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FTC Mystery Shopper Shows Improvement

Filed under: General Gaming
Posted by Jeremy on March 31, 2006 8:13 AM
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The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) is pleased with the results of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) undercover mystery shopper program which shows great improvement in keeping violent games out of the hands of kids and in enforcing and displaying the ratings system. In 2000, the last time such a study was commissioned, 85% of minors were able to purchase M-rated games. Now, that number has dropped to 35%. Game retailers were also more likely to "card" a customer attempting to buy an M-rated game: 15% of the time in 2000, 50% of the time in 2005. All in all, this is good news for game retailers and the self-regulating video game ratings system, Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

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PRESS RELEASE

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New FTC Game Shopper Survey Shows Major Improvement in Retail Ratings Enforcement; Game Retailers Pleased With Results

Self-regulatory carding efforts see success rates skyrocket

WILTON, CT (March 30, 2006) - A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Undercover Mystery Shopper released today shows dramatic improvement in retail enforcement of computer and video game ratings over the past five years, a result applauded by the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA), the trade group that represents the $10-billion-dollar computer and video game industry's leading retailers. The rate at which minors were able to purchase Mature-rated games dropped from 85% in 2000 to today's level of 35% for IEMA member companies, who collectively account for approximately seventy-five percent of the industry's volume.

"I am exceedingly proud of our member companies and their commitment to self-regulation in stemming the sale of Mature-rated games to minors," said Hal Halpin, president of the IEMA. "The FTC's results very clearly indicate that the nation's leading retailers of games have steadily improved and are quickly approaching the compliance rates of the Gold Standard, movie theatre owners. In the two years since our carding policy, we have made significant and tangible progress in working with our partners in the industry, with empowering and educating parents, and with those concerned with the issue. And with the industry responding in such a visible and proactive fashion, it is clear that legislative efforts are simply not required."

The study also showed major improvements in retailers across the board in levels of "carding" underage kids who tried to buy M-rated games (an increase from 15% to 50% from 2000 to 2005), as well as a significant increase in the number of stores which provide information about the rating system to their customers (from 12% in 2000 to 44% in 2005). IEMA members carded kids 55% of the time, and posted information about the rating system 51% of the time.

"Today's FTC shopping survey results affirm what we've been saying, which is that voluntary retail enforcement of video game ratings works, and that retailers are genuinely dedicated to making their enforcement policies succeed," said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. "The fact is retail enforcement of video game ratings is now equal to or even better than that of any other media. With that said, retailers must continue to move forward with these important efforts, and we know they remain committed to even higher enforcement levels in the months ahead."

"The significant, across-the-board increases in retailer enforcement and education indicate strong support of ESRB ratings, particularly among national retailers, which account for 90% of total game sales," said Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) president Patricia E. Vance. "Store policy compliance has improved three-fold since 2000 when the FTC first conducted these studies, and we will continue to work with retailers in their efforts to train store associates and educate their customers about ESRB ratings."

The FTC's press release on its study can be found at:
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/03/videogameshop.htm

About the IEMA:
The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) is the non-profit trade association dedicated to serving the business interests of leading retailers that sell interactive entertainment software (including video and computer games,
multimedia entertainment, peripherals and other software). Member companies of the IEMA collectively account for approximately seventy-five percent of the $10 billion
annual interactive entertainment business in the United States.
[http://www.iema.org]






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