Looks like the government have decided to have PEGI as the sole ratings board for videogames in the UK, instead of the BBFC.
This means that games will no longer be rated by the BBFC, but by PEGI. I assume that this will also make PEGI age ratings legally enforceable (?).
Industry responses here:
Mike Rawlinson, Director General of ELSPA, the trade body which represents games publishers:
“The Government has made absolutely the right decision for child safety. By choosing PEGI as the single classification system in the UK, British children will now get the best possible protection when playing videogames either on a console or on the internet. Parents can be assured that they will have access to clear, uniform ratings on games and an accurate understanding of game content.
Today’s decision will ensure that games ratings stay relevant and adapt to the changing nature of videogames for many years to come. Retailers will now have clear, legal backing to help them prevent access to unsuitable content by children.
We will work closely with the Government, the Video Standards Council and the BBFC to ensure a smooth and rapid transition to this new ratings system.”
Simon Little, MD, ISFE:
“This decision by the British government to adopt PEGI as the single ratings system for videogames in the UK will give British children the same protection whether they are playing at home or online, as children in 28 countries across Europe.
PEGI meets the criteria set out by Professor Byron in her review and has also been further updated to take into account developments in new technology as game playing moves increasingly online and becomes increasingly interactive. It is a robust system which protects children online and offline. We will continue to ensure that PEGI remains the most relevant and effective system for helping parents, guardians, teachers and retailers to protect children both now and in the future.”
David Yarnton, UK General Manager, Nintendo:
“The Government has made the right decision. The PEGI age rating system is right for the protection of children as it is designed specifically for games and interactive content.
As a global company we welcome the decision as mature and intelligent as it works across some 30 international territories.“
Rob Cooper, Managing Director, Ubisoft UK:
“The adoption of PEGI as the rating system for games is a good decision. The PEGI system is future-proof, delivering effective child protection now and in the future. PEGI Online is a key component of the system, ensuring that the government does not have to re-assess the entire system once again in 12 months time.”
Mike Hayes, President and CEO, Sega Europe:
"This is an important decision for the UK public. PEGI is the only system that has the power to prevent games publishers distributing unsuitable content to children.”
Keith Ramsdale, Vice President and General Manager, EA UK, Ireland and Nordics:
”We welcome the government's decision. PEGI is the right choice to protect children from inappropriate gaming content, and best suited to continue to do so in the future as interactive entertainment moves increasingly online.
We applaud this collaboration between government and industry to find the best solution for consumers and for the UK marketplace.”
Andy Payne, Managing Director, Mastertronic Group Ltd and Chairman, ELSPA:
“This is the right decision for the UK consumer. The PEGI system is specifically built for interactive content both on and offline and is recognised throughout Europe. In a connected digital world, implementing age rating standards that are understood across traditional frontiers will protect children from unsuitable content and help to educate parents at the same time.”
Neil Thompson, Senior Regional Director UK & Ireland Entertainment & Devices Division, Microsoft:
“This is the right decision, the most important issue to be considered is that of child safety. A single PEGI system is by far the best means of promoting child safety; given the fact that PEGI is used for offline and online games in 29 countries across Europe. In a globalised market where children can play video games online across borders, this decision will provide clarity and consistency in deciding what games are appropriate for children and in enforcing those decisions – now and in the future”.
Apparently the Video Standards Council has been given powers to ban games. gamesindustry.biz reports:
The Video Standards Council – the new body managing game ratings in the UK – has been given tough powers to enforce legislation of the new PEGI system.
Company's that do not adopt the PEGI system will face fines and the possibility of titles not being granted a license to be released in the UK. The VSC also has the option to ban games from release.
"The VSC will be an independent body, as is the PEGI system, and while I'm sure there's some joining up to do, it's a tough system," detailed Electronic Arts' UK MD Keith Ramsdale, who has been consulting with the Digital Britain report as part of his role on the ELSPA board.
"We've gone further than the recommendations and PEGI will impose fines for non-compliance and possible exclusion from the PEGI system for non compliance.
"This isn't something ELSPA can affect, this will become a legislative statutory system and ELSPA doesn't get an influence, it's being handled independently," he added.
While the PEGI system has always raised concerns that it was a self-regulatory system, the Video Standards Council will oversee ratings and crack down on any companies trying to exploit the system as it puts into place a self-declaration process.
"To be honest so much content now goes online it's not realistic to expect a classification body to classify a product. It's got to be a self-declared process," said Ramsdale.
"But there's a big difference between self-regulation and self-declaration. So what a publisher will do is complete a self-declaration and of course there will be checks on what content people put in, and there will be highly punitive measures should publishers not comply."
David Cooke, BBFC Director:
"We have argued consistently that any games classification system needs to put child protection at its heart. It must involve consultation with the British public, command their trust, and reflect their sensibilities. It must take account of tone and context and be carried out by skilled and knowledgeable examiners. It needs to involve the provision of full, helpful and carefully weighed information to parents and the public more generally. It must have the power and will to reject or intervene in relation to unacceptable games or game elements. It should make a substantial contribution to media education, for example through dedicated websites and through work with pupils, students and teachers. It must be speedy and cost effective. It must have the capabilities to monitor online gameplay and to attract new members to online classification schemes. And it must be independent in substance as well as appearance, reaching its decisions and providing information on the basis of its own detailed assessments.
The BBFC has always supported PEGI and wished it well, but it continues to believe that it satisfies these requirements better than PEGI. However, it will cooperate fully in the detailed work needed to give effect to the Government’s decision. And it must be independent in substance as well as appearance, reaching its decisions and providing information on the basis of its own detailed assessments.”