Actually, It’s Good News: 10% of GTA IV Buyers Under 17, Says Nielsen

GameDaily reports on data released by Nielsen which holds that 17% of Grand Theft Auto IV buyers were under 17.

But in 39% of those cases someone else – typically a parent – actually purchased the game, which means that the actual number of unassisted underage buyers was about 10%.

While GameDaily and other outlets are finding alarm in these numbers, the 10% figure is actually twice as good as might have been expected.


In April the FTC released data showing that 20% of its underage secret shoppers successfully purchased M-rated content, the game industry’s best result ever. The Nielsen data effectively doubles the game industry’s ratings enforcement effectiveness. From the Nielsen report:

61% of these younger gamers indicated that they purchased the M-rated game themselves, with 39% of the young gamers responding that someone else bought the game for them," Nielsen said. "Interestingly enough, parents/guardians were pegged as the biggest facilitators for getting the controversial game into the hands of these young respondents, garnering 80% of the response. Friends, siblings and other relatives rounded out the other 20% of the response.

The GTA IV numbers also look pretty good when stacked up against a new Dartmouth study which says that 48% of minors have been exposed to R-rated movies.

GP: Obviously, you’d like to see zero sales to underage buyers, but we don’t live in a perfect world. These results are a significant improvement over the 2008 FTC numbers, which were deemed extremely impressive when released.

It is great to see Nielsen providing this kind of data, as it gives context to the ratings enforcement issue. It’s the kind of the data the industry ought to be providing on its own, however.


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  1. desperad0 says:

    Thanks good job;

    Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing travesti or little and need to start saving costs. and dizi izle


    Now I don’t have to get off my ass for the important shit anymore!

    Whats next, ordering pizza from Xbox live?

    Wait… I think that sounds like a good idea.

    But I think voting should MAKE you get off your ass, and see outside or a second while you go vote. I mean, your picking the president of the United States of America for God’s Sake… least you can do is drive down there and punch out a card.


  2. oto kirlama says:

    I’m all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there’s one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what’s stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

    But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama 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 kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç 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 kiralık oto 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 minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama 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 rent a car 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?

  3. I don’t believe in censorship. If my children want something that some overzealous government, consumer organisation, or retailer has decided they can’t buy themselves – I will quite happily go to the counter and buy it on their behalf.

    This is not because I am uninformed or unconcerned; quite the contrary. If my children know that my objection to a game, movie, or book is deeper than "there is teh sex and teh violence in it!", it’s a lot harder to blow off that objection – especially since my objection does not mean they cannot play, see, or read it. I may prefer that my children play something more age-appropriate, but it is not my job as their parent to force my preferences on them. If they can’t see it, they don’t know whether I’m right, and I prefer they be raised to make up their own minds.

    The media don’t want you to think about that. They want you to believe that absolutely nobody out there really does object to censorship on principle, and accurately represent that objection in their actions. And strangely, my kids just want to play Mario Kart and Monster Jam. They could play Bioshock and GTA4 if they wanted, but they’re not interested. Even with a complete lack of parental controls on the cable box, they have yet to select anything that isn’t age-appropriate.

    Well, okay, the two year old watches the "Extreme Metal" music video channel and throws goats at the screen. But I think he got that from me.

  4. Icehawk says:

    Good intentions aside.  Those to that do not want to deal with inconvient facts simply will not see or acknowledge them.  To them it does not matter.  Even 1 person (not 1%) is enough for some like Lieberman, Yee or jackie to go to arms.  Sigh.  

    I swear there was sanity in these parts once. 

  5. DarkTetsuya says:

    like adding an extra 0 in there somewhere? 😛

    see? SEE? told you braindead terrorist druggie dropouts, GTA’s marketed to children, 100% of the buyers are underage!!

    ugh, that hurt to type bbl gonna go burn the layer of skin that I used to type that… 🙁

  6. MrFalcon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yes, this is good news, thank you for posting it.  The first 2 paragraphs of this article are great.

    However, your analysis of why this is good news is absolutely baseless and untrue.  This new finding cannot be compared to the FCC or Dartmouth studies in any meaningful way.  The Nielsen finding of 10% is a portion of the total buyers of GTAIV who are under 17:

    total GTAIV buyers of all ages / under-17 GTAIV buyers = .10

    The FCC finding is the portion of the total under 17 M-rated game shoppers who were successful.:

    total under-17 M-game shoppers / under-17 M-Game buyers =.20

    Now, if we say equate GTAIV with M-rated games in general (which is already a stretch), then yes, we can compare the two denominators.  However, "GTAIV buyers of all ages" and "M-Game shoppers under 17" are two completely different populations.  In order to compare the Nielsen finding to the FCC finding, you would have to know how many under-17 shoppers tried to buy GTAIV, which is a complete unknown and can’t be estimated given the total number of GTAIV buys of all ages.

