During an acceptance speech at the Media Institute's American Horizon Award event, honouring John Riccitello for "visionary leadership in promoting the vitality and independence of his industry", the Electronic Arts CEO, who is also chairman of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, took the opportunity to share his thoughts on the future of videogame classification (via Polygon
"We live in an incredible age," EA's John Riccitiello told the group, which included both the FCC Commissioner and Chairman. "In the past three years the audience for games has grown from roughly 200 million, to over one billion. Virtually everyone on the planet who owns a phone, can play a game. The Supreme Court has given us the same First Amendment rights as authors, musicians and film makers — a set of rights which we cherish.
"But as we are so often told: With great freedom, comes great responsibility. To live up to that responsibility, we need to do a better job informing the consumer, no matter the channel, the platform or the geography. We must adopt a self-regulated, global rating system across every format games are played on."
Polygon goes on to explain the ESRB's ongoing campaign to get online platform holders such as Facebook, Google, and Apple to adopt their standardised, industry-regulated system for the benefit of consumer clarity. A move that should be even simpler following last month's launch
of a free ratings service for creators of digitally-distributed games.
"We're at a point in history when we've never been so free to create and distribute content," he said. "But we're also at a point when we need to update the way we inform consumers. Consumers are finding many new places to get their games — Facebook, Google, Apple, as well as services like Steam and Origin. Most have a rating system, but none are consistent. Consequently, we are confusing the consumer.
"We must move beyond the alphabet soup of game ratings and consolidate behind a single standard that consumers will recognize and, ultimately, demand."
The United Kingdom's recent adoption of Continental Europe's PEGI system is a step in the direction of ratings consolidation, but here in Australia, as with New Zealand, it's hard to see our governments letting go of their own tightly-regulated classification processes any time soon --particularly after how long it has taken to introduce an R18+ rating into Australia for videogames.