Thursday, May 08, 2008

Well, Isn't This Interesting

From the Federal Trade Commission (thanks Kotaku):
The Federal Trade Commission today released the results of its latest nationwide undercover shop of movie theaters and movie, music, and video game retailers. The FTC conducted a survey with 13-to-16-year-old undercover shoppers to collect data about the extent to which retailers prevent unaccompanied children from buying tickets to R-rated movies, R-rated DVDs, Unrated DVDs of movies that were R-rated in theaters, M-rated video games, and music CDs labeled with a Parental Advisory Label – β€œPAL” – for explicit content.

The survey found that 20% of underage teenage shoppers were able to buy M-rated video games, a major improvement from all prior surveys, and down from 42% in 2006.

20%? What was that number in 2000? Oh, yeah--85%.

Here's the progression:

I've written frequently that Jack Thompson and his diseased brethren dry up and blow away if the ESRB worked with retailers to clean this up, and by any standard, they have. 20% is still 20% too many, but look at a comparison between video games and other media (percentage of underage teenage shoppers able to purchase):
M-rated video game--20%
R-rated movie ticket--35%
R-rated DVD--47%
Unrated DVD--51%
PAL Music CD--56%

That's an ass-kicking delivered by the ESRB, which I'm sure is the first time I've ever written those words.

Even inside the same store, games were more difficult to buy. Take a look:
R-rated DVD--25%
Unrated DVD--25%
M-rated video game--18%

R-rated DVD--65%
Unrated DVD--77%
PAL Music CD--60%
M-rated video game--29%

Best Buy
R-rated DVD--62%
Unrated DVD--83%
PAL Music CD--53%
M-rated video game--20%

Oh, and what was the number for Gamestop/EB? 6%. Well done.

This is actually an issue where the Entertainment Software Association, Congress, and retailers are in agreement. The fulcrum has always been shoddy enforcement of age requirements at retail. If the ESRB can continue to push point-of-purchase displays and retailer education, this number should continue to go down. And like I said, the entire debate is over once this happens. There's no controversy when underaged consumers can't buy the content.

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