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ESRB Eyeballing Ratings For iPhone Games

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the why-not-go-for-flash-games-too-while-you're-at-it dept.

Cellphones 72

Kotaku reports that the ESRB is thinking about expanding their game ratings to include games sold on the App Store. They realize that evaluating every single game is not feasible, but they may still be underestimating the amount of work they'd be taking on, and it could negatively affect some developers. Quoting: "'ESRB has seen increases in rating submissions each year since its founding and has always been able to keep pace,' the ESRB's Eliot Mizrachi told us. 'We have rated more than 70 mobile games to date and will undoubtedly rate more in the future as the market grows.' Seventy? Over the past, what, four or five years? It's a piddling number when you think of the hundreds of games available through the App Store. Further, many of them are mobile adjuncts to console releases, a different sort of beast from iPhone games. Not all of those need or deserve a rating; but if Apple brings in the ESRB to rate games, with the idea that it'll help parents control what their kids buy for their iPods, then unrated games are likely to be blocked by such filters. The incentive would definitely be there to get a game rated. And what of the cost? Getting a game rated isn't a free service; the ESRB levies a fee that covers the cost of looking through the code and rating the game."

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72 comments

I believe machinima said it best (-1, Offtopic)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333369)

If you've got a browser, this one's for you [google.com] .

Seems pointless (4, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333391)

When you submit an app to the App Store, you already have to select various categories your app falls into (e.g. you might select realistic violence: frequent/intense), which result in a rating that is a direct analogue of ESRB ratings (Apple publishes a table showing the equivalents). iPhone OS 3.0 will make use of these ratings so a parent can lock out content they think is inappropriate from their children's phones. Apple have shown themselves more than willing to lay down the law to app developers, so why would the ESRB need to get involved?

Re:Seems pointless (2, Interesting)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333479)

so why would the ESRB need to get involved?

Probably pressure from "concerned parents" and/or government officials.

Re:Seems pointless (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333749)

As long as Apple has a rating system, I don't really see this being a problem.

Re:Seems pointless (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28337683)

Some people may not trust Apple's ratings against a standing system such as ESRB

Re:Seems pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28333593)

As much as I'm opposed to these ratings in general...

You probably can't depend on the app developer to rate the app appropriately.

Re:Seems pointless (2, Insightful)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333661)

I don't really see a developer mislabeling their own app.
If anyone knows the content of their game, it's them, and what do they have to gain from mislabeling their game?

Re:Seems pointless (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335077)

Developer Trolls?

Goatse: The iPhone app

Re:Seems pointless (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335687)

*cough Hot coffee mod cough cough*

Re:Seems pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28353659)

On network television, there is a constant struggle between the writers trying to tell the story they want to tell and the networks forcing the tv show into a specific rating (it must be PG13 or else we will miss a large chunk of our target demographic!). For examples, watch pretty much any commentary track by Joss Whedon for any of his tv shows.

It's kind of naive to think this sort of stuff doesn't occur in video games. Someone already mentioned Hot Coffee. Oblivion and Manhunt are other fairly recent examples of conflict between game developers and the ESRB.

Re:Seems pointless (3, Insightful)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333753)

Um... ALL of the content that gets rated is fluff. It's gore levels and detail of the violence and amount of cleavage and bad words. You put that stuff in to attract mature audiences, why would you hide it with the rating tag?

Re:Seems pointless (3, Interesting)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333823)

Why wouldn't they? If someone reports it as incorrectly rated, I would think Apple would either take it down or (hopefully) correct the inconsistency - and in either case, contact the developer.

Re:Seems pointless (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334009)

Because the ESRB believe it is a real ratings board and in order to prevent its irrelevance occasionally needs to stick its nose in where it doesn't belong.

Re:Seems pointless (3, Insightful)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335703)

It's a voluntary ratings board. Remember, it's the only thing that's kept the government from stepping in with a ratings system of its own.

Re:Seems pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28356275)

So in other words, you have a choice between a ratings system and a ratings system. Doesn't seem too voluntary to me.

Re:Seems pointless (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334091)

The next step up would be to crowdsource it. Have users give each game a star rating and an age-appropriateness rating. Let the broad population decide what is and isn't appropriate.

