ESRB Retail Council
The ESRB Retail Council (ERC) was voluntarily established in November 2005 to facilitate regular communication and input for consideration on matters of common interest to U.S. computer and video game retailers and the ESRB. Chief among these interests is to ensure that ERC retail member companies support ratings education and store policy enforcement programs, which are summarized in the ERC Commitment to Parents Code.
In support of ratings education and enforcement, the Code commits ERC members to using their best efforts to:
- Enforce store policies not to sell or rent M (Mature) rated computer and video games to customers under the age of 17 without permission from a parent or guardian;
- Not sell or rent AO (Adults Only) games to customers under the age of 18;
- Display signage in stores describing the ESRB rating system and retailer’s policy regarding sale and rental of M- and AO-rated games;
- Train store associates about ESRB ratings and game sales procedures/policies;
- Participate in at least two “mystery shopper” audits each year to measure and track the level of sales policy enforcement, with results posted in aggregate on the ESRB website;
- Resolve complaints from customers regarding non-compliance with store policy regarding the sale and rental of M- and AO-rated games and provide full refund or exchange for an age-appropriate game;
- Provide ESRB ratings on websites and, where feasible, in other promotional vehicles;
- Share best practices with other ERC members
In February 2010 the ERC launched a Website Committee to work toward improving ESRB rating information disclosure on retail member websites, and, where applicable, restrict underage user access to trailers and orders of video games rated M (Mature). In order to support ERC member performance improvement programs, ESRB conducts two online audits each year checking the accuracy of the ESRB rating information posted on ERC member websites.
Contact ESRB about ERC Member Compliance
To contact ESRB about an ERC retail member store's compliance with their store policy restricting the sale of M (Mature) and AO (Adults Only) rated games to children, click here
ERC Mystery Shop
One of the key components of the ERC is the commitment that its members participate in at least two “mystery shop” audits each year. This is an invaluable means of helping retailers gauge their performance in enforcing their voluntary store policies restricting the sale and rental of M-rated games and their compliance in displaying ESRB rating signage.
Each of these biannual audits includes a minimum of 100 retail stores for each ERC member. The audits involve a consumer under the age of 17 attempting to purchase or rent a computer or video game rated M (Mature) by the ESRB, and measures whether the customer was able to complete the transaction. The audit also measures if the store displays signage explaining the ESRB rating system and the store's policy with regard to the sale of M-rated games. The overall results are provided to ERC member retailers for performance improvement purposes. The results in aggregate are publicly available in the chart below.
ERC Website Audit
ESRB conducts two audits each year of ERC member websites checking the accuracy of rating information on approximately 100 video game item web pages per member website. The overall results of the online audits are shared with ERC members for performance improvement plans and are presented in aggregate in the chart below.