announced for the PC), check out GameSpot's review.

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282 comments
havocmerc
havocmerc

I really don't see the big fuss about the underaged purchases. GTA isn't porn so who cares. There are adults who will buy the game for their kids for Xmas gifts and so on so it really doesn't matter because it the end it will still end up in the hands on children.

Waffen_SS84
Waffen_SS84

And the crime rate rose 17%... Oh wait...no.

MysticDynamite
MysticDynamite

Though many of the purchasers underage might have been emotionally mature (the majority of 14-16 year olds), parents should understand when a child is emotionally ready to play a game. In this case I'd say the parents did a good job, as only 17% of those purchasers were underage; they just need to use good judgment. In this case, the clerks at the game store should really care about who is buying the product, not just about profit.

TXMostWanted
TXMostWanted

Seriously, for GTAIV, I will make an exception and say that they really do need to enforce the 17+ purchase policy. I don't want stupid kids reinacting this as well because "they were bored"

67gt500
67gt500

Hilarious... on the flip-side, 83% of GTAIV players are underage...

yaygamesyay
yaygamesyay

at the end of the day the age limit is only a reccommendation. so long as the publishers make it clear to the parents what they're letting their children play, and the parents think the children are mature enough to play it then where's the problem? the only real effect on how a child turns out is their parenting. games like this only have an effect on kids if their parents were wrong and they're not really mature enough for them

yaygamesyay
yaygamesyay

at the end of the day the age limit is only a reccommendation. so long as the publishers make it clear to the parents what they're letting their children play, and the parents think the children are mature enough to play it then where's the problem? the only real effect on how a child turns out is their parenting. games like this only have an effect on kids if their parents were wrong and they're not really mature enough for them

bedsheet73
bedsheet73

My bro has gta 3 vice city san andreas and IV and he lets me play them. he thinks i am mature enough which i am and im only 12

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

ok this is why i think u underage punks need to be cuffed b4 u walk into a video game retailer. u buy overaged products. you may be 13 but u can hardly comprehend whats going on in a game like gta4. i say parents DO SOMETHING NOW before your children start talking back at age 12!. like come on people. it may have been 17% but lets takes into case how many games fly off the shelves every day into underaged hands unchecked. i say if you want to do that u might as well tell em how to roll a joint and where to get pron.

crudmanIV
crudmanIV

Really? only 17%? I think they got their information from biased source because I'm 13 and everyone I know has it. And it isn't hard at all for me and anyone else to get MA games. As long as my dad's fine with it, I just go into eb, with my own money, and buy the game with my parent and/or guardian there. And do any parents really give parental guidance while their kids play games? Wouldn't it be really boring to watch your kid play some video game? Lastly T070Y, just to let you know, barely any kids of school age still believe in Santa. And I mean year one kids

Nosnitsttam
Nosnitsttam

hey 17% is not bad if you ask me. Parents buy games for their kids, regardless of the ESRB label or being informed by employees. I constantly ask parents if they are aware of the content of the game. every so often i'll get ones that actually cancel the sale but most just shrug it off and others have played it themselves or know what it is and are cool with it. then there are the small few who have NO IDEA what it is they're buying (usually grandparents) that get all frustrated when i try to explain why it's probably not a good idea for little timmy to play GTA IV while the little brat is lying to them saying "it's not that bad".

T070Y
T070Y

meh whatever. someday they will discover violence as they discovered santa isn't real haha

Gundam_Fan
Gundam_Fan

When I was working at Toys R us, we try to not sell games to minors and we check IDs. The problem is when a grownup comes in and buys the game for the child. Even if we know we are selling it to the child, if the grownup says, "I'm buying it for myself" there is nothing we can do... well unless that customer pisses us completely off, than we can refuse service.