Only after self-rating and crowd rating have failed, should you resort to rating by elite secret boards.

Cashgrab (2, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335279)

...so why would the ESRB need to get involved?

Just read the tags.

The ESRB doesn't rate games out of the goodness of its heart. It's not funded by a generous contribution from viewers like you. Ratings cost money, often far more money than small developers could hope to afford. The ESRB sees a growing market and wants its cut.

While there may be a political argument for ratings (i.e. keep the politicians out of that business), that political argument is completely separate from the "standards" argument--in other words, I believe that a consistent, instantly recognizable ratings system a la the ESRB is unnecessary to satisfy the courts that there is a "less restrictive means" than government interference, which plays a major role in relevant First Amendment cases (I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice).

So yeah, if I were a small iPhone game developer, I would condemn the ESRB's reaching for my money in the strongest language possible, and point out that content is already put through a review process by Apple.

P.S. Why is there no whitespace between my HTML paragraphs!? Very sad...

Never Mind... (1)

Alaren (682568) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335295)

P.S. Why is there no whitespace between my HTML paragraphs!? Very sad...

Apparently "Preview" is no longer functioning as WYSIWYG? My bad.

Re:Cashgrab (2, Interesting)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335919)

Actually, probably the best reason is this: Why should Apple get a free ride on its games? The PSP and DS need their games rated, and the iPhone is being pushed as a viable gaming platform, with an install base reaching the PSP's. If Apple's platform is outside the established ratings, and becomes very much popular, the voluntary ratings system falls apart. The ESRB is administered by the industry, which is preferable to a governmental agency doing so, and remember, the government over the years has said that if movies or video games didn't handle it themselves, they would.

ESRB != Voluntary Ratings Process (1)

Alaren (682568) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341703)

Why should Apple get a free ride on its games? The PSP and DS need their games rated...

Read grandparent post again. Apple does rate its games, sort of. Though strictly speaking, the PSP and DS do not "need" their games rated--ESRB ratings are probably required by the console manufacturers, but that's an industry choice, not a regulatory requirement.

If Apple's platform is outside the established ratings, and becomes very much popular, the voluntary ratings system falls apart.

Only if you think "voluntary ratings system==ESRB." Which is simply not true. Every video game company could easily adopt its own ratings system. The benefits of uniformity have thus far outweighed the costs, but there's no reason to believe that will always be the case. I think the small developers who can't afford ESRB attention are starting to show that you don't need a central entity doing the work--on the games or on the ratings.

...the government over the years has said that if movies or video games didn't handle it themselves, they would.

"The government" over the years has also said that attempts to do so would fail under a First Amendment analysis. You can't take threats from congressmen or executives as what "the government" says without also taking into account what the courts have said. I'm not going to conduct a "strict scrutiny" analysis for you here, but suffice it to say that the ESRB is far from the only thing preventing government interference--and their scaremongering on precisely this point should be condemned by everyone in the industry.

what they really need.... (2, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333461)

is a cowboyneal review board to certify the fart apps.

Re:what they really need.... (1)

SmackTheIgnorant (985978) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333515)

So what's to stop something from being an "app" instead of a "game" ? "It's an application designed to train reflexes through context-sensitive touching" and the like?

Re:what they really need.... (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334161)

... to train reflexes through context-sensitive touching

Sounds like me when I'm all alone with my pr0ns.

Re:what they really need.... (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335937)

Easily. The government will get pissed off, and step in. I can't believe how many people forget all the times the government's tried to pass video game laws that didn't go simply because the ESRB is doing a good job.

Game experience may change during online play (3, Insightful)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333483)

I don't buy or play games based on their ESRB rating. I do not judge games or content for my children based on the ohsosubjective ratings process [esrb.org] . These guys provide no value-add, just seems to be a money catch.

Oh, MPAA [mpaa.org] , you can lose your ratings as well ... I'm an adult, a participating parent, and I prefer to allow my children to experience and ask questions rather than become numb little fat kids with Nicktoons as a babysitter and therefore do not need your assistance in choosing appropriate content for my children.

