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ESRB Rating Category Breakdown 2007  (Source:
94 percent of videogames are certified for youngsters

2007 was the biggest year yet for videogames, as the ESRB assigned ratings to 1,563 games, most of which contained content suitable for even the youngest gamers. Even with the gaming market growing out of its “just for kids” demographic and image, games rated “M” for mature are on the decline.

According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), games rated M accounted for only 6 percent of all release in 2007. In 2006, 8 percent of games were rated M, which was also a decline from the 12 percent in 2005.

In contrast, games rated “E” for everyone saw the largest increase, account for nearly 60 percent of all games rated in 2007. The “E10+” for everyone 10 and older accounted for 15 percent, and “T” for teens 13+ claimed 20 percent.

According to the ESRB, the decline in M rated games and growth of E rated games “is due in part to the recent influx of casual games for the PC, handheld devices and online arcades,” as noted by Joystiq.

“This past holiday season was the biggest ever for video games, contributing to record-breaking sales in 2007 of nearly $19 billion in the U.S. alone,” wrote ESRB president Patricia Vance. “And although we tend to hear from the media most about the more controversial Mature-rated games, the reality is that 8.5 out of every 10 games sold last year were rated as appropriate for ages 13 or younger ... And, as you'll see [in the chart], 94 percent of the ratings we assigned were for games appropriate for ages 13 or younger.”

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Sad day
By FITCamaro on 2/8/2008 8:10:52 AM , Rating: 2
We can thank people like Jack Thompson and other content nazis who want to control what games we're able to play for this.

I'm not one who enjoys games like Manhunt or other games like that. But people should have the option to play them. And if you don't want your 12 year old kid to play them, it's your responsibility to stop them from playing it. Not the game manufacturers duty to not make the game at all.

Games like GTA are enjoyable games. Are they for a 12 year old? No. If you let your 12 year old play it, don't complain to Rockstar when your kid starts cussing. People like Thompson claim these games are dangerous for kids to play. Well blame the person who let them play it (aka. the parent). Not the manufacturer who released it, got it rated at a level that restricts younger children from playing it, and offered it for sale. I worked at Best Buy when GTA3 and Vice City were released. I don't know how many parents I checked out who were buying their young kid a PS2 and those games. I would even ask them sometimes, "Do you know whats in this game?", and they would say "Yes.".

RE: Sad day
By kelmon on 2/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: Sad day
By straycat74 on 2/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: Sad day
By ioKain on 2/8/2008 9:12:21 AM , Rating: 5
gears of war, f.e.a.r., mass effect, bioshock, cod4.....

I could go on.


RE: Sad day
By qwertyz on 2/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: Sad day
By qwertyz on 2/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: Sad day
By Souka on 2/8/2008 11:48:28 AM , Rating: 2
Well for all ya sensitive folk new game for ya...

My Horse & Me

For PC and Wii is out now...

RE: Sad day
By ZaethDekar on 2/8/2008 12:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
You know whats funny?

My girlfriend and I were at BestBuy a few days ago and she picks it up and says 'Hunny, can I pwease get it?' I told her she can get it if she buys me a PS3 80GB with any 1 game I choose along with 1 Blu-Ray movie.

She didn't say no.... and with V-Day coming up...

RE: Sad day
By Polynikes on 2/8/2008 1:18:30 PM , Rating: 2
If your girlfriend didn't laugh in your face or isn't disgustingly rich, you may want to find a new one.

Because she's off her rocker if she's considering such a thing.

RE: Sad day
By mezman on 2/8/2008 2:26:54 PM , Rating: 5
I'd hit that.

RE: Sad day
By xzc145 on 2/8/2008 9:06:53 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed, obviously all film and drama makers should stop using swear words and all emotional response should be drained from media just in case it offends someone......that would make for a fun world wouldn't it...

Nobody but nobody should have the right to limit freedom of speech.