Anayalator408
Anayalator408

of course kids are going to get this game, one way or another.their parents or watever who bought the games for them were probably the same kids who spent hours playin Mortal Combat back in the day. I agree with DragFire24, age doesnt necessarilly equal maturity, so if these kids don't laugh their butts off every time they the word poop, im kool with buying it for em.

paullywog
paullywog

so don't blame the rating because it's obviously the parents at fault.

cheezedoodle999
cheezedoodle999

As long as the 10 year olds don't have live, I'm happy

DragFire24
DragFire24

if they ware my kids I wouldn't allow them to play it until I see that they are mature enough to play it. Mature does not necessarily mean to be 18years old. Other than that, "Survey: 17 percent of GTAIV purchasers underage", their problem... If parents allow them to play it they might know what they are doing (few of them i think).

chrisda
chrisda

in fact, the first set of games i've ever played were doom and duke nukem when i was 3.

chrisda
chrisda

that sounds about right, i played GTA3 when i was about 7, played GTA vice city all the time when it came out, and i turned out all right.

RonHack
RonHack

From what I remember as a child (call it four decades ago :D ), there is a "family behavior", a "friend behavior", and a "school behavior" that kids learn early during their social development. It wouldn't be surprising to hear of kids playing GTA and their kin, and yet remain societally well-behaved. You don't shoot your mouth off in certain situations, or among certain people, and the environment has certain expectations of how you should be acting. Personally, I wouldn't want my under-teens playing this game (then again, I'm not that age anymore), yet the politicans who are arguing for stricter laws against MA games are sorely under-estimating the average intellect of a child (which is probably higher that the politician in question) to acquire the game, come what may. This study proves it without a doubt. My solution to this: the parents play gatekeeper. Best for this job, and no-one else is better.

Lemonsquare
Lemonsquare

I'm under-age and I never did the survey? Is this survey that is likely far from right, American only? Canada has EB Games, not Gamestop...

Hager117
Hager117

uh dogymilk i dont think thats something to be proud of

dogymik7
dogymik7

WOWEE i started playing gta when i waz like 10 bu my sister is 3 and she already noes curses.....she'z well on her way to gta lmao

JayEss04
JayEss04

7 YEAR OLD PLAYiN GTA? THATS ALiL OVERBOARD. iFiRST PLAYED GTA WHEN iWAZ LiKE 12. iTHiNK

shamiq_loco
shamiq_loco

PalatialRegalia is correct.It isnt the age but how mature the mind of the gamer is and whether the gaurdians of the minor accept it

Ratchet12345
Ratchet12345

7 year olds playing GTA IV? Those kids' parents/guardians have serious problems.

brain20035
brain20035

this is crap! I mean all these rules for the underage gamers are cool sometimes, but the fact that some people are making money forcing them on people or suing others, is really annoying...then again I have no better idea so that's the way things are and will be...

Killingspree303
Killingspree303

Why not? There are more violence on TV than in video games, and kids have more access to TV than 18+ games

PalatialRegalia
PalatialRegalia

i think if a kid wants to play it they should. the adult wouldn't let them if they weren't supposed to, i think you have to be like 17.. im 15 and i told my mom at 12 i wanna buy this game, it was vice city or some game, it was mature is my point and she bought it with me. shewatched me play it and how i acted shutting it off like in the house.. i was fine. it all depends on how mature you are and like some people said age is the only thing stoppin you from BUYING it. you can play, if your ready enough, just make sure its cool with adult and have them buy it.

Spike345
Spike345

Who really cares about what age kids are buying the games at they should be able to buy any type they want to. Also what ever happened to the gamestop saying,"POWER TO THE GAMERS?"

SamSpike
SamSpike

Well, I'm pretty sure that 80% of the kids that play gta stuff didn't do the survey. And I'm one of them. But I don't think that anybody is stupid enough to worry about if GTA4 as a big influence on kids. There hasn't been any school shooting in connection with GTA yet, so we are still safe.

mba41025
mba41025

Hey as if I would go around killing people.I am 12 years old and will never do it. I have the game and it is awsome.

monoendo1
monoendo1

I would say its alot more than 17 percent more like 40 or something along those lines.

