PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in Secret Shopper Report

July 24, 2008 -

(note: this PTC secret shopper survey is not related to the one conducted by Baltimore's ABC-2 that GamePolitics has reported on over the past couple of days)

Watchdog group the Parents Television Council has issued a secret shopper report in which video game retailers fared noticeably worse than in results issued by the Federal Trade Commission in April.

Overall, the PTC claims that game retailers sold M-rated titles to underage buyers 36% of the time. As reported by GamePolitics, the FTC's secret shoppers succeeded in buying M-rated games at only a 20% rate.

As in the the FTC study, GameStop and Best Buy did very well, according to the PTC. Both retailers sold to underage buyers just 8% of the time. Circuit City (60%), K-Mart (50%), Hollywood Video (50%) and various local and regional stores (47%) compiled the worst results.

PTC president Tim Winter (left) was harshly critical of the video game industry in the PTC's press release:

...a disturbing percentage of video game retailers are failing to prevent America’s children from purchasing violent and sexually graphic video games.  Any failure rate is problematic, but the failure rate we’re seeing is downright pathetic.  Similar to age restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, pornography and other products that are potentially harmful to children, parents deserve a reasonable expectation that age restrictions for adult entertainment products will be enforced at the retail level.

 

It is outrageous that retailers are not exercising greater responsibility, and even more absurd that there are no meaningful consequences for those retailers who ignore their industry’s own age restriction policies... 

 

The video game industry would have us believe that the 1/5 failure rate as reported by the FTC is acceptable and that parents need not worry.  Our analysis shows a 1/3 failure rate.  Perhaps the retailers felt the pressure was off after the FTC’s report was published... While we applaud Game Stop and Best Buy for their commitment to abide by their corporate age restriction policies, the other retailers should be ashamed and must act immediately to improve.

Winter also used the report as a platform to support new legislation introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). The bill targets video game ratings. GamePolitics coverage of the bill is upcoming.

Here is the data on various retailers as issued by the PTC (updated, as Blockbuster was left off of their original version):

 

M-RATED VIDEO GAMES
PTC Results (July 2008)
CHAIN
# of Stores
% Able to Purchase
Game Stop
12
8%
Wal-Mart
13
38%
Best Buy
12
8%
Toys “R” Us
5
40%
Blockbuster
11
36%
Target
17
41%
Kmart
4
50%
Circuit City
10
60%
Hollywood Video
2
50%
Various Local & Regional Stores
15
47%


 


Comments

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

IMO it would depend on the kids in question. Personally, I really don't see a problem with the vast majority of aged 14+ high school teenagers playing "M" rated video games. On the other hand though an 8 year old young child probably should not be playing games like Manhunt or the GTA series.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Because its easy to see that some games are simply not meant for kids. Sure, its the parents responsibility to pay attention to what their kids are doing, but at the same time its always a good move to actually try and help parents do that voluntarily.

As an example, there's absolutely nothing dangerous about watching R or NC-17 rated movies, but I'll bet you won't see too many 12 year olds buying tickets for one themselves because they'll be stopped by any employee with a brain. I can guarantee you that if movie theaters always let kids into those movies there would be a pretty big uproar about it and legislators would start drafting bills to make it governmentally regulated as well. So long as we stick to, and enforce, a voluntary system there isn't a leg for legislators to stand on when it comes to trying to regulate sales. If we didn't have that voluntary system, they could just shout that the industry doesn't care and it will make their "for the children" argument even stronger. And the stronger that "for the children" argument is, the less likely that it will get struck down and unconstitutional. Just look at porn. Its not harmful either and should be protected by free speech, but its governmentally regulated because they had a strong "for the children" argument to base their laws on.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Well written.  I know most of us HERE see through the "For the children" thing.  It's so sad that people are willing to lay down their liberties to this quote made so many times by politicians.  Same with the word "terrorist".  If they could squeeze that in there somewhere I bet they would do that as well.  Ha...I can see it now "Al Queda is now terrorizing our country by selling M rated games to kids"  OH MY GOD! NOOOOO!!!  Please big brother! Regulate me more!

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Circut city is slowly going down hill. They fired most of their higher paid sales people who were actually competent, and its been downhill from there.

Best buy is kicking their ass across the board.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Did the study cover R rated movies?
Probably not.

