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  A scary thought...

PEGI will consider whether PG rated jump scares will be a lot more scary when young gamers are immersed in virtual reality


Link Here 20th November 2015
PEGI logo European games ratings body PEGI says that it will re-evaluate its ratings system when Virtual Reality games arrive next year.

The firm says it will take a closer look at how it assesses fear and horror in terms of suitability for young audiences. Presumably the group is considering whether a PG rated jump scare could turn out to be far more scary than that in virtual reality.

It follows comments from Sony's Worldwide Studio boss Shuhei Yoshida, who told Digital Spy at Paris Games Week that a new ratings system might be needed for games that could cause 'trauma'.

PEGI operations director Dirk Bosmans told MCV:

PEGI should examine the coming wave of VR products using the current questionnaire, but reserve the right to reassess certain elements -- more specifically the criteria around fear (currently rated PEGI 7) and horror (as in non-violent scary imagery, currently rated PEGI 12) -- once a broader range of products hits the market in the coming period of time.

 

  Playing the Suffocation Game...

PEGI classification fees are proving extortionate for small games developers


Link Here 16th September 2015
PEGI logo Gamasutra cites small game developers speaking about the PEGI games classification group:

We have to work with them, and they have some crazy policies that are not cool for indies, he told me. You can't put your game on an Xbox or PlayStation without a PEGI rating, and they charge thousands of dollars.

By comparison, getting the game ESRB-rated so the game could be sold in the U.S. costs nothing; the ESRB rolled out a free, streamlined voluntary rating service to digital platforms years ago.

PEGI designed its licensing fee scheme for digital games based on how it's been rating physical video game releases since 2003: with the expectation that publishers would foot the bill. But the rise of self-publishing has created situations where the biggest line item on a small developer's budget may well be ratings board licensing fees. That in turn is putting pressure on indies not to release their games in Europe on platforms that require PEGI ratings, i.e. Xbox Games Store, Sony's PSN and Nintendo's eShop. Indies are paying roughly $300-$1,000 per platform for a PEGI rating

PEGI knows this. It's been taking fire on this front from members of the European game industry for some time (UK game industry trade body TIGA called on PEGI last year to reform what it called unreasonably high and repetitious fees ) and when I sat down with agency communications manager Dirk Bosmans at Gamescom last month, he tried to offer both an explanation and the promise of a near future where no indie will have to pay for a rating on a Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo platform ever again.

But first, he acknowledged PEGI's fees are an outdated relic of the way the video game industry used to operate. They're also the primary thing keeping PEGI in business. PEGI knows this is a problem, but it wants to maintain income

Our money comes from fees that publishers pay to get a ratings license...that's basically our only source of income. When we were at the height of the console cycle, there were lots of games. That's come down in the past few years, so obviously our income is shrinking.

A couple of years ago, if you'd asked me [whether PEGI fees have a chilling effect on European game releases], the answer probably would have been no, because in order to release a game in a box on a shelf you'd need a lot of funds. But because digital is so much more accessible, it's much easier to release a game, but we still charge the same.

 

  Play Ratings...

Google provides App developers with details of its new scheme to adopt ratings from international censors


Link Here 27th May 2015

google play store logo To help consumers make informed choices on Google Play, we're introducing a new rating system for apps and games. These ratings provide an easy way to communicate familiar and locally relevant content ratings to your users and help improve app engagement by targeting the right audience for your content.

Starting in May, consumers worldwide will see the current Google Play rating scale replaced with their local rating on the Play Store. Territories that are not covered by a specific International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) rating authority will be assigned an age-based, generic rating.

To prevent your apps' from being listed as Unrated, sign in to your Google Play Developer Console and fill out the questionnaire for each of your apps as soon as possible. Unrated apps may be blocked in certain territories or for specific users.

Beginning May 5, 2015, all new apps and updates to existing apps will need to have a completed content rating questionnaire before they can be published. As a Google Play Developer, your compliance and participation with the new app ratings system is required under the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement. Apps that aren't rated using the new rating system may be removed from the Play Store.

Note: All apps and games on Google Play are required to follow the Google Play Developer Content Policy.

Obtaining Ratings

To receive a rating for each of your apps and games, you fill out a rating questionnaire on the Google Play Developer Console about the nature of your apps' content and receive a content rating from multiple rating authorities. The ratings assigned to your app displayed on Google Play are determined by your questionnaire responses.

You're responsible for completing the content rating questionnaire for:

  • New apps submitted on the Developer Console Existing apps that are active on Google Play All app updates where there has been a change to app content or features that would affect the responses to the questionnaire

  • To benefit users, developers should use the assigned rating when advertising their app in each respective region, subject to display guidelines.

App ratings are not meant to reflect the intended audience. The ratings are intended to help consumers, especially parents, identify potentially objectionable content that exists within an app.

All rating icons are protected trademarks of the respective rating authority and their misuse may result in legal action.

Important: Make sure to provide accurate responses to the content rating questionnaire. Misrepresentation of your app's content may result in removal or suspension.

Rating authorities & descriptions

The bodies involved are:

  • The Australian Classification Board
  • Classifcacao Indicativa, which covers Brazil
  • The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which looks after North America
  • Pan European Game Information (Pegi), which is used by the UK and 29 other European countries
  • Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle, which is specific to Germany
  • Australian Classification Board

Generic ratings are assigned to territories without a participating authority. There is also a variant set of ages used for App ratings in South Korea.

Google also notes the possible ratings:

  • Unrated
  • Refused Classification.