A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower Ratings

Speaking at the recent Montreal International Game Summit, the CEO of a game development company complained that publishers are deliberately deceiving the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) in a bid to receive lower age ratings.

Rémi Racine of Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M), creator of Wet and the upcoming PSP version of Dante’s Inferno, said that publishers who attempt to trick the ESRB are looking for a wider audience—and subsequent profits— for their game.

Edge Online offered the following quote from Racine:

As a developer who has worked with a lot of different publishers, we’re aware of many that have tried to cheat the rating. They say to the ERSB that it’s a Teen rating [13+] rather than an Mature [17+] to try and sell more; you can do this just by sending them a video that doesn’t show the most violent stuff and then you’ll get the rating that you want rather than the rating you should get.

The ESRB’s Eliot Mizrachi addressed Racine’s claims, saying:

We regularly check games post-release to verify that submissions were complete, and it’s very likely that if a game contains undisclosed content that would have affected the rating assigned, we’ll find out about it. In such cases ESRB can actually impose fines up to $1 million as well as require corrective actions like re-labeling or even recalling product, both of which can obviously be very costly.

Racine’s comments came from a panel which discussed the social responsibility owed to consumers by those who make up the game industry. Racine was also blunt in his assessment of the game industry’s effectiveness at educating consumers:

Right now I don’t think the industry is doing enough to educate the audience. The ERSB is supposed to do it, but it feels like we just kind of expect these kind of industry or government bodies to do the job for us. As much as I don’t think it’s the place of EA or Activision to go off and try and inform parents on their own, a more active role needs to be taken by all participants to ensure our artists are free to express themselves and that content can be enjoyed responsibly.

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  1. TBoneTony says:

    Should I need to say it again?

    The ESRB, same with the BBFC, PEGI and yes even the OFLC are all nothing but umpires/referees in a football match.

    Even though we don’t like the decisions they make, all we can do a game developers is just get on with the game and play ball.

    If you argue against the umpire/referee even though you think you might be right, the umpire/referee is never going to change their decision and we all have to just get out heads back into the game before we turn out to be the real looser.

    And even though we sometimes don’t like their decision, we should respect them because they have made decisions that were to our advantage like allowing us all the violent videogames that we can play because they said that they were well within their laws even though the politicians only bitched and moaned and argued against the people who they put in charge of rating videogames.

    The people at the ESRB and so on, are there doing the best job they can. If you don’t like it, would you rather politicians calling all the shots instead?

    I hope you all get that clear,  do you?


  2. sharpshooterbabe says:

    I agree w/some of you on this post that Racine doesn’t obviously know what he is talking about when he thinks the ESRB or the EA or Activision shouldn’t educate the audience. ESRB does show their ratings on their site & tells them what each rating means for a game. But that is for the public, so they are educating people. I think it’s wrong that companies send in a video of the most non-violent parts of a game. That is being dishonest, but if that means making more money they are cutting off more their noses to spite their faces & that is not good. Besides even if they did send in the violent parts of a game, wouldn’t more adults or over 17+ be inclined to buy the game?



    "It’s better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." – Montgomery Gentry

  3. ZippyDSMlee says:

    uhg they would not have tried to make smokeing an R if they were not so buddy buddy with the brain dead anti lobbys, and its well know the MPAA dose not stick to all its rules.

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  4. JDKJ says:

    The MPAA didn’t try to make smoking a default "R." The anti-smoking lobby tried to force the MPAA to make smoking a default "R" but the MPAA refused and said they would, instead, consider it as a factor among many other factors. And if DVDs are being retailed without an MPAA rating, that’s not the fault of the MPAA. Blame the publishers for selling their DVDs without an MPAA rating. The MPAA, like the ESRB, is voluntary. They can’t force a publisher to have an MPAA rating on their product.

    And you weren’t merely pointing out holes in the MPAA. As usual, you were merely stoking the fires of your "media mafia" conspiracy theory with bullshit facts you either: (a) made up outta thin air or (b) didn’t double-check for accuracy. 