But having the right to freedom of speech does not mean that you should go out and insult people ;-)

RE: Sad day
By kelmon on 2/11/2008 8:21:29 AM , Rating: 2
Way to miss the point. I am not advocating censorship (beyond restricting access to violent games to children) but rather taking issue with the idea that using "bad words", etc somehow makes you "mature". I swear far too much but I don't pretend that doing so makes me more "mature" since, if anything, it means the polar opposite.

RE: Sad day
By FITCamaro on 2/8/2008 9:12:31 AM , Rating: 5
It's not really the swearing or the sexual content that makes it Mature. The violence alone makes it a Mature title. Would taking out the swearing ruin the game? No. Would taking out the sex? No. But you can't take the violence out of the game since then its not the game it is.

RE: Sad day
By saiga6360 on 2/8/2008 11:01:03 AM , Rating: 1
Do you really think it would be rated Mature if it was just for violence? Not in the US. For some reason, our censors don't have a problem with that but they sure have a hang-up over nudity and sex. Of course, there is also a certain context it needs to fit under. For instance, violence depicted against law-enforcement, children is frowned upon.

For the most part these rating systems are hypocritical so what's the big deal? 'Mature' themed games and movies will always be around, someone will always make them because no one is really stopping them. They just have to sell well, that is all.

RE: Sad day
By JustTom on 2/8/2008 11:11:38 AM , Rating: 4
Do you really think it would be rated Mature if it was just for violence? Not in the US.

Halo 3 is rated M, and I don't think it is for Cortana's skimpy outfit.

RE: Sad day
By StevoLincolnite on 2/8/2008 11:22:23 AM , Rating: 2
Awwww, Why not?

RE: Sad day
By therealnickdanger on 2/8/2008 11:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
There is no hypocrisy, every game is rated according to its content. A game with all violence and no sex is every bit as likely to get an "M" rating as a game with no violence and lots of sex/innuendo. Gears of War VS Leisure Suit Larry.

I guess that's the problem. People who identify sex and violence as the same category interpret a higher sensitivity to sex as being hypocritical. It's nothing of the kind. Hypocrisy would be rating Gears of War "T" and then Ratchet and Clank "M", according to their respective violence. Hypocrisy would be rating The Sims "M" and Leisure Suit Larry "E".

I find it ridiculous that people even consider violence and sex to be an apples-to-apples comparison in the first place. Just because they are both used as criteria by which to rate movies, TV, and games according to certain standards does not infer that they are in any way related. They are so completely opposite in their cause, effect, and context.

RE: Sad day
By saiga6360 on 2/8/2008 12:00:17 PM , Rating: 3
Just from my observation of past movies, I noticed some have managed to escape the R Rating despite having graphic violence while others that had brief nudity and sexual situations have not been so lucky. So pardon me if I see the hypocrisy in that. It may be that the way they rate games are a lot better so I apologize for lumping them together like that. It may be that movie ratings have improved a lot lately, I haven't been to the theaters in months so I apologize if that ugly trend is not a thing of the past.

In any case, the downtrend in M rated games should not be taken all too seriously because it happens all the time and it never stopped anyone from making them and having some success with actually selling them.

RE: Sad day
By murphyslabrat on 2/9/2008 10:41:10 PM , Rating: 2
Then you get a movie like Airplane. Brief but blatant nudity, and it got a PG.

Hypocrisy that, my friend. It's called "money"

RE: Sad day
By UNHchabo on 2/8/2008 5:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
I agree in general, especially when it comes to movies. Kill someone with a lead pipe over the head and the movie can still be PG, but show one boob and it's R. However, there are plenty of examples in gaming of "merely" violent games getting M-ratings. The Half-Life series, for instance.

RE: Sad day
By kelmon on 2/11/2008 8:16:36 AM , Rating: 2
It's definitely true that GTA would not be the game that it is without the violence but I'd still disagree that it's a "Mature" game. A digital version of "Boyz N The Hood", GTA is not. Like most games that earn themselves a "Mature" rating it's actually pretty immature stuff. I'm not so much taking issue with the game itself but just the suggestion that it is "mature" - say it contains violence, swearing, sexual references and should not be sold to under 16's and I'm cool with it since that's an accurate description.