RangerG
RangerG

This game isn't really a big deal. In my local movie theatre all the "R" movies are rated "14A". I was able to go to Halloween or release date. Sex scenes, Blood, Extreme Gore, Language, and much, much more. That is a lot more than what GTAIV has to offer. Any local Wal-Mart will sell to you underage. Its not a big deal. When I went in there the clerk asked for some ID, then laughed and said just kidding. Its not a big deal.

Fr0m4gnum
Fr0m4gnum

The only problem I see here is; how did 61% of gamers age 7-16 purchase the game themselves!? Also, I just find the idea of a 7-8 year old playing this game disturbing. I understand the whole maturity issue everyone is talking about, and I totally endorse it, but what terrible parent would do that!?

necronaux
necronaux

And how did they come to 17%? I've never agreed with, or trusted the Nielsen Company's ratings.

Paulitis
Paulitis

It's all about how mature u are not the age. Cmon i was mature enough in age of 12 and few ppl from my school who are 18 arent mature enough to play it...

4nationfury
4nationfury

While I think we shouldn't be so quick to want to throw away ratings and restrictions, I don't really see the big to do. 17% isn't that huge of a percentage and this game sold millions of copies. So though a lot of kids were underage, this is still a small percentage from the main buyer. Its gonna happen one way or another.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

I'm of the opinion that any game SHOULD be allowed to be played by persons of ANY age. There were no age restrictions on video game play when I was growing up, so why should there be any now? I think game developers need to start following the Movie industries example right now, in that you should always aim to get that PG-13 rating for your game. Reason I think that, is eventually you'd think your current market of "mature" gamers is going to grow up, leaving only these underage people to sell to!

xRmRxfreakBOMB
xRmRxfreakBOMB

Maturity is a state of mind. If you give a mentally unstable person (or a WAY too young kid) a game like GTA IV, BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN. But if you give someone who understands right from wrong and is perfectly sane, (someone who is "Mature") they will understand that they shouldn't re-enact killing, doing drugs, ect. It's just a shame that some of these people/kids get their hands on games and do **** that gives video games a bad name.

Ace77765
Ace77765

They know that the young ones buy the special edition see just like many people have said the purchasing habbits our age group is least to buy all that mess but these little dumb kids they do so they get ya money that way. Even though gta and its soundtrack is hot that dont apply to a halo or another game where limited edition is garbage

jimbob40k
jimbob40k

its not my fault that some people my age r going crazy, i have the game and im 15, i have about 17 people i know who r my age who have the game theyre fine, thanks to these people who think video games r real, we're all counted as rtards

salman06p0020
salman06p0020

I am 16 and I bought this game myself. I dunno why is it rated M, it was not disturbing at all for me.

zeeshan810
zeeshan810

While you and 95% of other kids who played these games turned out fine and did no harm it is the 5% that become aggresive in their behavior and these games played excessively to warp ones mind in a spur of the moment type of situation. There is young teens from all over the world that have performed horrible acts of violence and well it may not be proven 100% video games caused their aggressive behavior when they faced a difficult situation to handle most people will realize that video games may have been the impulse to push them over the edge to steal, kill, or verbally abuse a fellow human being.

HaLoMaStErJT
HaLoMaStErJT

Society is just blaming video games for all their troubles. Why worry about games when you can focus on ending war, feeding the hungry, findig a cure for aids, etc. I haven't played any GTA game until I was 17, and it doesn't affect me in any negative way.

HaLoMaStErJT
HaLoMaStErJT

Society is just blaming video games for all their troubles. Why worry about games when you can focus on ending war, feeding the hungry, findig a cure for aids, etc. I haven't played any GTA game until I was 17, and it doesn't affect me in any negative way.

DarqKiller
DarqKiller

I definatly agree with ResidentZombie2, Im part of the 17 percent but the reason why is because my parents know that I know the difference between fantasy and reality, therefore they let me play it, Just because Im underage doesnt mean im childish and all of that. and if you get your ****in 7 year old GTA IV, you are officially an irresponsible parent who doesnt know ow to say no to their child. this has seriously got to stop.