ESRB to drop “Short Form” ratings system for downloadable games | PCGamesN

ESRB to drop “Short Form” ratings system for downloadable games


Content ratings are required by most major retail platforms before they’ll list a game, and the ESRB, the North American ratings board, is one of the largest ratings-granting organizations in the world. ESRB will be discontinuing their “short form” ratings system, which has allowed smaller developers to obtain a rating free of charge, but they say indie devs should still be able to get rated without having to pay the fee associated with the “long form” used for boxed retail releases.

Developers have been concerned about the announcement that the ESRB will be dropping the free short form rating system since the cost associated with the long form, which includes a rating summary by the board, can in some cases be prohibitive.

They're free, but they do have ratings. Here's our list of the best free games you can find on Steam.

“Another way to squeeze blood out of the indie stone,” Necrosoft director Brandon Sheffield wrote on Twitter May 16.

The ESRB responded to his tweet, saying that digital games and apps developers will still be able to obtain ESRB ratings using the International Age Rating Coalition system, a conglomerate of ratings organizations that secures age ratings for games across multiple regions.

Apparently trying to further quell fears, ESRB clarified further for, saying that they anticipate “no interruption” for downloadable games to be rated free of charge by the board, and they have not yet set a hard date for discontinuing the short form ratings process.

The IARC process for age rating, like the ESRB’s short form, gives developers and publishers a questionnaire to complete that asks about the content of their game. Based on the responses, the system automatically assigns an age rating for the appropriate territories and storefronts.

IARC represents age rating organizations around the world, including the ESRB, Europe’s PEGI, the Australian Classification Board, and several others.

Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
Jac Atax avatarQDP2 avatar
Jac Atax Avatar
1 Month ago

How much did it cost the ESRB to rate an indie game? With the proliferation of games I'm not surprised they are backing out of doing it for free.

QDP2 Avatar
1 Month ago

ESRB have always charged for their ratings, a quick google search comes up at $4000 for AAA productions (titles costing more than a quarter million to make) and $800 for anything less than that.

IARC is an automated ratings system from ESRB for developers of digital-games to meet a regulations standard without the expense of ESRB. At the moment you still need ESRB if you want to release physical copies of your game, or if you want to bring a game to the PlayStation; but an IARC rating is enough for Xbox to accept your title onto their digital store, and Steam will happily accept games with no age-ratings, as they only sell digital titles.

Reading more into the article, it doesn't seem like ESRB have plans to halt this process either. They're not changing how IARC works. In fact they're suggesting the change in form of ESRB to digital media will lead to the new digital ESRB ratings becoming free to developers of console downloadable games. I admit I don't follow the reason for change of the digital rating format or their business direction increasing their expenses, but it seems like a positive change for developers.