[casual_games] If Vista is going to be such a problem...
Thomas H. Buscaglia
thb at gameattorney.com
Thu Dec 21 23:37:49 EST 2006
Brian R. just sent the schedule for ESRB rating
to the IGDA board and for downloadable console
games is only $400. The IGDA is in the process
of contacting the ESRB to see if they can apply
that same rates to downloadable casual games (or
whatever they are called!) since right now,
classed as PC games, they are at the $2,500 level.
>So, I have read all of the posts, and the thing I can't get past is: how is
>it that MSFT is proposing to maintain the current great push for independent
>content when the base cost for ESRB rating is $2-3,000. I mean, that is like
>the complete art budget (or more) for a lot of startup independent game
>developers. Or to put in perspective, assuming they are shipping on the
>major portals, and getting a very optimistic 1/2 the $20 revenue, it's the
>first 300+ units sold, just to pay for the ratings. That's a barrier to
>entry that is going to slice out the entire lower end of the market.
>And I cannot buy "well - sell to people who don't turn on the parental
>controls" response. That may work for games that target the hardcore users
>who will defiantly leave the nanny-locks off, but our core users -
>grandmothers, soccer moms and parents - are the *definition* of the people
>who would be using these controls.
>All nitpicking and complaining about monopolies aside, I think we can all
>safely assume that casual games that do not show up on the Games Explorer
>window with the highest levels of parental controls turned on are at a steep
>disadvantage to those that do. I suggest that the most productive place to
>take this discussion is to start there and try to sort out how even a
>startup garage developer on a hobby budget could make that happen with his
>For instance, is it possible that the ESRB could give some sort of breaks to
>the portals, at the very least? Aggregators like Big Fish and Oberon put up
>dozens and dozens of games a month, and have a vested interest in keeping
>their products clean and safe for their core audience. Maybe they could have
>the power to push through "bundle charges" for ratings or even assign
>ratings, since it should be trivially easy for the ESRB to safely hand out E
>ratings for just about everything on these portals...? Then the developers
>could take those ratings and use them for all builds of the game? It
>certainly would make a great "value add" for a distribution deal with a
>Or is it possible that casual game developers could get a "minigame" ESRB
>ratings package, which is substantially cheaper, based on he volume of
>content required to check? I mean, you should be able to look at Diner Dash
>or Bejeweled for like 2 minutes to see that this is safe content, no? Why
>should they be charged the same price for evaluation as games like Far Cry
>or Gears of War - which must take days and days to look through the content?
>These - or better ideas - are certainly in the real of something the IGDA
>could help with, no?
>Also - as a side question - how does the ESRB deal with rating products like
>MMORPGS, where there is a great deal of user-entered data? There is nothing
>protecting little Timmy from seeing naughty words there in chatting
>environments, or seeing an orc-player hump a dead body... Not to mention
>products like Second Life, where whole sections of the game are
>user-built-content? Even something as simple as the online highscore table
>in our game Magic Lanterns can (and has) been used by some users to post
>sexually and racially insensitive words... How is that rated by the ESRB? I
>am sure everyone else here knows the answer to that question - I just don't.
>Real Fun. Right Now.
>Casual_Games mailing list
>Casual_Games at igda.org
Thomas H. Buscaglia, Esquire
The Game Attorney
T. H. Buscaglia and Associates
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