The results of the Federal Trade Commission’s latest research into the marketing of violent entertainment to children is a major win for the video game industry.
Just-released numbers show that the FTC’s underage secret shoppers were only able to purchase M-rated games 20% of the time, a massive improvement over last year’s 42% success rate.
Amid heightened parental concerns following last week’s high-profile release of Grand Theft AUto IV, the news couldn’t come at a better time for the video game biz.
DVD sellers, on the other hand were spanked by the FTC for selling R-rated and unrated movies to underage buyers about half of the time. Theaters allowed the FTC’s secret shoppers into R-rated movies 35% of the time, making the game industry’s results all the more impressive.
New in this year’s report are individual ratings for retailers. The FTC results indicate that GameStop is doing the best job of retail ratings enforcement, turning away 94% of underage buyers. Wal-Mart and Best Buy scored high marks as well, with 82% and 80% turn-away rates, respectively.
Listed below are the FTC’s video game secret shopper results, listed by retailer (number indicated is successful purchases of M-rated games by underage buyers):
Game Stop/EB Games – 6%
Wal-Mart – 18%
Best Buy – 20%
Toys R Us – 27%
Target – 29%
Kmart – 31%
Circuit City – 38%
Hollywood Video – 40%
A graph posted on the FTC website (and seen at left) traces a steep decline in underage sales since 2000, when secret shoppers were successful 85% of the time.
We’ll offer reactions from the video game industry and other stakeholders as we receive them.