It's not a money (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333565)

It's a "Keep the politicians the fuck out," action. The reason that the MPAA started rating movies was because there were grumbles that maybe the government should start doing it. Well you can ask our Aussie friends how much they like a government run system. So instead the movie industry set up a voluntary ratings system. It is completely voluntary, and if you sniff around you find there are plenty of films not submitted for ratings. However most do get submitted and rated. Thus they can say "No need for a government ratings system, we take care of it ourselves."

Was the same logic with the ESA and ESRB. They are trying to keep congress the fuck away from game ratings because they know that'll be a huge shit storm. Instead there is a voluntary ratings system that most companies use. It isn't required, looking at Impulse right now there's a couple of new indy games on there that aren't ESRB rated, whereas the big name games are. Also it isn't the only one out there. PEGI is a European equivalent. Many games are rated by both, however I've encountered US titles that were PEGI rated rather than ESRB, Civ 4 comes to mind.

So that's the idea. It isn't that the ESA is trying to extort money, it is that they are trying to protect their market from politics. They want game makers to be able to develop games without having a congressionally appointed committee saying "Nope, that's not ok, you can't do that." They do charge for the service, but it makes sense since yes, it DOES take time and effort for people to go through a game and rate it.

It's good that you don't use ratings as a "This is ok," guide for your children, however that doesn't mean that the whole ratings process is worthless. It is more about CYA than anything else. Also, ESRB ratings are pretty good. While they are subjective, all ratings will always be, they give specific reasons for a rating on the box. On the front there is the letter that lets you know what the rating is, but on the back there is a larger explanatory panel. For example Prototype is a new game rated M. The reasons listed are Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language. Sacred 2 is also rated M, it's reasons are Blood and Gore and Violence. Now that sort of thing is helpful, though the ratings are the same, the reasons are a bit different. Suppose you are ok with violence, but not swearing (ok so that's stupid, but just suppose) then maybe you decide that Sacred 2 is a game that you can consider.

So really, I'm happy with ESRB ratings. I don't use them to make any kind of buying decision, I don't have kids, but I like that it is working to keep politics out of game rating. Otherwise, it'll just be a huge problem.

For example they might find a crafty way to try and get around the first amendment. So they pass a law saying all games must be rated by the Government Ratings Board to be allowed to be sold. They aren't restricting your expression, just saying that if you want to sell the games they have to be rated. However they decide they want to ban what are now M rated games. So what they do is set up ratings for lower games, but then keep disagreeing on what goes in the highest rating. So you submit a game, and it gets shot down, they won't rate it because they don't have the rating for it. You claim free speech and they say "We aren't restricting your speech, you are free to make the game, you just can't sell it right now since we don't have a metric for how to rate it." Net effect? Game is banned and such a law might survive a court challenge.

So let's keep the voluntary ratings thing going here. Give the government as few reasons as possible to get involved in regulating games.

Re:It's not a money (4, Insightful)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333775)

The one think I really have against the ESRB: Halo a higher rating than Medal of Honor. Even though MoH has you shooting humans over government pissing and land grabs and Halo has you shooting aliens in self defense because they're trying to wipe you out.

They only rate the fluff, not the context. That and of course, boobies get a higher rating than shooting someone with a gun... WTF?

That's a no brainer (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334513)

They only rate the fluff, not the context. That and of course, boobies get a higher rating than shooting someone with a gun... WTF?

I dunno about you, but I always rate boobies higher than shooting someone with a gun... *rimshot*

Re:It's not a money (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336175)

Here in Germany (well Austria in fact) no one cares about boobies. But a drop of blood... Boom R18/16 or whatever. But only for games. Movies are somehow ignored.

Re:It's not a money (1)

stickrnan (1290752) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336973)

Ragdoll and gibs are an automatic M rating. I don't really know why they're so strict with ragdoll, but the gibs are pretty self explanatory.

Re:It's not a money (1)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333837)

I completely understand that Government controlling the ratings/review would probably lead to asshat legislation. The ratings still fail for the same reason, not by who is in charge of the review.

Re:It's not a money (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335971)

Would you rather crappy ratings system comes with force of legislation? Government BAD for regulating industries. Self-regulation still bad, but not as.

Re:It's not a money (1)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336389)

I said they both make no sense. It's not a matter of which is worse, the fact that we need 'ratings' in the first place is the fail; more so when they are subjective and inconsistent.

