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ESRB Outlines Publisher Fines 38 38

1up reports that the ESRB has laid out what publishers can expect if they step out of line regarding game content. From the article: "Vance says the ESRB has the power to enforce up to $1 million in monetary fines for the 'most egregious offenses,' and could potentially suspend publisher's access to the ratings system. Most retailers will not carry games without a rating. Further corrective actions could include pulling advertising until content's corrected, stickered packaging, product recalls and 'other steps the publisher must take.'"
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ESRB Outlines Publisher Fines

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  • I really hate that non-government entities have the power to place massive fines. Really. The ESRB is a voluntary rating system. No game company is required by any law that I'm aware of to submit their games to any ratings system. Ah, but then the game company is given bad public relations if they don't submit because of the likelihood of extremist, "pro-family" organizations and activist lawmakers like Tompson (and possibly the ESRB itself) accusing them of having something to hide even they have nothing to hide but don't want to submit to a rating on principle.
    The ESRB is now no different than the MPAA. No legal bindings; a completely voluntary system. But if you don't submit your material for ratings you risk getting banned by the outlets that you would depend on for selling your products. And of course by submitting your material you agree to be subjected to any fines that the ratings boards feels it can place upon you.

    If the ESRB were a consumer group instead of a trade group, and somebody misrepresented the content of their games, they'd have to take the software publisher to court on negligent misrepresentation. Despite the name, the fine is really liquidated damages; it says, "your subverting the rating system hurt our public credibility this much, and you agreed in advance to pay us back." The $1M cap means the fines never get so high that a publisher has an incentive to take ESRB to court and risk derailing the entire system one way or another.

    And I don't know of anybody (wholesaler, retailer, et c.) who would blackball an entire publisher because they didn't submit one game for ratings. Just like movies, that one edgy title has to find its own way, but the next mainstream release can still be rated and distributed in mainstream channels.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:59PM (#15545775)
    "I really hate that non-government entities have the power to place massive fines."

    Would you rather have the ESRB get the FTC involved? True regulation? Because that's what would happen if the industry did not adequately self-police.
    I really don't think any publisher wants FTC involvement.

    "extremist, "pro-family"

    Your argument just went out the window with that one.
    The real extremists wouldn't allow the stuff on the market in the first place.

    "accusing them of having something to hide even they have nothing to hide but don't want to submit to a rating on principle. "

    Would we be in this position if Rockstar hadn't lied in their first public statement about the GTA incident?

    "The ESRB is now no different than the MPAA."

    And yet the MPAA no longer has the Hayes code.

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." -- Dr. Seuss

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