The ESRB, the group which gives software age ratings in the US, is beginning to enforce age restrictions on game trailers. The first victim is D3’s Dark Sector, and the ESRB have demanded that the trailer be removed from the internet. You have to wonder how a voluntary organisation has the clout to enforce anything when its members could simply leave.
Take Two has again incurred the wrath of the raters, hot on the heels of the AO rating for Manhunt 2 they have received a letter from the ESRB requiring them to ‘Age-gate’ their trailer for The Darkness if it is to be made available online.
While I fully recognise the need for a ratings system to allow consumers to make informed choices about what they’re buying. I don’t think that rating trailers online is productive or even enforceable. All the ‘Age-gating’ that I’ve seen online has consisted of drop down lists where the user picks their birthdate from the available options, there is no way of verifying that they’re telling the truth. There really is no impediment to a 12 year old giving a false birthdate and being able to view the trailer, and who stands over their kids all the time while they use the computer? I know I certainly don’t.
Either the ESRB is actually trying to do some good with this move, or they’ve been given an ego boost by the recent furore over Manhunt 2 and are flexing their new found muscles.