RE: Sad day
By ioKain on 2/8/2008 10:35:28 AM , Rating: 5
Honestly, why is this post rated so high? Don't group every M rated game into the "Rockstar" category. Games like Resident Evil 4 is rated M and has excellent game play. It's one of the highest rated games of all time. There are lots of M rated games that are some of the best ever made, COD 4 is another example.

I didn't realize there were so many Jack Thompson fanboys on this site.

RE: Sad day
By Mitch101 on 2/8/2008 10:49:07 AM , Rating: 2
DailyTech being sabotaged?

I have been wondering the same lately. It seems to me the direction of the site has gone wonky the last month. Strange posts in the last month seem to get high ratings and some are just dropped for no good reasons.

I have heard of a few people creating multiple accounts just to vote down posts.

Maybe the voting needs to be revised because there are a lot of -1 posts that the comments are very good on that make great points but because they disagree with someone they get several other accounts to just vote the item down.

In the last month I have been reading quite a few of the -1 posts. A lot are well deserved but quite a bit lately aren't worthy of -1 status.

I generally like FitCamaro's comments but as of late he is taking a beating and I don't see any real reason why in a lot of the comments.

RE: Sad day
By napalmjack on 2/8/2008 11:17:20 AM , Rating: 2
I've felt the same way. FIT's comments are usually well thought out and always grammatically correct.
Any post where I have to sift through the spelling/grammar/run-on sentences is a post that is probably going to get rated down by me.

RE: Sad day
By HighWing on 2/8/2008 2:25:00 PM , Rating: 2
Mature games, in my experience, tend to be anything but "mature". Putting some swearing, sexual references/material, and blood 'n' guts does not make something mature.

I think you're completely missing the point. Everyone knows that mature games aren't always by definition "mature" content, game play, etc. The point is that in order to really understand it and have fun with the game, and not go out and emulate it, you have to BE mature.

Personally though, I don't see how this chart really means anything more other then it's surface facts. If you really want to make any guesses or judgments on this area then you should also be looking at the sales numbers of the games in each category. Just because more games came out, doesn't mean they all sold well and vice versa. And seriously this is only one year of sales....Missed deadlines, and current pop trends are other factors to when and what games come out.

IMHO if anyone is trying to say anything more using these numbers, then that only proves how narrow your view of the world is.

RE: Sad day
By kelmon on 2/11/2008 8:30:25 AM , Rating: 2
Everyone knows that mature games aren't always by definition "mature" content, game play, etc.

Exactly correct and essentially the point that I was making. The games do not contain "mature" content and therefore I don't see the point in branding them as such, not least because they give them an inflated appearance of intellectual content. However, I honestly don't see how you'd police whether someone was "mature enough" to buy a violent game. Just stick an age restriction on the title and clearly mark what it contains.

Interestingly I've never been given a -1 rating before or been quoted a Wikipedia article.

RE: Sad day
By Wightout on 2/8/2008 2:48:43 PM , Rating: 1
Being that the game is based on stealing cars I dont think it can be a not rated anything less then "M"...

If it was possible to make this game anything less then "M" then people would start complaining about subliminal messages...

No offense, but the idea of taking a game called "Grand Theft Auto" and turning it into a game that CAN be played by little kids disgusts me.

There is a reason some material in LIFE is considers mature. Why should games be any different?

RE: Sad day
By Wightout on 2/8/2008 2:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
doh woot for grammar lessons...

*Being that the game is based up stealing cars I don't this it should be rated less then "M"*

RE: Sad day
By EvixKeth on 2/10/2008 1:13:39 AM , Rating: 1
I think you're misunderstanding. The rating is that it's for mature audiences who can take in that sort of violent/sexual/offensive content without being adversely affected, unlike the mind of a young child, which is easily influence by that sort of material.

