July 21, 2005

My Take On "Hot Coffee," Part 2

Yesterday, I made a post about why I believed that the code and assets required for the "Hot Coffee" mod may have inadvertently made it onto the "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" master.

Today, I want to briefly address the ESRB, and say what I think could have stopped most of this uproar dead in its tracks...be more public.

This is not the first time that the ESRB has revoked and re-rated a title, although by looking at the news, you'd think it was. I have first-hand knowledge of a title that had their "Teen" rating revoked after a cheat code that enabled "excessive blood and gore" was found for their game.

The publisher of this title had to do many of the things that Rockstar is now claiming that they are doing voluntarily: sticker all units in the channel with the new "Mature" rating, remaster with the code removed, release a patch that removed the code, etc. The publisher also had to pay a fairly hefty fee to the ESRB. Once all that was done, however, the publisher was able to apply to have the "Teen" rating restored, and it was.

However, you most likely have never heard about this. There are many non-disclosure agreements in place in this industry, and some are designed to keep things like this that are believed to affect sales quiet. The only evidence you may find are some reviews that were published while the product was still rated "Mature."

So it's time for the veil of secrecy to end. The ESRB should publicize actions like this to show that they are being effective. If enforcement is more visible, violations are less likely to occur.

Right now, studies show that 83% of parents agree with the ESRB ratings on titles. You can't even get 83% of parents to agree on a proper means of discipline. The ESRB system works. Now it just needs to be open.

1 comment:

Ben said...

I agree with how they must be more open about such things, but looking objectively I have to mention that alot of their labels are pretty vague. Many titles have different ratings, yet list the same reasons. I think this particular area could be revamped a bit, but otherwise they do a good job at how they collect the information about the games they stamp their ratings on.