Thank you smart people!
You are saving us all with your Parental Controls.
Speaking of.. Video game consoles have those. Term them on parents.  That is something your DVD player probably doesnt have.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Actually DVD players do have parental controls, the exact same as the game consoles.  Where do you think they took the idea from?  They had to integrate the parental controls into the PS2 & Xbox due to DVD playback ability.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

I'm a little uncomfortable with starting the, "It's okay for us to do this because everyone else is screwing up worse," argument.  Regardless of how poorly other industries enforce their rules, it begins to sound like finger-pointing and deflection to say we should only rise to the level of other people's incompetence.

Let's focus on the offending retailers and get them to stop giving jerks like this so much ammunition in the first place (using legal, constitutional methods that is).

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

But majority of their outrage stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you'll find they don't think any books should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they'll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless... yeah.

The entire arguement is based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can't figure out the controls for Halo so it's frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it's in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child's life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can't be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It's too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

Therein lies the problem at it's core.  These reports shouldn't MAKE news, the ESRB adherence shouldn't be a hot topic.  Parents should be parents.

 
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Mattsworknamejob they wanted without the unions getting involved. The problem is, it has some unexpected side effects, like the ones Info mentioned07/07/2015 - 8:49am
MattsworknameThe problem being, right to work states exsist specificly as a counter to Unions, as the last 20 or so years have shown, the unions have been doing this countries economoy NO favors. The right to work states came into being to allow people to work any07/07/2015 - 8:49am
Infophile(cont'd) discriminatory. This can only be done for protected classes which are outlined in law (race, sex, religion, ethnicity everywhere, sexual orientation in some states). So, a gay person could be fired because they're gay and have no recourse there.07/07/2015 - 7:27am
Infophile@Goth: See here: http://www.snopes.com/politics/sexuality/firedforbeinggay.asp for a good discussion on it. Basically, the problem is that in the US, most states allow at will firing, and it's the burden of the fired person to prove the firing was ...07/07/2015 - 7:25am
Goth_SkunkAssuming that's true, then that is a fight worth fighting for.07/07/2015 - 6:58am
Yuuri@ Goth_Skunk, in many states being gay is not a protected status akin to say race or religion. It's also in the "Right to work" states. Those are the states where one can be fired for any reason (provided it isn't a "protected" one.)07/07/2015 - 6:07am
Goth_Skunkregarded as a beacon of liberty and freedom that is the envy of the world, would not have across-the-board Human Rights laws that don't at the very least equal those of my own country.07/07/2015 - 5:47am
Goth_SkunkI find that hard to believe, Infophile. I have difficulty believing employers can *still* fire people for being gay. I would need to see some evidence that this is fact, because as a Canadian, I can't believe that the United States,07/07/2015 - 5:46am
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InfophileAnd that's just LGB issues. Get ready for an incoming battle on rights for trans* people. And then after that, a battle for poly people.07/07/2015 - 5:41am
InfophileA battle's been won. In many states employers can still fire people for being gay. And in many states, parents can force their children into reparative therapy to try to "fix" being gay. Those battles still need to be fought.07/07/2015 - 5:40am
Goth_Skunkand now they've switched to battles that don't need to be fought.07/07/2015 - 5:37am
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Infophile(cont'd) It started long before that. Perhaps the American Civil War comes to mind?)07/07/2015 - 3:59am
InfophileOn Goth's linked article: Historically speaking, there may have been cycles, but remember that the left has steadily gained ground. Is there a good reason to expect that to be different this time? (Oh, and no, Culture War 1.0 wasn't with the Baby Boomers.07/07/2015 - 3:59am
Goth_Skunk"THIS VIDEO IS PROBLEMATIC:" About Social Justice Warriors, by J.T. Sexkik. Excellent video. http://ow.ly/PgGnD07/07/2015 - 3:22am
Goth_Skunkand repeats the cycle, over and over. Presently, the far left culture is overreaching, and is about to lose their stranglehold on power.07/06/2015 - 10:01pm
Goth_SkunkAs far back as the 60's, according to the writers. The culture war moves in cycles from one generation to the next. The left rebels against the right, takes over, overreaches to the point where the right rebels right back, takes over, overreaches ->07/06/2015 - 9:58pm
MattsworknameGoth, what "Comming overreach" , the media and goverment have been overreaching for years07/06/2015 - 9:34pm
 

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