RE: Sad day
By mdogs444 on 2/8/2008 8:31:15 AM , Rating: 3
We can thank people like Jack Thompson and other content nazis who want to control what games we're able to play for this.

Although, yes, Jack Thompson is a nanny-state douchebag much like most certain sided politicians preaching nanny-state policies....I dont think he's to blame for this. There is a reason that 59% of games are for "Everyone" - its called strategic marketing. There is a much larger seller base when you are targeting everyone to buy your game, rather than when you are targeting a small group of gamers.
I'm not one who enjoys games like Manhunt or other games like that. But people should have the option to play them

Correct me if im wrong, but people do have the option to play them. Jack Thompson hasn't actually won any cases yet, has he?
Well blame the person who let them play it (aka. the parent). Not the manufacturer who released it

I agree - and that would fall under the lines of people actually being "parents", and having "personal responsibility"....rather than believing the government should help raise their kids.

We're in agreement, but I think you're going after the wrong people.

RE: Sad day
By chick0n on 2/8/2008 9:35:40 AM , Rating: 2
ITs funny that people always pick on Video games and nothing else.

Shit like Wal-mart said they are not selling Rated Adult Video game while I see unsensored version of Saw at the shelf.

I guess Jack Thompson should shut his pie hole and get real. Next thing I know is that hes gonna blame the god cuz god made this world a mess.

RE: Sad day
By BladeVenom on 2/8/2008 12:33:34 PM , Rating: 2
The MPAA has spent lots of money over a long period of time in payouts, bribes, and lobbying. The video game industry just started their lobbying effort at the end of 2007.

RE: Sad day
By Mitch101 on 2/8/2008 10:25:01 AM , Rating: 2
I agree I dont think Jack has done Jack S**t to cause a decrease in M rated games. The market is just taking a breather from M rated gameplay. Jack makes me want to play a head bashing video game.

How many WW2 games came out in the last 2-3 years so I cant see many places looking to put out another one because its a saturated area and not original. How many Zombie/Demon/Alien style games are out there already here is another area that is overdone. This Whole M Rated area is taking a break for a little while. Heck GTA has been released so many times I'm not sure what they can do now that will refresh the series. Its not like the first time you played the game and its feeling repetitive to most.

10 million consumers are also stuck in WOW. Companies need to figure out how to tap the 10 million player market and get them off WOW and onto something else already. Wow is pretty cool but I can kill an alligator only so many times before I realize I'm killing the same creature in different places over and over. But these are mutated sea bass. Oh well thats different.

RE: Sad day
By sweetsauce on 2/8/2008 8:06:28 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think its the violence in videogames that these people have a problem with, its the fact that this violence is interractive and essentially performed by the player. We live in a society that won't let you say the word shit on tv or radio, but will show you dead bodies floating in rivers and horrific car accidents. Somewhere along the way the censorship in this country decided that violence on tv in the form of "news" is ok, but saying a word that i hear every day is not ok and will hurt our children. I really think it boils down to the interractivity of videogames. Being a vegetable and soaking in violence is ok, but heaven forbid you press a few buttons to make said violence appear on your screen.

By Shoal07 on 2/8/2008 8:17:00 AM , Rating: 5
I would be willing to make a few assumptions here - M rated games have not actually decreased, but the pure number of games has increased. The reason why M rated games haven’t increased as much (thus maintaining the 12%) is likely because A) They are the higher production value games (GTA, Mass Effect, etc) and B) there’s a s*** ton of lower production “casual” games coming out (puzzle/flash games) because they are cheap and easy to produce. Oh yeah, there almost 100% “E” rated. So, you wind up with the same amount of “M” games, maybe even a few more, but it all pales in comparison to the tons of “E” casual games released. This article makes it seem like there’s a decline or issue with M rated games but there’s simply a ton more games produced overall and the quickest and cheapest to produce are games like puggle (or poggle or whatever).

