We were pleased to hear that there was plenty of positive news regarding retailer ratings education and enforcement: 71% are educating the public about the ESRB rating system; 94% have a policy not to sell/rent M-rated games to persons under age 17. It is important to emphasize that the NIMF “secret shoppers” were turned down 56% of the time when they attempted to purchase M-rated games. This turn-down rate is a significant improvement since 2000, when only 19% were turned down. This overall trend demonstrates strong and growing retailer commitment to video game rating enforcement, although clearly we are not yet where we want to be as an industry.
We were disappointed to learn that the NIMF continues to unevenly weight the results of their sting operations (judging the effectiveness of retailer enforcement stemming the sale of Mature-rated games to minors). The fact that they weight their conclusions by individual stores rather than by actual real-world market value is significant, both to the statistics as well as to the practical realities of sales. Not weighting the data evenly by market share may well account for the NIMF sting results quite literally swinging wildly back and forth over the past five years.
We have repeatedly requested that the National Institute on Media and the Family disclose their methodology so that we may better understand how they cull their results and been denied year after year.