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FTC: Video game retailers best at enforcing age ratings

2:31 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
ESRB ratings are meant to guide consumers towards age-appropriate video game titles.
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Video game retailers continue to remain the best at enforcing age ratings, according to a new study from the Federal Trade Commission.

Only 13% of shoppers under the age of 17 were able to buy a video game carrying a rating of M for Mature, finds the survey. By comparison, 24% of minors were able to buy a ticket to an R-rated film, 30% bought an R-rated DVD and 47% bought a CD with an explicit lyrics warning label.

"We applaud video game retailers for once again demonstrating our industry's ongoing commitment to parents," says Patricia Vance, president of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, in a statement. "Enforcement of video game sales policies continues to be substantially higher than that for any other entertainment industry."

The FTC sent several 13- to 16-year-olds to stores in the U.S. to purchase mature content without parents present. The study was conducted between April and June of last year.

Six stores were examined for the video game portion of the FTC survey: Best Buy, GameStop, Kmart, Target, Toys 'R' Us and Walmart. Target was the most compliant during the survey, denying M-rated game purchases by underage shoppers 100% of the time. Walmart was the worst, allowing 25% of minors to make a purchase.

While video game retailers held steady, others achieved significant improvements in enforcing ratings.

"Our underage shopper survey shows continued progress in reducing sales," said Charles Harwood, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. "But retailers can still strengthen their commitment to limit children's access to products that are rated or labeled as potentially inappropriate for them."

- by Brett Molina, USA Today

USA Today

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