It is the general consensus on the Internet that age gating videos is a way for the ESRB / video game industry to say "hey we're doing something about youngsters looking at Mature content" when in fact it is just a way for the industry to cover itself. So it is not surprising that the Entertainment Software Rating Board is relaxing the rules regarding the promotion of titles rated M for Mature. The news comes from a three-page document from the ESRB outlining the changes sent to game publishers and passed along to Giant Bomb.
The biggest change relates to online videos; prior to the recent change all promotional / gameplay videos related to an "M" rated game would have to be put behind an age gate. Now that content does not have to be put behind an age gate so long as it does not contain "objectionable content." Of course the ESRB still has to "pre-clear" the video in question before allowing it to be run without an age gate. The idea is to allow that preview video of the game be geared towards a "general audience."
Another change is the cross-promotion of games; now publishers will be allowed to promote Mature-rated games with lesser rated games, but – again – only with prior approval from the ESRB.
The ESRB confirmed with Giant Bomb that the three-page document is legitimate and offered the following brief statement to the publication:
"The fundamental goal is to ensure that the cross-promotion of products is appropriately targeted. In doing so we may consider a variety of factors including the nature of the product, audience composition of the media vehicle being used, the intended audience of the game, whether registered users are of a certain age, whether an age-gate is employed, etc.," a representative told Giant Bomb.