    The comparison to the Dartmouth study is an even bigger mess.  You are comparing the total population of minors to the population of GTAIV buyers (!?) on the one side and comparing purchases with "exposure" on the other.  Nothing of value could possibly be derived from such a comparison.

    Also, why do people insist on reporting 17% as "1 in 5" when it is almost exactly 1 in 6 (16.67%)?

    You should really publish some kind of retraction of this article since most of your assertions are false and it pains me to see such a blemish on an otherwise reputable blog.  And please, please, PLEASE refrain from this kind of analysis in the future.  You have many great talents, but statistical analysis doesn’t seem to be one of them.

  7. sneaky sam says:

    REALY is it any suprise to anyone that 48% of minors have seen a R-rated movie im 15 and i can honestly say rating systems are a joke, i could go see any movie i want or get any game i want through siblings and friends, and thats if my parents actualy took the rating system seriously… 

    anyways whats the big deal about minors being exposed to violence or even nudity come on…. how does that hurt their minds its such a joke it actualy has me go out of my way to mention it… sheltering kids is worse than giving them the choice of seeing a r-rated movie of a m-rated game and all you watchdog bastards can go to hell

  8. Bloodharp ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Personally, i dont think i want to see the number hit 0%. Being probably a little more mature than my fellow 14-17 year old peers, ive noticed that most of my friends who are younger than me have played games ranging from Halo to GTA and even some Manhunt 2 (although why they bothered i have no idea) and, personally, i think they handled it just fine. Us minors are given too little credit for what we can and cant handle. For over 3 millenia a man was old enough to fight and die in war by age 16, then all of a sudden we decide its age 21 that is adulthood. Just because we’re not physically matured fully doesnt mean we arent mentally mature enough to handle what goes on in the real world. Im not saying to drop any limits on the age that M rated games should be sold to, just to not act as if a parent giving such a game to their minor as negative. I beat MGS 1 by the time i was 10 and am just fine, so i think a 15 year old can handle a little Halo or GTA.

    Of course, all open to personal opinions, and sorry if im a little preachy. 

  9. NovaBlack says:

    you know whats wierd… in the uk anyway, you are responsible enough at 16 to START A FAMILY (i.e. bring a NEW LIFE into the world)

    but not responsible enough to play GTA apparently…. what?


    responsible enough for somebody elses vulnerable new life, but not my own…..right…right… i think im going to go take more topsy turvy pills and eat my own legs, because this is just plain messed up.

  10. BmK ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    I can understand not wanting young children to be exposed to most "M" rated video games and "R" rated movies, ect, that’s just common sense. But i don’t really see a problem with 14+ high school aged teenagers playing these games. Seriously, when it comes to entertainment media i don’t really see for lack of a better term any more of a "harmful" effect from a 14 year old playing GTA then a 17/18 year old (that is if there is any harmful effect to begin with).
    Lets be honest here, adolecents and teenagers should have the ability to form their own viewpoints based on unrestricted and uncensored access to Free Speech media that presents ideas, information, messages and opinions. Otherwise it would actually do them more harm as by the time they reach legal adulthood, thier minds will be a blank and they would be unable to cope with the real world as we know it, and the real world can be a much worse place then any video game, movie, audio recording, book or T.V. show out there.

  11. Cheater87 says:

    Its the parents that are buying the game for their kids. They don’t care they just buy the game to shut their kid up from begging to get it.

  12. SS says:

    I wonder what percent of those underage buyers are in 14-16 years range?  Personally I am more worried about little kids playing the game.  By the time people are teenagers they are already either screwed or sane. 

  13. Anonymous says:

    I was going to point out the same thing, but I decided to check the comments first to see if anybody else had. 😉

  14. WiseGuyV301 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t seem how the two numbers match up in anyway, unless I’m misreading the article.

    If 10% of the buyers of GTA were aged 17 and under that says nothing about how many potential buyers were 17 and under.  If only 20 kids 17 and under attempted to purchase the game, and 10 were successful, and there was a total of 100 purchases of the game than 10% of actual purchases of the game would be by kids 17 and under, yet kids 17 and under had a 50% success rate at buying the game.  So this 10% number doesn’t match up whatsoever with the FTC secret shopper number of a 20% success rate.

    The number is still good news but on a different front.  It demonstrates that a large proportion of the people playing GTA are of the appropriate age.

  15. Mr. Mellowguy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It seems to me that it is better that Nielson came up with it and not the game industry, specifically because it is a independent view.  Critics who see video games as a menace take lightly whatever the businesses that make them say to defend themselves; they cannot so lightly throw aside research from a neutral source.  (Except for Jack Thompson, for obvious reasons)

  16. black manta says:

    This only proves, then, what many have been supposed all along, that in many of these cases where underage kids are playing these games, it is the parents who are buying it for them!  Shoots a big hole in JT’s argument that thses stores are actually "selling" these games to minors.