By SandmanWN on 2/8/2008 8:21:18 AM , Rating: 5
I agree. Without the actual numbers this chart doesn't mean a thing. "M" Rated games may have actually grown in number but simply did not grow as fast as "E" rated games. Most likely due to consoles like the Wii with its mostly "E" rated game base.

We need numbers DT! Not a useless chart with worthless percentages! This chart is designed to ease the fears of parents.

By JustTom on 2/8/2008 11:23:57 AM , Rating: 2
I think that games sold is much more important than games released. I don't know the actual breakdowns in sales by rating category but I am pretty sure that M rated games would have more than 6%.

By Aikouka on 2/8/2008 8:42:34 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's just casual games, but also games geared toward younger gamers on consoles. I think the biggest console/handheld pushing this is the Nintendo DS. The DS has games that appeal to all ages, but with lots of games aimed at young teens such as Hannah Montana... or the joke of last week here on DT, "Me & My Horse", there are certainly plenty of E or E-10 games.

By Kefner on 2/8/2008 10:30:53 AM , Rating: 1
Yea, this has nothing to do with "M" rated games, and everything to do with the Wii and DS. They have a lot of "E" rated games, and of course that is going to skew the numbers. They have really flooded the market with a lot of crap "E" rated games too in my opinion.

By aos007 on 2/8/2008 2:50:15 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely. I don't think you're making any big assumptions here. Anyone who follows the game releases would agree with you. +6.

Incidentally, the title of the article is quite misleading - M rated games on the decline? Nope, not in absolute sense, only relatively to total number of games released. This is the second article in so many days that has a very misleading title - the other being how the Brain Training creator wasn't "pocketing" any money from the game (he IS, just choosing to give it away later). Is DT that desperate for traffic?

Protecting people from games
By an0dize on 2/8/2008 9:10:53 AM , Rating: 2
What is with this trend of sensationalism with regard to mature rated video games? Politicians and the media take this reactionary stance toward them as if these games were some great threat to the nation. There are many, many things that pose a much greater threat to children and people in general.

As has been said here already, it is the responsibility of the parents to monitor what their children are doing. You wouldn't want your child to drink a can of acetone, but that doesn't mean it should no longer be produced.

RE: Protecting people from games
By nbachman on 2/8/2008 11:22:19 AM , Rating: 2
Things like Scientology

RE: Protecting people from games
By OPR8R on 2/8/2008 1:31:11 PM , Rating: 2
Seems to me there is no "trend". More so, this is just more of what we've always seen.

Special interest groups work hard to shape and maintain our culture through their ($$$) influence over our government. For example, I can watch a show like Heroes and see dismembered bodies fairly regularly on TV- no big deal. However, if Janet Jackson were to have another wardrobe malfunction, I don't think our civilization could recover. And I think most would agree that our youth becoming desensitized to violence is more dangerous than the effect of nipples on them.

Apparently in government politics money talks. Special interest religious groups (and others) have the money to shout.

Fun Games
By liquidtrance on 2/8/2008 8:14:47 AM , Rating: 3
Honestly while my game library includes mostly M rated games, I have no problem with what the game is rated as long as its fun and entertaining to me.

RE: Fun Games
By killerroach on 2/8/2008 9:01:35 AM , Rating: 2
I think it might have somewhat to do with the platform as well... my PC game collection is nearly entirely M-rated titles, PS2 M-rated titles make up about 15% of that stack, but I don't have a single M-rated title for PSP or PS3 (although that will change when God of War: Chains of Olympus comes out for PSP... for the record, I decided to get CoD 4 for PC, not PS3).

I think the more "general accessibility" model of consoles is leading to a lot of the rise in E-rated gaming, which may or may not be such a bad thing depending on the type of game (I'll readily admit to E10-rated games dominating my PSP collection). That being said, I'll echo some of the other posters by saying that, without raw numbers, we don't really know the actual trend...

