ISFE responds to UK’s DCMS Committee findings on video game sector
In response to today’s findings by the UK's DCMS Committee report on immersive and addictive technologies, ISFE CEO Simon Little said:
“As an industry we take the welfare of our players, including minors and our responsibilities toward them, extremely seriously. ISFE is at the forefront of raising the bar in harmonised self-regulation across Europe. It leads initiatives on responsible game-playing via parental controls tools and information campaigns at national level and the Pan European Game Information body, PEGI, issues age ratings and content descriptors for video games in 38 European countries. Our industry is fast-evolving; we adapt accordingly and will continue to do so. ISFE has a strong track record of working with regulatory authorities on matters of consumer and minor protection and, in light of this report, we would invite further dialogue to ensure a full understanding of our industry and its continued commitment to gamer safety and wellbeing.”
The video games sector’s commitment to transparency, responsible gaming and protection of minors
Several major video game companies have announced new initiatives to help consumers make informed choices about their in-game purchases.
Many of the member companies of ISFE, including console makers and publishers, have committed to implementing new policies to provide disclosures to inform consumers about the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomised virtual items for their video games (e.g. loot boxes). The major console makers will require paid loot boxes for games developed for their platforms to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomised virtual items and are targeting 2020 for implementation. Additionally, major publishers have agreed to disclose the relative rarity or probability of obtaining in-game virtual items from purchased loot boxes no later than the end of 2020. Several publisher members already provide disclosure and many additional members are considering a disclosure. These disclosures will apply to all new games and updates to games that add loot box features. For more information, please consult the ESA website
The in-game purchase descriptor
The Pan European Game Information body, PEGI, launched an in-game purchase descriptor in August 2018 to ensure that consumers are aware prior to the purchase of a video game if the game includes in-game purchases. The in-game purchases descriptor applies to all games that offer the option to purchase digital goods with real currency. It started appearing on physical releases towards the end of 2018, and was already applied to digital only games.
Importantly, the major game platforms have parental controls that allow parents to require prior authorisation for any in-game spending or to disable in-game spending completely. Through its pan-European age rating system, the sector runs information campaigns across Europe in local languages to inform about responsible play and to provide tips for parents. The video games industry takes its responsibility to children extremely seriously. ISFE aims to ensure that parents are informed about the video games their children are playing and importantly to provide parents with information how they can control their children’s game play.
ISFE opposes gambling
ISFE has expressed concern about gambling sites that appropriate video games style characters and graphics to attract minors into gambling. ISFE calls on authorities to further support efforts to stop illegal practices such as “skin betting” where third party gambling sites allow minors to bet and trade on virtual items. Video games businesses do not allow, facilitate, or condone the conversion of virtual currencies or other in-game items into money or the use of them within unlicensed third-party gambling sites.
Excessive use of video games exists for a small minority of players and should be taken seriously. Our sector regularly informs players on the importance of taking breaks. We support and promote responsible gaming initiatives and communities across Europe https://www.isfe.eu/responsible-gameplay/
Importantly, parental controls are easily accessible to parents to control (i) the time their children spend on the game, (ii) the type of game the child can access according to its age and indicated age rating, (iii) the possibility to disable any in-game spending (iv) and to safeguard the online privacy. No other sector offers as sophisticated parental control tools as the video games sector.
Tips for parents:
- PEGI parental control tool guide
- Information about responsible game play and link to national information campaigns
- Tips for parents on how to deal with outside game trading and skin gambling
- Information on PEGI