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  Game over...

US games rating group ESRB is backing down from ratings for online-only games citing high volumes


Link Here 19th May 2018

iarc logoThe Entertainment Software Rating Board has confirmed it will cease offering free age and content ratings for online video games next month. The Short Form ratings process the ESRB currently offers for download-only and online games will be discontinued in June. The ESRB will continue with the higher cost Long Form ratings, primarily used for physical/boxed games. A date has not yet been set for the end of the service.

Developers feared that they would be forced to pay for the higher cost rating otherwise they would not be allowed to release their titles on key platforms like Xbox that demand a content rating.

However the ESRB's official Twitter feed responding that:

Developers of digital games and apps will still be able to obtain ESRB ratings at no cost through the IARC rating process. The Microsoft Store deployed IARC years ago and has committed to making IARC ratings accessible to all Xbox developers. So, developers should not be concerned.

The International Age Rating Coalition is a newer system for obtaining age ratings for multiple territories and storefronts with a single process. While ESRB single out the Xbox Store, it is also accepted on Google Play, the Nintendo eShop, and the Oculus Store.

There is currently no word on when this will apply to the PlayStation Store, but an IARC press release in December 2017 said the platform would be added soon.

 

  Conan Exiles...

Video game is censored in the US but is uncut in Europe


Link Here 9th May 2018
Conan Exiles: Day One Edition Conan Exiles is a 2018  Norway online survival game by Funcom, either played from the first-person or third-person perspective.

Many months ago, windowscentral.com reported that the American ESRB might give Conan Exiles an AO for Adults Only rating which could prevent it from coming to consoles. To avoid this, Funcom had to censor some adult content like exposed penises and testicles for release in countries using ESRB ratings.

A Funcom spokesperson clarified the situation. On consoles, full nudity is only available in PEGI (Albania, Bulgaria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and more) and USK (Germany) territories. You can activate it by downloading the Nudity add-on which come with the game purchase.

Unfortunately, only partial nudity is available in ESRB (Bahamas, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, United States, and more) countries.

 

  Agonising cuts...

Publishers explain that they are having to censor the upcoming video game, Agony, to get an ESRB M rating


Link Here 17th April 2018
Agony A gony is a 2018 US survival horror by Madmind Studio

Players begin their journey as a tormented soul within the depths of Hell without any memories about their past. The special ability to control people on their path, and possess minded demons, gives the player the necessary measures to survive in the extreme conditions they are in

The publishers of the Kickstarter funded video game Agony have been explaining that release delays are down to censorship problems at the ESRB. The game features nudity which does not sit well with the M (17yo+) rating needed to avoid the commercial ban on adults only games in the US. PlayWay explains:

In order to be able to publish the game, we had to make some compromises. Otherwise, we would have had to to delete the whole project and never release it. With that in mind, we have spent a lot of time to make sure that censorship will not affect the perception of the game. That is why for many months we have been conducting interviews with age-rating companies in order not to cut out entire scenes from the game but at the same time modify it enough (e.g. just slightly changing the camera's frame) to get an M (Mature) rating instead of AO (Adult-Only) rating. AO rating means that the game could not be released on PS4 and Xbox One, and we would not keep the promise made on the Kickstarter.

We also want to confirm that we are preparing a special, optional patch for PC that will remove the aforementioned censorship. We would love to do something similar for consoles but from a technical and legal point of view it is simply not possible.

Many of you ask us what exactly we had to censor, fearing that the game you have been supporting for years will not be the same experience you hoped for. We do not want to list exactly what's been censored due to possible spoilers, but it is important for you to understand that none of the elements you have seen in Agony's promotional materials (gameplay, trailers, screenshots, GIFs) have been censored. Do not be afraid, the full version of Agony is much heavier than what you've seen so far anyway.

 

 Offsite Comment: The consequence of refusing to accept adults only gaming...


Link Here 31st March 2018
esrb ao US games developers squeeze adult games into the top end of the M rating whilst mildly violent games seek an M rating for street cred. The US then ends up with a single, and meaningless, rating for everything beyond children's games

See article from thefederalist.com

 

  Hidden costs...

US games ratig group adds label to inform customers of 'in-game purchases'


Link Here 1st March 2018  full story: Loot boxes in video games...Worldwide action against monetisation of video games
esrb logoThe Entertainment Software Rating Boar d (ESRB) has announced that it will begin assigning a new "In - Game Purchases" label to physical ( e.g., boxed) games.

The In - Game Purchases label is one of several interactive elements that ESRB currently assigns to notify consumers about the interactive or online features of a digital or mobile game. Consumers can expect to start seeing this new notice on all games that can be purchased in stores and wherever those games can be downloaded in the near future.

ESRB president Patricia Vance said:

The video game industry is evolving and innovating continually, as is the ESRB rating system. ESRB's goal is to ensure that parents have the most up-to-date and comprehensive tools at their disposal to help them decide which games are appropriate for their children/ With the new In-Game Purchases interactive element coming to physical games, parents will know when a game contains offers for players to purchase additional content. Moreover, we will be expanding our efforts to educate parents about the controls currently at their disposal to manage in-game spending before their kids press 'Start'."

The new In-Game Purchases label will be applied to games with in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency, including but not limited to bonus levels, skins, surprise items (such as item packs, loot boxes, mystery awards), music, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes and upgrades (e.g., to disable ads).

The ESRB also launched ParentalTools.org , an easy - to - use one - stop resource for parents

 

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