  5. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ummm no they tried to make smokeing a defult R, and they have a harder time rating some films than the ESRB dose, also they don;t stick frimly to thier rules. "Not rated" is soemthign that at this time can not be done in retial gaming, DVDs use it all the time to not get hit with the NC17 rating.


    I was merely pointing out all the holes in the MPAA. And BTW I make up less "stuff" than you and DS do 😛

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  6. JDKJ says:

    Unless it’s underage smoking, depictions of smoking do not automatically qualify a film for an "R" rating. It is only a factor (among many other factors) which the MPAA, under certain circumstances (e.g., are the depictions of smoking pervasive and do they tend to glamorize smoking, etc.), will consider when rating a film.

    And "not rated" isn’t a rating which the MPAA gives any film. A film "not rated" usually means that the producers didn’t submit the film to the MPAA for a rating or didn’t want the rating they received. And if a film isn’t rated by the MPAA, it won’t get screened in any of the major theatre chains.

    Quit making stuff up, Zippy. There’s no "media mafia."

  7. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ya put the MPAA has a get out of lable free card with not rated and they soemtiems ignore things to let thier friends get in a film at a lower ranting…not to mention make smokeing an R worthy offence…. the MPAA is corrupted and lax….

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  8. GoodRobotUs says:

    On occasion things slip through any rating system, the famous exposed genitals in Teenwolf, the ‘suicide ad’ on Top Gear etc, no system is perfect, but trying to extract some kind of Thompson-esque conspiracy theory about it all leaves me dubious to say the very least.

    I must admit that I can’t help detecting sour-grapes involved in the comments, for a start, I was under the impression that the ESRB did not rate from Video only, and secondly, if this is happening so often, how come the last game that was reclassified on the basis of content is Oblivion.

    Is the ESRB somehow part of a big conspiracy to fool itself? That doesn’t make any sense, I find that I’m wondering about the fact this gentleman has worked with ‘several’ developers and wonder what the reasons were for leaving each one.

  9. JDKJ says:

    While blowing a whistle at the same time. Kinda makes me envious. I’m still trying to master walking while chewing gum.

  10. BearDogg-X says:

    I think Racine’s lying.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  11. ZippyDSMlee says:

    This is true, but no matter how well the ESRB dose things without a T 15 level to balance things, more and more issues will pile up around the T and M levels. Like E10 you guys need to get on the ball and put in a T15 level where minor gore and foul language(think Halo and Castlvina,war sims with no decapitation/mutliation) wont be wrote off as something strictly "mature".

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  12. Bigman-K says:

    I agree but it’s unlikely to happen until the MPAA places a rating in between PG-13 and R or splits the R rating into two catagories like a soft R15/16 and a harder R17/18.

     "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  13. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Why is it the best kept secrets are the most logical and common sensical…  Of course publishers will try and get the ranting down to a T for obvious reasons, however I think publishers would be better off if they focused on the ESRB and got them to accept a T15 level so M can be a bit harder content wise.

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  14. JDKJ says:

    How could that happen? The MPAA requires that the entire movie as intended for release be submitted for review. How would it be possible to withold particular content in order to get a particular rating when the entire movie has to be submitted? I guess you could release a version dissimilar to the one submitted for the MPAA’s review and rating but if you get caught doing that, I’d imagine you’d be in deep doo-doo with the MPAA. 

  15. Beacon80 says:

    Wait, so he doesn’t want to depend on groups like the ESRB to educate the audiences, but he doesn’t think individual companies should do it either.

    Who the hell is left?!

  16. JDKJ says:

    Rémi "The Rat" Racine. Stop the snitching. You never know. Tomorrow you may need someone to keep your secrets.

  17. DarkSaber says:

    Something gives me the impression that he’s bitter he couldn’t convince the ESRB to rate his schlocky crap that was Wet "Teen" (well, it got an 18 here in the UK at least).


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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