What exactly is the point of a content rating value (regardless of who rates it), that I cannot derive from:
- The box artwork
- The box descriptive paragraph
- The game website
- The plethora of gaming review websites
- The demo (like actually playing the demo ;))

Why do I need a useless badge of 'acceptance' or 'description' from some turnkey outfit like the ESRB or the MPAA? If the goal is really to protect children, as a parent I clearly have several ways to do that without any help.

Re:It's not a money (1)

hendrix2k (1099161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334819)

So really, I'm happy with ESRB ratings.

Obviously you're not a developer.

Re:It's not a money (2, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334881)

It isn't that the ESA is trying to extort money, it is that they are trying to protect their market from politics.

No, it's a money grab. They are middlemen, and just like any other middleman, they are only there to make money by providing a service that no one really needs. If they want to keep the government out of their market, then why don't they? Being bullied into doing something isn't much better than having it done for you. Last time I checked, books don't have to submit to some asinine ratings system. Hell, even music albums only need a vague, nondescript "Parental Warning" sticker.

Uhhhhh (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334999)

So what, you think they just tell the government "Hey, you are never allowed to regulate us," and the government says "Ok,"? Wow, I had no idea it works that way! You really should go let the hedge fund managers know, the government is currently piling tons of new regulations on that which they don't like. If only they knew all they had to do was tell the government to stay out and they will! ...

Ya, sorry, doesn't work that way. The government has the authority to regulate basically anything they like. More to the point, they will start regulating something if people demand it, and you know there are all sorts of "parents" groups that would cry about the evils of unrated videogames. Thus a preemptive strike, self rating, is teh way to maintain independence.

Re:Uhhhhh (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343717)

I don't think think that providing a truly volunteer rating system would be such a bad thing. Listing the content of a product provides consumers with a way to make a (slightly more?) informed decision. The true problem, both with games and films, is that if you choose not to have your product rated, you are basically screwed. Most theaters will not show unrated films. Console manufacturers won't even allow "Adults Only" rated content on their systems, let alone unrated games. This is without even getting into the fallacies involved when a rater's personal biases get in the way of something that shouldn't be as objectionable as it often seems to become.

Why aren't the worries of all of those parents forcing Harry Potter books to display a sticker on the cover stating "Witchcraft and General Satanism Inside"? Why don't CDs have a breakdown of exactly why their lyrics are explicit? Furthermore, why do the explicit albums sit right on the shelf alongside more "wholesome" albums?

Re:It's not a money (1)

DrScotsman (857078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28345353)

Our government run system hasn't been completely bad in the UK these past few years. The problem with it and the Australians' system is that they have the power to BAN things. No one would be complaining about any government run system if they didn't have such power (assuming there wasn't a do-no-NC-17 mantra that plagues the US...we have that here for R18, but it takes a LOT to get a British R18 rating). And of course, if the MPAA were government run then you could cite the 1st amendment to prevent banning.

And seriously, can someone tell me what your MPAA was smoking when it gave "Howard The Duck" and "Short Circuit 2" PG ratings? (Yeah. I've been watching The Nostalgia Critic lately). One has duck boobs and another had complete downright swearing. I think at least the latter deserves a PG-13 rating a lot more than the thing in the Simpsons movie that made it PG-13 ;-)

Re:Game experience may change during online play (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333581)

Still, I think the MPAA should require all new Disney children's releases to carry the label: "Warning: May contain fart jokes."

Re:Game experience may change during online play (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334347)

You shouldn't use Any rating system as a fixed in stone, however more of a guide line.

I have seen some fairly disturbing G movies. as well some tame R. However you should see them as a normal curve line where the peaks are at different parts of the scale.

Re:Game experience may change during online play (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335459)

based on the ohsosubjective ratings process. These guys provide no value-add [...]

ESRB staff reviews the raters' recommended rating category and content descriptors, conducts a parity examination where appropriate to maintain consistency in rating assignments

Taking them at their word (this should raise a red flag, but let's just play "what if" for the moment), they try to make the ratings consistent with at least themselves.

