ESRB Announces New Digital Ratings System

by Jeff Cork on Oct 24, 2012 at 03:48 AM

ESRB ratings have become a familiar sight on game boxes, but they have been conspicuously absent on digitally distributed games. That's about to change, according to an announcement from the nonprofit organization.

The ratings, which developers can add at no cost, are designed to help players navigate through not only content but what kinds of services the games are using. Ideally, that means consumers will not only get guidance on whether a game features graphic violence or drug use, but also whether a game shares a user's location or provides unscreened access to user-generated content. Ratings will be assigned after developers fill out a questionnaire.

The ESRB's president, Patricia Vance, says the new system will provide consistency across a variety of platforms, which often have their own content ratings. The first wave of games to incorporate the new ratings system will be titles appearing on Xbox Live Arcade, PSN, Nintendo eShop, and Windows 8. Other digital distributors will adopt the ratings at a later point.