Monday, July 16, 2012

PS3 games - Disparity between age certification and Parental level

Given the Battlefield Bad Company 2 kerfuffle, in that a game is being sold at an age level of 16 yet had an internal restriction of 18, I thought to check through all my games to see if there are any more out there.

I'm using Sony's own guidelines on European age certification and how they match up to Sony's own parental restriction level. Now there are gaps for example a 12-age is matched to a 5-level, but a 16-age to a 7-level. So what's a 15-age? Logically I have to add it as a 6-level; there's also no PG-age rating shown so I'll match it to around the 3 or 4-level mark 5-level at a push. So how do they match-up?
The good news is that every single 18-age game I own has the correct 9-level rating. Likewise every
3, 7, and 12 age game I own. PGs and U-certificated games don't have an exact match, but again they're close enough by my standards.

The problem comes with the 15 and 16 age certificated games.

[Update - as per the comment I'll also show the US ESRB rating along with the level that should make it]

Firstly the ones who get it right:

Assassin's Creed 2; age 15; level 7 [Mature 9]
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood; age 15; level 7 [Mature 9]
Batman Arkham Asylum; age 15; level 7 [Teen 5]
Batman Arkham City; age 15; level 7 [Teen 5]
Dungeon Siege 3; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
Enslaved; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
Heavenly Sword; age 15; level 7 [Teen 5]
Infamous; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
Infamous 2; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
Mercenaries 2; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
Mirror's Edge; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
Oblivion; age 15; level 7 [Mature 9]
Overlord; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
Overlord 2; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
Prince of Persia Trilogy; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5 & Mature 9]
Red Faction: Guerrilla; age 16; level 7 [Mature 9]
Sacred 2; age 16; level 7 [Mature 9]
Star Wars 2: Force Unleashed; age 16; level 7 [Teen 5]
The Orange Box; age 15; level 7 [Mature 9]

Well done to all of you. Now the ones who get it wrong:

Alice: Madness Returns; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Assassin's Creed; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Assassin's Creed: Revelations; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Brutal Legend; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Call of Duty World at War; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Darksiders; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Deus Ex: Human Revolution; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Kingdoms of Amalur; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Mass Effect 2; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Rage; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Resistance: Fall of Man; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Silent Hill HD Collection; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]
Skyrim; age 15; level 9 [Mature 9]

[So although all the incorrect ones would be correct in the US some of the correct wrongs would be incorrect; so it can't be used as an absolute guide]

As can be seen both the Assassin's Creed and Elder Scrolls series change despite the fact their age rating doesn't. Also on the odd note they're all 15s which doesn't have an exact match with Sony documentation, did the publishers just guess or default to level 9? I decided to do a little test. As these were all PAL European releases what are the age-certification for their German counterparts.

To pick a couple Infamous is listed as an 18; so does the German Infamous share our level 7 or has it been corrected for them to level 9? On the other hand Assassin's Creed is close to our 15 with 16; so again is theirs incorrectly posted to level 9? 16 is an age match for Sony so if it's some automated software matching age to restriction I'd guess the German version of Assassin's Creed should be a 7, if there is anyone who knows someone with the German version I'd be very interested to find out.

It may seem pointless, but in essence these games are being mis-sold in the UK. They are clearly stating they are for those of age 15, or 16 and above yet internally restricted to age 18. Sure they can still be played, but only after the input of a parental code.

For comparison imagine buying a universal remote control that states it will work with your TV, but you discover that you need to use the original remote in conjunction with it for the first time every time you turn the TV on. How irritated would you be?

It's the same with these games. The companies have got it wrong, need to be told, and need to do something about it. So why aren't they? Why when I do a search do I not find a horde of 15,16, or 17 year-olds complaining about having to have their parents tap in a code to play a game that they are legally able to play?

Because no-one uses the parental control systems?


Anonymous said...

The disparity appears to be because the game level restriction is set according to the US ESRB rating of the game. Go to to find the real rating of the game before purchase. The BBFC classification is not utilised in the restriction. It seems to go by the ESRB rating only.

FlipC said...

Except sadly that doesn't always work either.

Assassin's Creed 2 and Brotherhood are both ESRB'ed as "Mature" which means they should be a level 9. But here in the UK they're 15's and correctly set to level 7.

Likewise all the "Teens" should, according to Sony, be set to level 5.