This would mean that if you have experienced, say, Twilight Princess which has PEGI rating 12+ for violence (let's just assume it's rated Teen:Violence by ESRB), you know that a rating of Mature:Violence is going to be more violent and a game rated "Everyone" (no violence) is going to be less violent. That's (probably) the proposed value of ESRB. Whether you find it valuable is for you to decide. Disagreeing is perfectly valid (I do); agreeing because you trust the ESRB is also valid (although the question "what do you based your trust in ESRB on?" might be revealing). Acknowledging that you'd really want to judge yourself and discuss game content with your kids if you had the time, but you really prefer working so you can feed your kids... is also valid (and an unfortunate situation to be in).

Also, how could the process be made less subjective? I'm sure it would be possible to do psych experiments to see whether the particular imagery in one game causes players to be violent, and how that causality is dependent on age, but that's expensive and time-consuming. Guesstimating the game industry time scales, it can range between wildly or only moderately impossible. You could also do broad-brushed experiments and build up general guidelines which you then use to judge the game in question. For instance, do the potential harmful effects of depictions of violence depend on whether the target of violence is a human or not (say, an animal or a fantasy creature such as a dragon or zombie)? Does the display of blood vs. cartoony "Kapoww!!!" jagged polygons influence this? (And so forth). Even if you know the general guidelines, with enough variables, the guesstimation you have to do will become subjective.

Do you have a good idea how it could be made less subjective?

(I don't know how well ESRB works in practice, although I suspect them to be over-cautious)

Re:Game experience may change during online play (1)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28338621)

Do you have a good idea how it could be made less subjective?

Maybe. Probably not.

Why does there need to be levels (the subjective part of the objective element) of gore, violence, language or nudity? Why can't it just be "there is gore, there is profanity, there is nudity" instead of adding the ages? How do they know my 10 year old can't handle DOOM, or UT3? How does that rating apply to games where the gore and profanity _can be turned off or down_?

My children have been allowed to see what the MPAA categorizes as too mature for them. They ask real questions, they get real answers. They are going to experience this stuff in school, with their peers, with their friends -- why should they not have the tools and definitions of the events they see in games and in movies? I could cripple them with a heavy dose of Disney (not all that innocent with their adult humor in G movies) or Cartoons (again, not all that innocent either in some cases), but I choose to let them experience, and encourage discussion. Yes, dinner time at my house is often an adventure.

Time is Money (1)

qpawn (1507885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333499)

Apple has been known to take a long time to review many apps. If they were to have games rated through the ESRB, how much longer the process would take? On the same note, how much longer would it take to resubmit your app for approval if there is a rating dispute?

Re:Time is Money (1)

vintagepc (1388833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333715)

And will it be mandatory?
If it is, who's gonna foot the bill? I think we'd see a lot less new stuff if you had to pay to have your games rated.

If I made a game... (2, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333525)

...I'd use TIGRS [tigrs.org] rather than ESRB.

Re:If I made a game... (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334913)

I'd use TIGRS rather than ESRB.

And run the risk of your game not getting into the App Store, should Apple follow the policy of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo of making ESRB the exclusive ratings organization for the North American market.

Wild West (1)

Crock23A (1124275) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333533)

The iPhone is still a new platform and this is the Wild West of its development. Because the device rivals handheld gaming consoles like the DSi and PSP, it is only inevitable that the ESRB gets involved. Parental controls being added to iPhone OS 3.0 didn't surprise me either.

EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO (3, Funny)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333549)

ESRB should forget about the iPhone and start rating desktop applications. I'd like to know if it's acceptable to let teenagers play with NURBS in 3DS Max

Re:EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28333611)

NURBS in 3DS Max

NURBS are at least M (Mature). What with all the luscious curves and all ... RRRRrrrrrrawr.

Say what? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333555)

the ESRB levies a fee that covers the cost of looking through the code and rating the game.

The ESRB evaluates games by looking at the code? I very much doubt that. Wouldn't they be looking at the compiled game as it appears to the consumer?

Re:Say what? (2, Informative)

beowulfcluster (603942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333595)

I think the usual thing is that publishers send them footage of the 'worst' stuff in their game and the base the rating on that.

Re:Say what? (3, Informative)

bipbop (1144919) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333615)

It's changed a bit since the whole "Hot Coffee" thing, but for most of the existence of the ESRB, you basically rated your own game, sent them a tape with some stuff from the game, and then they rubber stamped it in exchange for your cash. It's pretty stupid, really.

