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Frequently Asked Questions

How many retailers are currently working with the ESRB?

Virtually all major national retailers, countless independent retailers and many game center operators are working with the ESRB to educate their customers and employees about ESRB ratings and store policies regarding the sale or rental of M (Mature) and AO (Adults Only) rated games. Click here for a list of retail partners and ESRB Retail Council (ERC) members.

 

In 2005, the ESRB Retail Council (ERC) was established to further the commitment of national retailers in the United States to support ESRB ratings. In Canada, numerous national and local retailers participate in the Retail Council of Canada Commitment To Parents program, which includes supporting ESRB ratings education and enforcement of store policies not to sell or rent M (Mature) and AO (Adults Only) rated games to customers under 17 and 18 years of age respectively. Click here for a list of participating retailers.

 

 

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What is the ESRB Retail Council?

The ESRB Retail Council (ERC) is a group of national retailers in the United States committed to educating consumers about ESRB video game ratings, compliance with store policies restricting the sale of M (Mature) and AO (Adults Only) rated video games to customers who are at least 17 and 18 years of age, respectively (unless permission from a parent has been obtained), and providing parents with the ability to return or exchange games sold to their children in violation of those policies. The ERC also helps provide store associate training materials with respect to ESRB ratings and allows member retailers to share best practices to improve performance. Finally, the ERC facilitates regular self-auditing, the results of which ERC members may use to help gauge their performance and facilitate improvements, where necessary. All ERC members have committed to comply with the ERC Code.

 

 

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Will ESRB provide ratings signs for my store?

The ESRB relies on retailers to print signs for their stores. Upon registration, retailers can either download high-resolution artwork or order signs directly from an authorized vendor.

 

 

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Is the retail partnership program limited to in-store signs about ratings?

The ESRB's retail partnership program includes a variety of components including store policy signs, sales associate training information, PSAs for print ads and online banner ads, rating information for websites and much more.

 

 

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Does the retail partnership program provide materials for game center operators?

Yes. Upon registration, game center operators can download ratings education artwork or order signs directly from an authorized vendor. The ESRB also provides game center sales associate training information.

 

 

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Am I breaking any laws if I do not display ratings education signage?

In the United States, ESRB works closely with video game retailers and their trade association, the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) to provide the tools necessary to ensure that ratings education signage is displayed in stores throughout the country. For specific federal, state and local regulations regarding the sale or rental of computer and video games or display of ratings education signage in the U.S., please contact the EMA. In Canada, please contact the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and/or Entertainment Software Association Canada (ESA Canada).

 

 

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Is it illegal to sell or rent M (Mature) or AO (Adults Only) rated games to customers under 17 and 18 years of age respectively?

A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 found that video games are a constitutionally-protected form of expression, and that laws restricting their sale or rental based upon violent content are unconstitutional. That said, ESRB supports retailers' voluntary policies restricting the sale or rental of M (Mature) and AO (Adults Only) computer and video games in the United States and Canada to customers who are at least 17 and 18 years of age, respectively (unless permission from a parent has been obtained). Through efforts such as the ESRB Retail Council (ERC) and a strong commitment on the part of major video game retailers, retail stores have vastly improved the rate at which they comply with their store policies, as measured both by the ERC mystery shopper audits as well as audits conducted by the FTC. More information on federal, state and local regulations in the U.S. is available through the websites of the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and Entertainment Software Association (ESA). In Canada, you may contact the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESA Canada) or the Retail Council of Canada (RCC).

 

 

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How effective has the retail partnership program been?

Through direct retail partnerships and the efforts of the ESRB Retail Council (ERC) in the U.S. and the Commitment to Parents initiative in Canada, the ESRB has successfully implemented ratings education programs with every major video game retailer in North America. Retailers' commitment to enforcing their store policies has also been furthered through ESRB's efforts, as evidenced by the high levels of compliance reported through ERC mystery shopper audits in the U.S. The ESRB also provides ratings education materials to numerous independent retailers and game centers. On an annual basis, over one billion consumer impressions are generated through the retail partnership program, which continues to contribute to greater awareness and use of the rating system by parents and other consumers. These successes would not be possible without the significant support of retailers throughout the United States and Canada.

 

 

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