Entertainment Software Rating Board    
 
 

 

ESRB History

 

1994 – ESRB founded by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA was renamed Entertainment Software Association in 2004)

1994 – New ESRB rating system announced, with 5 rating categories and 17 content descriptors
1995 – Advertising Code of Conduct created and adopted by the IDSA

1997 – ESRBi rating system established for the Internet, with 5 rating categories and 22 content descriptors
1997 - Online Rating Notice established to warn consumers of user-generated content in online-enabled games and on websites
1997 – “Instructional” and “Edutainment” content descriptors added to ESRB rating system
1998 – K-A (Kids to Adults) rating category changed to E (Everyone)
1999 – Series of ESRB Public Service Announcements launched featuring Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter and Regis Philbin
1999ESRB Privacy Online certification service launched
1999 – Non-pixilated versions of rating symbols introduced
2000 – Advertising Review Council established as division of ESRB to monitor compliance with industry-adopted marketing and advertising guidelines
2000 – ESRB enforcement system established to impose sanctions, including points, fines and corrective actions, on companies who do not comply with ESRB rules and guidelines
2000 – “Mild Lyrics,” and “Strong Lyrics” content descriptors introduced
2001 – New target marketing guidelines for Mature-rated games introduced
2002- “Partial Nudity,” “Nudity,” “Reference to Drugs,” “Reference to Alcohol,” “Reference to Tobacco,” and “Mature Humor” content descriptors introduced
2002 – Arthur Pober departs as ESRB’s founding president; Patricia Vance joins ESRB as its new president
2003 – ESRBi rating system for the Internet discontinued
2003 – “Cartoon Violence,” “Fantasy Violence,” “Intense Violence,” “Sexual Violence,” and “Crude Humor” content descriptors introduced
2003 – “OK to Play?” PSA and retail partnership campaign launched
2004 – “Mature Sexual Themes” content descriptor changed to “Sexual Themes;” “Simulated Gambling” and “Real Gambling” added as content descriptors
2005 – E10+ rating category introduced for games that may be suitable for ages 10 and older

2005Canadian Advisory Committee established

2006 – ESRB increases fine up to $1 million for non-disclosure of pertinent content

2006ESRB Retail Council (ERC) launched by ESRB and leading computer and video game retailers; "ERC Commitment to Parents" is adopted by all ERC retail members

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2006 – ESRB launches ratings education partnership with PTA

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2006 – National radio and TV PSA campaign promoting ratings awareness launched with U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joseph Lieberman

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2007 – ESRB launches ratings education partnership with GoodHousekeeping.com

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2007Ingram Entertainment, the leading wholesale distributor of home entertainment products, distributes ESRB ratings education signage to 10,000 independent and small chain video game retailers nationwide

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2008 – ESRB launches its ratings search "widget"

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2008 – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finds eight in ten underage buyers are turned away when attempting to purchase Mature-rated games

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2008 – PTA and ESRB release "Parents Guide to Video Games, Parental Controls and Online Safety"

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2008Rating summaries are introduced along with ESRB's mobile website at m.esrb.org

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2008 – ESRB establishes a partnership with Parenting

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2009ESRB Privacy Online launches E.U. Privacy Seal Certification program

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2009 – ESRB releases a free rating search app for iPhone

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2009 – ESRB joins Facebook and Twitter

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2009 – The FTC's sixth follow-up Report to Congress lauds ESRB for having "the strongest self-regulatory code" and confirms that retailers have maintained their 80% store policy compliance rate

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2010 – ESRB launches PSA campaigns with the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Blackhawks, both of which include TV and radio ads running in their respective regions as well as in-stadium/arena

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2010 – The ESRB Website Council (EWC) is established to help ensure that game enthusiast sites post complete rating information and employ age-gates on trailers and videos for M- and AO-rated games

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2010 – A new version of the ESRB's free mobile app is launched for Android (in addition to iPhone). Both allow users to look up rating summaries simply by snapping a photo of a game's packaging

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2011 – The FTC's mystery shopper study finds enforcement of entertainment ratings to be "highest among video game sellers" with 87% overall compliance

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2011 – ESRB introduces its first automated, streamlined process for assigning ratings to console downloadable games

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2011 – ESRB launches a version of its mobile app for Windows Phone and adds voice search to enable quicker, easier searches

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2011 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown v. EMA/ESA that video games qualify for First Amendment protection and the sale of violent games may not be restricted by law, a landmark decision that recognized the effectiveness of the ESRB rating system

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2011 – ESRB is commissioned by the CTIA, the trade association representing wireless carriers in the U.S., to develop and administer a rating system for mobile apps

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2011 – ESRB launches TV, radio and in-arena PSA campaign with the Washington Capitals

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2012 – ESRB releases a new print and online PSA campaign featuring real-life parents and gamers and artwork by Penny Arcade

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2012 – ESRB launches TV and radio PSA campaign with the San Francisco Giants with airings in AT&T Park and throughout the Bay Area during the 2012 MLB season

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2012 – ESRB introduces Digital Rating Service to provide cost-free ratings for digitally delivered games

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2013 – ESA and ESRB, in close collaboration with ESA member companies and other industry partners, launch a new PSA campaign informing parents and other consumers about the rating system, parental controls, and other tools to help ensure they choose video games appropriate for their family

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2013 – The FTC announces that video game retailers continue to have the highest level of store policy enforcement as compared to other entertainment retailers with 87% overall compliance

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2013 – ESRB's Safe Harbor privacy program is re-branded ESRB Privacy Certified featuring new seals and privacy resources for existing and new members

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2013Interactive Elements added to ESRB ratings for digital games and apps to inform about interactive aspects of a product, including users' ability to interact, the sharing of users' location with other users, or the fact that certain personal information may be shared with third parties

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2013 – ESRB updates its rating search app with a new design and enhanced rating search features and introduces new versions of the app for iPad and Android tablets

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2013 – New versions of the rating symbols are introduced with a cleaner, bolder look and less text, improving how the icons appear on mobile, online and other digital storefronts

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2014 – Led by the ESRB, the IARC began assigning rating information for games and apps on Mozilla's Firefox Marketplace on January 14

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2014 – ESRB celebrates its 20th anniversary. On September 16, ESRB issued a press release announcing its 20th anniversary and distributed video testimonials featuring insight, advice for parents and the continued support for ESRB from key industry members.

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2014 – ESRB distributes a series of parental instructional guides and online videos hosted by Monica Vila of TheOnlineMom.com, in both English and Spanish, for the PlayStation 4®, Wii U™ and Xbox One®

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2015 – ESRB announces the expansion in use of its video game ratings to mobile and digital storefronts in North America as part of The International Age Rating Coalition, a new global rating system developed with other rating authorities from around the world.



 
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