Re:Say what? (1)

g-san (93038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28339753)

If that's the case, I'm going to run a genetic code generator for a few thousand iterations, get some really meaningless routines, make a random main(), add some TicTacToe code, then submit it for review: HotTicTacToe as a 7MB binary... Let them figure it out.

Think of the children! (4, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333567)

This is to protect all those young, impressionable minds out there that can afford a $400 phone and $100 a month for 3G service! Seriously, if a kid has one of these, he has more important things to worry about than "mature" elements in the games. Like getting mugged for this very expensive piece of hardware for instance. Won't somebody think of the children, and not load them up with this expensive shit that is just an invitation for them to get jacked?

Re:Think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28333867)

Let's not get carried away. The voice and data plan for the iPhone is $70/month, not $100/month. Not only that, but the iPhone 3G costs $99, not $400. Plus, all of those games are also playable on the $229 iPod touch that requires no service plan. The iPod touch is cheaper than every current home console except the XBox 360 arcade, and the games are much cheaper. You probably wouldn't call kids who have a 360 or PS3 spoiled, so why harp on this? Oh yeah, because it's Apple.

In the long run, the iPod touch is even cheaper than the DS and PSP, if you buy enough games. Games average less than $5. Even "expensive" games on the app store top out around $10. DS and PSP games typically retail from $30-40 new.

No, not all the games are great, but there are enough good games out there to keep most gamers busy for a while. Somebody who spends 30 hours a week playing games might not be satisfied, but someone who spends 10 hours a week certainly would be.

And getting jacked? Teach your kids to be careful about flashing their "expensive shit" and it will be a lot less likely to happen. Plus, they'll actually learn something.

There are a lot of things wrong with the iPhone and the app store (the approval process being the biggest problem), but the price of the hardware really isn't one of them. It's very affordable now, so there's no reason to get your panties in a bunch about it.

Who buys new games anymore? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335061)

Plus, all of those games are also playable on the $229 iPod touch that requires no service plan.

Then please allow me to rephrase Locke2005's comment: This is to protect all those young, impressionable minds out there that can afford a $229 MP3 player!

The iPod touch is cheaper than every current home console except the XBox 360 arcade

I find it slightly disingenuous to compare the iPod Touch to the home consoles. Only one player can fit on a handheld, which makes it less than ideal when you have friends over. Four players can fit on one home console, and a Wii with three extra controllers costs significantly less than three extra iPod Touch systems.

Even "expensive" games on the app store top out around $10. DS and PSP games typically retail from $30-40 new.

I don't have an iPod Touch myself, but could you tell me whether the "expensive" games on the App Store have a scope comparable to, say, Animal Crossing: Wild World or The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass? If not, then the games are of the same scope as games that typically enter the used cycle early and at cheap prices, or games on the DSi Shop.

Re:Think of the children! (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334569)

They could also be one of the many kids with a $229 iPod touch and no monthly contract. With nearly half the iDevices being touches, I'm sure there are at least a few kids among them. Isn't a PSP slightly more expensive, or around the same price?

Re:Think of the children! (1)

ekhben (628371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344117)

It's a sad statement on modern civilisation that kids in "first world" countries are so likely to get mugged in their home towns in broad daylight that it's taken as par for the course.

Wups, too down, time to read happy news!

Come on parents . . . (2, Insightful)

spamking (967666) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333633)

Be involved with your kids and actually take a look at what they're playing/downloading and act accordingly. Take it upon yourself to rate their games/apps.

ESRB Can Go Stick It (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333873)

I wish game companies would tell the ESRB to stick it. They're unregulated, inconsistent, and parents buy their kids games regardless of their ESRB rating most of the time. I would rather see a more useful rating system where they rate different categories separately. Give each game a 4-digit code; Violence, Sexual Content, Language, and Realism. 0-5 for each category. 0000 would be like Strawberry Shortcake's Magical Adventure and 5555 would be Duke Nukem Meets Leisure Suit Larry.

Re:ESRB Can Go Stick It (1)

Krakhan (784021) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334837)

During the time the various rating organizations were coming to be around 1994, there was a rating system from the Recreational Software Advisory Council [wikipedia.org] used for PC games. They had a rating scale of 0-4 for Violence, Sex/Nudity, and Language.