    Just wanted to take moment to address his choice of words.  The phrase "selling adult games to minors" leaves out the impliction of voluntary purchase and makes the stores and/or game companies sound like drug dealers.  No one is putting a gun to these kids’ heads and forcing them to buy these games, and it’s not like the stores are aggressively pushing it on them like "Hey, man!  You want something that’ll really mess you up?  Play GTA IV!"  Doesn’t work like that.  The way Jack tells it though, it’s like the consumer has no real choice what they do and the kid is just a mindless zombie with no free will of their own (again with the lack of personal responsibility).  Jut my observation on that.

  17. Kojiro ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Your comparing apples to oranges here.  The FTC data showed that 20% of their secret shoppers were successful.  This Neilson report says that 10% of actual GTA IV owners are under 17 and bought it themselves.  That’s not twice as good at 20%, since they are totally different numbers.  The Nielson report says nothing about how many underage kids tried to buy it.

  18. SS says:

    R- Rated movies are way worse than video games.  Many M-rated games have violent content that’s lesser than violence in Pg-13 movies.  The ratings just create confusion as M-rated games encompass anything from Halo 3 to Manhunt.  This just makes parents more confused.

    The parent’s groups should worry more about smaller children instead of baby-sitting older teenager’s.  It’s the parents role to do that.

    The most closed minded kids are the ones that have overprotective parents.  They are the ones who will not accept new ideas and will keep their minds closed.  The religous fundamentalists of this world fall into that category.

  19. Cheater87 says:

    Hillary wanted to ban violent video games from people under 18 and the judge said she could not do that because of that exact same reason you said BmK. 🙂

  20. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I took a quick look at the Wikipedia article. There wasn’t any references to the oil industry lobbying for Prohibition. The ydid however have a quote from Rockefeller after it was repealled.

    Over all it was a good read and I will have to look further into it.

    Also, that ziploc bag thing seems to far fetched to be real. But sadly I can see some cop with a grudge pushing it.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
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  21. shady8x says:

    Stuck to its guns?? With a depression on and every state bankrupt, mobsters with massives amoutns of cash took over the streets which started running red with blood, if the government had stuck to its guns there would have been a lot of dead people out on those streets…

    Oh and the prohibition crowd was rather small, the problem was that alcohol was competing with oil as a fuel source so Rockefeller donated enough money to the prohibitionists to buy the entire government…and I am not talking about through lobbying, actual bribes…. by the time alcohol was legal again, oil was king…

    As for your marijuana belief, I don’t use it but I have looked up the stats on it. The main reason why I want it legalized is because with billions of dollars spent on finding out how evil it is no one can point at a single case of a person actualy dying from it. Research shows that it helps PREVENT cancer even. While alcohol and cigarets kill hundreds of thousands of people per year… I think it being a safe popular alternative is the best reason to legalize it… Speaking of popular, studies show that it is easier for kids to get than alcohol so the laws have already failed legalizing would let us control it and keep it out of kids hands. As for figuring out why we send a million people to prison over something they do to themselves which is safer then legal alternatives makes my head heart…

    Anyway you should read up on both, the history of these things and how they get repeated again and again and again is crazy…

    Fun fact:according to drug paraphenelia laws, plastic bags in your home could result in a prison sentence…my friend got probation recently(and no he didn’t have drugs or alcohol or anything except ziplock bags for sandwiches)

  22. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Yes there was a strong surge of organized crime due to prohibition, but that was the direct result of many currupt city and government officials who turned the other cheek because they liked either money or booze. If the government had stuck to their guns and enforced prohibition it may still be around.

    I am not so sure how much of a minority the pro prohibition crowd was. I haven’t looked that deep into it. But it was a topic of a lot of political debate for many decades before actually being amended to the Constitution. Much like how slavery was debated since the founding of the US until it was finally abolished. Y oualso have to remember that in order to amend the constitution, you have to have the support of 3/4 of all the states in the US.

    As for maryjane (don’t feel like looking up the actual spelling, lazy and all that) I am not a fan of legalizing yet anotehr mind altering substance. Looking at the effects of alcohol abuse and it just doesn’t seem all that appealing.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
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  23. E. Zachary Knight says:

    No one is going to be going after alcohol. It was tried and didn’t work. So don’t fret.

    I was only pointing out that there was avalid reason for attempting it in the first place.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
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  24. black manta says:

    Not to go too off topic, but I kind of feel the same way about the current situation with marijuana.  It’s clear that all the efforts to keep it illegal have been a waste of money, and in inverse proportion to whatever harm it may cause compared to, say, cocaine or heroin.  And it keeping it illegal only gives organized crime another source of revenue.  If it were legalized, or at least decriminalized, it would save money and ultimately deprive organized crime of a line of income.

