Yesterday a Government white Paper, the Digital Britain report, outlined the future of UK games classification.
PEGI will now become the sole age ratings system in the UK, replacing the current hybrid model that uses both the PEGI system and BBFC’s.
The government’s decision does seem to be in line with the interests of the development community. In 2008, around 90 per cent of ELSPA members said they would prefer the PEGI ratings system more than the BBFC’s.
"The Government has made absolutely the right decision for child safety. By choosing PEGI as the single classification system in the UK, British children will now get the best possible protection when playing videogames either on a console or on the internet.” Mike Rawlinson, ELSPA Director General
"In my review to government I identified the need to improve the videogames classification system. The PEGI system has been strengthened since my review and the Government has consulted widely on each of my suggested criteria. I support the Government's decision to combine the PEGI system with UK statutory oversight.”
Professor Tanya Byron
“The BBFC has always supported PEGI and wished it well, but it continues to believe that it satisfies these requirements better than PEGI.”
David Cooke, BBFC Director
Yet the situation turned out to be not so straightforward. The Video Standards Council (VSC) has also been handed new powers.
The independent group is authorised to implement the PEGI classification system for all video games in the UK.
It will be responsible for ensuring that all games set for retail in the UK comply with PEGI’s regulations. The VSC will be given the power to ban games which do not comply with PEGI standards.
“VSC will exercise this new power independently of the PEGI system, providing a fail-safe for the UK – protecting children through PEGI and addressing UK-specific sensibilities by refusing classification of any game which falls foul of the Video Recordings Act.”
– Baroness Shephard, President of the Video Standards Council
Sources close to Develop sister site MCV have explained that there’s not yet a timeline in place to implement the changes. Also, an imminent general election could also bring about a sizable delay to the implementation of the PEGI system.
Meanwhile, the new PEGI symbol system has been unveiled. Looking very similar to the BBFC’s system, the age rating logos will be coloured red for the more mature games, green for the more universal, and yellow for those between the extremes.
PEGI’s age symbols are arranged as 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18.
A number of publishers, platform holders and members of the industry have already offered their support regarding the Government’s decision.
“The Government has made the right decision. The PEGI age rating system is right for the protection of children as it is designed specifically for games and interactive content. As a global company we welcome the decision as mature and intelligent as it works across some 30 international territories.”
David Yarnton, UK General Manager, Nintendo
“The adoption of PEGI as the rating system for games is a good decision. The PEGI system is future-proof, delivering effective child protection now and in the future. PEGI Online is a key component of the system, ensuring that the government does not have to re-assess the entire system once again in 12 months time.”
Rob Cooper, Managing Director, Ubisoft UK
“This is an important decision for the UK public. PEGI is the only system that has the power to prevent games publishers distributing unsuitable content to children.”
Mike Hayes, President and CEO, Sega Europe
“We welcome the government's decision. PEGI is the right choice to protect children from inappropriate gaming content, and best suited to continue to do so in the future as interactive entertainment moves increasingly online. We applaud this collaboration between government and industry to find the best solution for consumers and for the UK marketplace.”
Keith Ramsdale, Vice President and General Manager, EA UK, Ireland and Nordics
“This is the right decision for the UK consumer. The PEGI system is specifically built for interactive content both on and offline and is recognised throughout Europe. In a connected digital world, implementing age rating standards that are understood across traditional frontiers will protect children from unsuitable content and help to educate parents at the same time.”
– Andy Payne, Managing Director, Mastertronic Group Ltd and Chairman, ELSPA
“This is the right decision, the most important issue to be considered is that of child safety. A single PEGI system is by far the best means of promoting child safety; given the fact that PEGI is used for offline and online games in 29 countries across Europe. In a globalised market where children can play video games online across borders, this decision will provide clarity and consistency in deciding what games are appropriate or children and in enforcing those decisions – now and in the future.”
– Neil Thompson, Senior Regional Director UK & Ireland Entertainment & Devices Division, Microsoft