Of course, the main criticisms as pointed out in the wikipedia article include no general age guideline, it was only applied to computer games, and it was basically more complex and didn't stand out from the box, compared to the ESRB ratings. Either way, any rating system won't help if parents don't take them account when buying games for their children.

I definitely agree about the inconsistency of the ESRB ratings, though they've improved a lot since the last 15 years. For example, back around 1997 Final Fantasy VII for the PS1 had a Teen rating for 'realistic violence'. When it was rerated for the PS3 release on PSN, it was still rated as T, but with reasons being comic mischief, mild fantasy violence, mild language.

Re:ESRB Can Go Stick It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28335993)

Although it's a nice thought, the truth behind this is that many big retail stores such as Walmart and Target won't carry the game without a rating from the ESRB.

This is for children? (1)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334083)

So this is for all those 11 year olds with iPhones? Can I quickly ask what the fuck an 11 year old is doing with an iPhone?

Re:This is for children? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28334179)

It seems you forgot about the iPod touch.

Re:This is for children? (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334287)

I believe this applies to the iPod Touch as well. Same OS, same access to games on the App Store.

Re:This is for children? (2, Insightful)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28337691)

Can I quickly ask what the fuck an 11 year old is doing with an iPod? Or any device that REQUIRES him to start charging items to your credit card?

Are you people smoking crack?

This could spell doom for variety... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334671)

If Apple's behavior is consistent [slashdot.org] , this could be a very bad thing indeed.

If you remember from the linked story above, Apple blocked an e-reader because it was possible to read the Kama Sutra on it.

I would not be surprised in the least to see Apple adopt a 'no unrated games' option for their store.

Given the bandwidth issues and cost suggested in TFS, this could be quite bad indeed.

Cashgrab? (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336083)

The ESRB is non-profit. You can't exactly make a cash-grab if you're a non-profit entity. Anyone who says this is a cash grab is obviously just knee-jerk anti-regulatory.

The other jerk (2, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336309)

The ESRB is non-profit. You can't exactly make a cash-grab if you're a non-profit entity.

Holy crap are you ignorant about non-profits. Non profit is code for "not taxed" and as a result they are HUGE businesses with lots of money flowing through them.

The ESRB is no different, the money flows from the game industry.

Anyone who says this is a cash grab is obviously just knee-jerk anti-regulatory.

Better than being a regulatory jerk.

Re:The other jerk (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336439)

I think it is you who are ignorant of non-profits. They have tons of bookkeeping information that they have to keep to ensure they're not distributing that money outside the mandate of "A nonprofit organization is an organization that does not distribute its surplus funds to owners or shareholders, but instead uses them to help pursue its goals." So they could raise their salaries a bit, but the rest has to go back in to the company. I dunno about your country, but here in Canada, NPOs get shut down if they're diverting too much money to the salaries of the upper echelons without justification (more work, inflation, or similar). So unless the ESRB's looking to make a huge expansion, it doesn't seem like charging excessive amounts would help much.

Sorry ESRB, Apple is ahead of you (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336219)

The only reason a game maker would go to ESRB for ratings is that they are a known standard. Companies pay money to the ESRB to rate games.

Well sorry ESRB, you're not going to be able to suck the life out of indie development on the iPhone. You see, Apple has just replaced you - developers are now required to set age ratings on all apps, including games.

This basically means that Apple only has to police the line between adult and non-adult apps, to make sure anything lacking a 17+ rating is really clean. That's all the ratings were ever good for anyway, below that line it hardly matters if you are a bit off.

With Apple doing the level of verification required through the app review process, there's really no need for an ESRB rating though I'm sure some of the bigger game makers will probably get them. But the lack of them simply will not matter in the gaming environment on the iPhone.

Last I checked (1)

stickrnan (1290752) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336907)

the developers didn't submit code to the ESRB. The packet submit to the ESRB includes video of the game and descriptions of material of note ("character makes racially inflamed comments at X cutscene" or "suggestive character animations with Y action").

It's been a while since I've been in the industry and I only had to prep a packet once (pre-hot coffee). If anyone feels they should correct me with recent changes, please feel free.

It's a pretty simple act of watching a tape and reading a report for the ESRB. They have a set of rules put against the information given and apply the rating based on that.

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