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Thread: PEGI ratings for the UK

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    Default PEGI ratings for the UK

    I'm having trouble finding out the details, but does one have to obtain a PEGI rating now in the UK to sell games (eg by download)?

    Because that's priced at E1000 which seems rather a lot of overhead for small titles....

    If it is the case, that's going to put a lot of cold water on people trying out ideas.
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    I'm left wondering the same thing.

    I'd also like to know: If it turns out downloadable games do require a rating, will the UK government demand that foreign online publishers comply with the law's requirements, or only UK online publishers?

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    Ratings like the ESRB tend to be a requirement only imposed by retail outlets. There shouldn't be anything stopping you from self imposing/offering a rating for internet sales (eg. "For ages 4+" for a family friendly title). Just be sure not to infringe on the trade/image marks of PEGI/ESRB. It's all about being a responsible business.
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    What was the old BBFC system like? From what I remember, the UK could imposed bans on games it felt was especially objectionable, but by default a game would be allowed even without rating. Has things changed now PEGI is the standard?

    In Australia, the OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification) have to rate every game that gets sold here at retail by law - it's not an informal guideline set up by the retailers. Since classification costs somewhere between one and two thousand dollars if you aren't a trained assessor, it's a pretty steep price for indies to access the small Australian market.

    Unfortunately, the guidelines here are extremely vague about whether downloadable games must be covered. What their website says is "Downloadable computer games can be submitted for classification" (emphasis mine), and if you are unsure about whether it should be classsified, seek legal advice. Not exactly helpful. I haven't yet seen a worldwide downloadable service here that enforces it though, mostly because they're worldwide services. Even some online Aussie retailers like Harvey Norman don't bother, as their service is provided from a partner company in the US (they use ESRB ratings instead). It's only games (and films and literature) sold as physical media through brick and mortar retail outlets that seem to have to enforce it.

    I can't speak for the UK though, as I've only read up on the Australian law. I suspect that like here it's something that lawmakers just haven't considered. It's also something they can't really regulate - it's not as if the Australian government can prosecute all the indies that have sold me games online.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave TZ View Post
    What was the old BBFC system like? From what I remember, the UK could imposed bans on games it felt was especially objectionable, but by default a game would be allowed even without rating. Has things changed now PEGI is the standard?
    The past
    The BBFC is designated as a body able to classify movies (and games) under the Video Recordings Act 1984. However it is not a legal requirement to get a game classified unless it meets the criteria necessary for it to be classified 18 or 18R.
    The BBFC classifies videos, DVDs and some video games under the Video Recordings Act 1984. (The video games covered by the VRA are those whose exemption is forfeited under section 2(2) because they depict human sexual activity, gross violence or other matters of concern.)
    If you distribute a film/game without a classification which is later found to require an 18 rating you could face a hefty fine and/or imprisonment.

    The above has led to a two tier system with originally The Video Standards Council/ELSPA and now PEGI rating games that do not require an 18 rating and the BBFC rating anything that does require an 18 rating.

    As of now
    Following the Byron report and some hard lobbying by various trade bodies the UK government have decided that the BBFC will no longer be involved in rating games. The PEGI system will be adopted (PEGI now UK ratings system) which will be managed in the UK by The Video Standards Council (VSC/PEGI Article)

    I for one welcome our new PEGI overlords (just because it means one less body to deal with in Europe.)

    Ratings and digital distribution? I don't know the answer to this. I seem to recall that digital distribution is exempt from ratings at this time but I may well be wrong. I do know that if you publish via XBLA or PSN then MS/Sony require that your game be rated (no idea about Wiiware).

    Could ratings be enforced against overseas companies? It is unlikely that the UK police would turn up on your doorstep, but they could target you indirectly by going after the money earned. They could target the payment processing companies and seize money earned. Of course for that to happen your game would have to be pretty high profile.

    I guess we will find out about digital distribution and ratings in the coming months.
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    I'll give a fck about complying with UK ratings law when they give a fck about applying the existing laws against people stealing my games.
    Till then, sod em.

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    Amen brother!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    I'll give a fck about complying with UK ratings law when they give a fck about applying the existing laws against people stealing my games.
    Till then, sod em.
    Unfortunately, the law does not care about striking such bargains. If it turns out the law does require downloadable games to be rated, you'll have no choice but to rate if you wish to avoid punishment.

    I just long for the day when parents have to decide for themselves which games are appropriate for their X-year-old kids instead of governments forcing publishers to seek the judgment of an outside third party such as PEGI.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    I'll give a fck about complying with UK ratings law when they give a fck about applying the existing laws against people stealing my games.
    Till then, sod em.
    Copyright infringement is governed by civil law and as such the person responsible for taking action is you. If your not happy with the action being taken against infringers you wont even need a stamp on the letter in order to complain to yourself.
    Dan Marchant
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    It's only a requirement for retail distribution anyway afaik? so it's up to your 'retail publisher' to sort out in reality unless you distribute/publish directly to retail yourself methinks.

    Apple have recently enforced self cert. ratings on iPhone/iTouch titles as of recently on launch of OS 3.0 and that's digital not physical... maybe in time everything will have to be rated under a PEGI scheme? I hope not really as it's yet another tax on the smaller developer otherwise.
    Last edited by Adrian Cummings; 06-17-2009 at 10:44 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obscure View Post
    Copyright infringement is governed by civil law and as such the person responsible for taking action is you. If your not happy with the action being taken against infringers you wont even need a stamp on the letter in order to complain to yourself.
    I can see how its all my fault that thieving scum take my work for free. I'm so annoyed with myself.

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    Yeah Cliffski, you should know better...
    Mike Kasprzak | sykhronics entertainment | Blog | twitter | Ludum Dare
    Smiles + HD (It's on everything™, IGF finalist, won a car) | ??? (2013) | MORE: Book, PuffBOMB, Towlr
    Hey you what's up yo? Kickin' it oldskool style!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    I can see how its all my fault that thieving scum take my work for free. I'm so annoyed with myself.
    Well of course. It's your fault cos you do don't write 100% pirate proof code
    Dan Marchant
    obscure productions
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