    This is not to say that I smoke marijuana myself.  I don’t (gotta keep the game-playing senses sharp! lol)  But I know or have known people who do, and many of them are responsible, fully-functioning and contributing members of society.  So in that regard, I think it would make more sense to legalize it. 

  25. Weatherlight says:

    Good job, now you are going to set them off on a crusade against my other free time activity. So much for having a relaxing evening of drinking and rockband. Now they will be trying to take both away. :p


  26. Geoff ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Eh, not really.

    For one, there’s the whole "personal responsibility" issue. 

    They were also a very small minority that managed to get legislation passed that was very unpopular with the majority.  This wasn’t a group of people that were being persecuted by others, this was a small group of people basically telling the rest of America "we know what’s better for you". 

    And all that legislation did, really, was help to increase organized crime.  People sure as hell didn’t stop drinking so legit reason or no their entire cause ended up backfiring.  Not only did it not really curb alcohol related deaths but it also laid the foundation for the crime syndicates that are in place today. 

    I’ve also always wondered just how of an factor, if any, prohibition played in leading to a recession.  Never personally researched that particular aspect but I wouldn’t be surprised if it helped with the sudden job loss of the alcohol industry.  But overall, regardless of whether their heart was in the right place or not, their execution of the cause was really nothing more than a disaster.

    Hmmm…just read my comment and I came to a strange 6-degrees-esque realization.  If there wasn’t any prohibition, there wouldn’t be any organized crime (as we know it today anyway).  If there wasn’t any organized crime, R* wouldn’t have had the inspiration needed to make the GTA series.  Strange how that works.

  27. Geoff ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Nah, they won’t use it.  They’d rather use their own highly-dubious "reports" and "surveys" to try and push their agenda of censorship.

    Really, at this point, I don’t think there’s any compromising with these groups.  Like the prohibitionists of the 30’s, they’ll lie to take the "moral highground" of trying to regulate what all other Americans can and cannot play/watch/listen to.  Their main target right now is video games because it’s a new medium and new mediums are easy scapegoats.  We’re just going to have to wait them out for awhile until video games hit true mainstream status, then they’ll have to choose something else to rally aganist.

  28. E. Zachary Knight says:

    That is like telling a fish to stop swimming and walk on land. Not going to happen.

    The PTC is populated by a bunch of lying scumbags who have no thoughts but to censor all media so that it is safe for kids to watch. They do not care about anything resembling truth.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
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  29. Smarty Pants says:

    That’s pretty good, the PTC really needs to use the most recent data instead of the ones of their liking.

  30. Geoff ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s some good news, but overall it’s not going to change the Thought Police groups.  They’ll just spin it around and say something like "One out of every ten minors attempting to buy M-rated titles are successful.  Ban it all, for the children!"

  31. beemoh says:

    >It is great to see Nielsen providing this kind of data, as it gives context to the ratings enforcement issue. It’s the kind of the data the industry ought to be providing on its own, however.

    …and who will believe them if they do?

    At least this way, the industry can say they had nothing to do with the report itself.


  32. Afirejar says:

    "While GameDaily and other outlets are finding alarm in these numbers, the 10% figure is actually twice as good as might have been expected."

    This is good only, if more than half of buying attempts were made by under-17’s. Without data about that, these numbers don’t really say anything. (Except "teenagers are interested in GTA", and I don’t need surveys to know that.)

  33. Chuma-Hasn'tHeardAnythingYetAboutRegistrationProblems ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Given that previous studies have also cited non-games retailers (wallmart etc) as being the main culprits, I think this means about 0.1% of sales to minors can be attributed to places like gamestop.

  34. hayabusa75 says:

    Taking things a step further, it would be interesting to know what the age breakdown is of the under-17’s who bought it themselves, with no parent or guardian around.

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  35. Father Time says:

    "48% of minors have been exposed to R-rated movies"

    Does that including seeing an R rated movie on video at your or someone else’s house? If it does then I’d expect it to be a lot higher than 48%.

    But I digress, it did seem like retailers were paying more attention the GTA IV in particular when it was new.

  36. NovaBlack says:

    It is great to see Nielsen providing this kind of data, as it gives context to the ratings enforcement issue. It’s the kind of the data the industry ought to be providing on its own, however.


    @GP couldnt Agree with that statement more!

    have you ever tred contacting any big names like T2/Rockstar etc to see what their actual stance on all this is? they always just seem to hide away and never say a thing. its SO frustrating personally as a gamer, that its essentially up to everybody else to help clean up a problem (that shouldnt be a problem in the first place), and without any help from the people a) who are directly involved and b) would actually have a huge amount of weight behind any statements/stance made. Well alot more than gamers on internet forums i mean. I just feel a bit let down that we stick up for them, n they dont do a damn thing to help us out!

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