Age ratings ensure that entertainment content – such as films, DVDs, and games – is clearly labelled for the minimum age group for which it is suitable. Age ratings provide guidance to consumers to help them decide whether or not to buy a particular product. Since 2012, PEGI has been the sole system used in the UK for new console and PC games.
Many thousands of games have been PEGI-rated since the scheme was devised and introduced in early 2003. It is important to note that in the UK, PEGI 12, 16 and 18 ratings are legally enforceable, meaning that they cannot be supplied to persons below those respective age bars. The body responsible for applying UK PEGI ratings is the VSC Rating Board.
Essentially, the PEGI rating on a game confirms that it contains content suitable for a certain age group and above. So a 7-rated game is suitable for everyone who is seven or older, while an 18-rated game is deemed suitable for adults only. It is not, however, a measure of who will enjoy the game or how difficult that game is. When buying a game for anyone under the age of 18, always look at the age rating to check it is suitable for the intended end-user. Adult games contain adult only content, so you should treat them just like any other 18-rated medium.
In-Game Purchases also signify whether a game includes random items (like loot boxes or card packs), the information will be included in the form of a notice (Includes Paid Random Items) on physical packaging and on digital storefronts.
Paid random items are a particular form of optional in-game purchases. This will include all in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums where players don’t know exactly what they are getting prior to the purchase (e.g. loot boxes, card packs, prize wheels).
With tablets and smartphones becoming ever more powerful it is no surprise that video games are as at home on these multifaceted gadgets as they are on dedicated handheld consoles. Because of this it is important to understand age-rating systems for iOS, Android and Windows devices. This is now simpler with PEGI ratings being applied to all products in the Google Play (Android) and Windows stores.
The PEGI system is based on six age categories and eight content descriptors. The age categories indicate whether an interactive software product is appropriate for children from a certain age. The age categories are: 3, 7, 12, 16, 18 and ‘Parental Guidance Recommended’ (which is used for certain apps). In addition to the numerical PEGI ratings, you will also see the ‘Parental Guidance Recommended!’ rating for some non-game apps. This serves as warning that these apps can offer a broad variety of user generated or curated content so it’s best to take a look at the app yourself to see how it’s being used. Typically, this applies to products such as Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.
For more information on particular PEGI ratings including a comprehensive examiners report the VSC Game Rating Board offer excellent extended guidance on its website.