John Riccitiello, head of Electronic Arts, told a group of politicians in Washington, DC last night that video games need an universal rating system for all gaming platforms and all countries. The group included both the FCC Commissioner and the Chairman as well as the chairman of ESRB board. Was this a political gathering to discuss the future of gaming? No, Riccitiello imparted these words of wisdom during his acceptance speech for the Media Institute's annual American Horizaon Award given to him for his "visionary leadership in promoting the vitality and indepence of his industry."
The following are excerpts from Riccitiello's speech, thanks to Polygon.
We live in an incredible age. In the past three years the audience for games has grown from roughly 200 million, to over one billion. Virtually everyone on the planet who owns a phone, can play a game. The Supreme Court has given us the same First Amendment rights as authors, musicians and film makers — a set of rights which we cherish.
But as we are so often told: With great freedom, comes great responsibility. To live up to that responsibility, we need to do a better job informing the consumer, no matter the channel, the platform or the geography. We must adopt a self-regulated, global rating system across every format games are played on.
We're at a point in history when we've never been so free to create and distribute content," he continued. "But we're also at a point when we need to update the way we inform consumers. Consumers are finding many new places to get their games — Facebook, Google, Apple, as well as services likeand Origin. Most have a rating system, but none are consistent. Consequently, we are confusing the consumer.
We must move beyond the alphabet soup of game ratings and consolidate behind a single standard that consumers will recognize and, ultimately, demand.
Amen, Mr. Riccitiello.
While companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple may want to have their own rating system for branding and marketing reasons, these separate ratings do confuse the consumer, which affects the industry overall. Wouldn't it be nice for parents who aren't as knowledgeable about the gaming industry to be able to look at a rating for any game, no matter where the game can be played, and know exactly what the rating means?
At least, according to Riccitiello, the ESRB has been making some progress with Google, Facebook, and Apple on this matter. Maybe with this speech last night, more attention will be called to the issue and the groups will be able to agree on a system soon, so they can start meeting with international rating groups and make this ideal a reality.