Rating standards
By adam92682 on 2/8/2008 1:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe it takes more sex and violence to earn a "M" rating now than it did in the past. I think if the ESRB picked up a game they rated "M" from a few years ago it would probably only get a "T" with todays standards. The games themselves may not be less violent than they used to be.

RE: Rating standards
By Shoal07 on 2/8/2008 2:41:44 PM , Rating: 2
That is also true. Many games from even a few years ago that were M would more likely be T today. Mortal Kombat back in the day was "beyond M" to most critics and today its laughable (well, it was to us, gamers, then too, but it was the first big mainstream game with excessive gore).

By sqrt1 on 2/8/2008 8:33:47 AM , Rating: 2
While 85% of all units sold are not M rated,
they fail to mention what the sales percentage is in $.

It could be that games that are very cheap and casual are massively distorting the stats. (I suspect it is)

Better comparison
By kextyn on 2/8/2008 8:40:10 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with others that this graph is worthless without numbers because there may have been a huge increase in casual games that are easy and cheap to produce.

A better comparison would be how many people actively play M rated games compared to the others. I bet the graph would look a lot different.

I still don't understand why these people think M rated games are so bad. I'm an adult and I play games. I don't want all my games to be little kiddie games in fantasyland where nothing dies and everyone is happy. They need to get over the misconception that games are for kids and parents need to be more active in the child's life to prevent them from playing adult games.

my $.02
By inperfectdarkness on 2/8/2008 10:04:29 AM , Rating: 2
now perhaps we can see why the nintendo Wii is doing so well, as is the DS. nintendo has long provided gamers with "E" rated games. they marketed the Wii primarily to that vein. that's not to say it is incapable of playing "M" or "A" rated games--but it certainly gives it more appeal to a broad market than the "rich-kid's ps3" or the "h@rdc0r3 g@m3rz 360". you don't need mature theming in order to have fun with your friends (ssb, mario party, wii sports, etc).

conversely...i'm not actually that focused on "mature" games. i'm MUCH more concerned about "Ao+" rated games. i like graphic violence. Postal 2 was very enjoyable for me--as it's a great way to unleash stress. i happen to like explicit nudity. i want full-bore graphic depictions of sex and sexuality. (heck, i want paul verhoven to direct my video gaming experiences).

as a full-fleged adult, and as an american citizen; it is my legal right to enjoy video-gaming in all of its debaucherous homage to baccus. and while you can find PLENTY of "m" rated games...finding any "A" rated games is extremely hard--let alone finding an outlet that sells them. some of this can be attributed to a smaller market-segment; but the bulk of the blame lies at the feet of asshats like thompson and lieberman.

yes, i have the right to teabag my frag in hi-def without any pixelation. don't tread on me.

I blame the Wii
By AlphaVirus on 2/8/2008 10:10:03 AM , Rating: 2
In the article it says between 2005-2007 which is when the Wii has been on the shelf.
Obviously the Wii has majority of kiddy titles rated as Everyone and at the worst Teen.
Considering the Wii is the top selling console it has a major influence on these numbers.

I prefer a mix of both kiddy and mature. Sometimes I want to go on a "RAMPAGE!" and blow the brains off of someone, but then you also need to slow down with a little bit of racing or something slow paced.

Like another poster said, most of PC games are simply T or M rated whereas console games are watered down. I think a lot of PC gamers are going to console route and so that can have something to do with it.
If you have
50 PC gamers who play M rated (50%)
50 console gamers who play E rated (50%)
Then a game like Crysis comes out and most people cant play it, now you have
25 PC gamers who play M rated (25%)
75 console gamers who play E rated (75%)

Long live the M-rated games!

Number of games sold
By nafhan on 2/8/2008 11:05:43 AM , Rating: 2
What we really need is the total number of games sold for each rating category (E, T, and M).

That statistic itself would be interesting (and more useful than total number of new games), but it could also be combined with the number of new games released in each category to let us know how many crap games are put out with an E rating :)

Something like, Total games sold with that rating / number of games released with that rating.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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