M-Rated Games Only Make up 5% of All US Releases

M-Rated Games Only Make up 5% of All US Releases

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Despite what your parents might think, the ESRB says that a mere 5% of all games released during 2010 were rated "M" for Mature.

It's a constant refrain that you're probably all too familiar with if you play videogames: Oh, videogames are so violent! They're all about shooting helpless people in the face / running people over with cars / beating up prostitutes / all of the above! For many non-gamers, gaming is seen as a thoroughly bloodsoaked hobby.

Yet that view isn't necessarily one supported by facts. According to the ESRB, the industry organization in charge of rating games in the US, it classified a mere 5% of releases as "Mature" in 2010 - about 82 titles out of 1,638. This was the second-smallest category, with EC (Early Childhood) accounting for a mere 1% of releases.

As expected, E (Everyone) took the lion's share with 55% of all games released in 2010, followed by T (Teen) with 21% and E10+ (Everyone 10+) with 18%.

So why do M-rated games get the spotlight?

They tend to sell better than their lower-rated counterparts, for one. Compare this breakdown with the top ten best-selling games of 2010 (in the US, according to NPD):

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Rated M)
2. Madden NFL 11 (Rated E)
3. Halo: Reach (Rated M)
4. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Rated E)
5. Red Dead Redemption (Rated M)
6. Wii Fit Plus (Rated E)
7. Just Dance 2 (Rated E10+)
8. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Rated M)
9. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Rated M)
10. NBA 2K11 (Rated E)

Ignoring that NPD recently declared Black Ops the best-selling game ever (in the United States), five of the top ten games on this list are rated M, four are rated E, and one is rated E10+. That's massively disproportionate compared to the percentage of M-rated games in the total release schedule.

There may not be more M-rated games, but it sure seems like more people are playing them.

(Via BigDownload)

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I assume this represents the number of titles by ESRB rating, not the number of units by ESRB rating? That's what it sounds like but I figured I'd check.

I find it more interesting that the top 10 includes no T rated games despite all we hear about this being the big target for game developers. I suppose when you have a blockbuster it matters less what the rating is you know you'll sell a ton of copies. If the publisher is less certain, or if you're only a hair over the line so it's easy to achieve T without serious compromise, the T rating is some added insurance that you'll sell a lot of copies.

I would like to point out that there weren't that many M-rated games released last year as compared to this year. I feel like we will see those numbers shift a little

You kind of need to adjust for the shovelware though, just because there are a lot of E rated games doesn't mean they particularly sell well.

Interesting. I didn't know so many "E for everyone" games were released. I expected the vast majority to be of the T and M ratings.

Odd considering most of the games I see advertised are T for teen

I want to see the pie of marketing dollars compared to rating. I bet it is completely different.

Ben Gepfrey:
I want to see the pie of marketing dollars compared to rating. I bet it is completely different.

In terms of marketing dollars it will probably be 80% T and M rated games. In terms of units sold I bet T and M rated games make up closer to 50% than the 25% on the chart above.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 came out in 2009, not 2010.

Just a thing I noticed.

Other than that, pretty interesting article.

Jonluw:
Interesting. I didn't know so many "E for everyone" games were released. I expected the vast majority to be of the T and M ratings.

Just think about all the "E" games released on the Wii and DS (Nintendogs etc). Its not too surprising when someone points it out. Theres a lot of E rated crap out there thats just flung at small children.

zHellas:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 came out in 2009, not 2010.

Just a thing I noticed.

Other than that, pretty interesting article.

Well, it's the best selling games of that year, not that games that came out that year. MW2 might have still been selling amazingly well in 2010 which is still up there even though it was released in the previous year.

Jonluw:
Interesting. I didn't know so many "E for everyone" games were released. I expected the vast majority to be of the T and M ratings.

Loud minorities.

Thanks, Modern Media!

James Raynor:
You kind of need to adjust for the shovelware though, just because there are a lot of E rated games doesn't mean they particularly sell well.

But nobody was claiming it did. In fact, the article points out otherwise.

NeedAUserName:

Jonluw:
Interesting. I didn't know so many "E for everyone" games were released. I expected the vast majority to be of the T and M ratings.

Just think about all the "E" games released on the Wii and DS (Nintendogs etc). Its not too surprising when someone points it out. Theres a lot of E rated crap out there thats just flung at small children.

Yeah, but I normally don't think about them, so when I'm reminded that they're so numerous it's quite surprising.

I wonder how the stats would look if you removed the Nintendo consoles from the equation though.

NeedAUserName:

Jonluw:
Interesting. I didn't know so many "E for everyone" games were released. I expected the vast majority to be of the T and M ratings.

Just think about all the "E" games released on the Wii and DS (Nintendogs etc). Its not too surprising when someone points it out. Theres a lot of E rated crap out there thats just flung at small children.

Yea. I don't find this surprising at all because the Wii is the biggest selling console this gen. If the 360 sold like that we would probably see a greater balance. Maybe not more M games than E, but a better balance.
Shovelware does tend to be E rated though and that's going to make up most of the market.

Of course M-rated titles aren't the majority. For every M-rated title released, the Wii/Kinect/Move is shoving five E-rated shovelware titles down our throats. Which isn't to say that there can't be bad M-rated titles or good E-rated titles, but generally that's how it goes.

Is there really that much Wii shovelware?

James Raynor:
You kind of need to adjust for the shovelware though, just because there are a lot of E rated games doesn't mean they particularly sell well.

That probably has a lot to do with it... but still, I find this hard to believe. Maybe it's because I'm a sick person, but over half of my games are rated M... I guess if you count for the awful movie/television show tie-ins that get pumped out for the Wii and DS, I guess this would make sense...

But will someone more dedicated than I please go on and make a list like this, except only using games that scored higher than 60 on Metacritic? I'm sure that the amount of E rated games will drop.

Not surprising. There's a lot of shovelware out there. I'm just glad no one buys them.

Well, most shovelware is rated E... I'd like to see that chart with what are considered 'quality games' though that's a gray criteria. I think the only E rated game I bought last year was NHL11 and Mod Nation Racers the latter being purchased BECAUSE it was E. My sister-in-law is very adimant that I don't play any 'violent games' with my 12-year-old nephew. (well and MNR is pretty fun)

This is of course despite the fact he has seen my shelf and talked to me at length about his favorite parts of some of those sexy and violent M rated games (which he played at a friends house)

Sorry 'bout that I kinda went on a tangent there.

This data is pretty much useless. The fact that numerous developers develop harmless shovelware for the Wii doesn't mean anything to gaming as a whole.

That is quite interesting actually, but as mentioned above, when you think about all the Wii and DS games released not entirely surprising.

As an experiment I did a quick roundup of my PS3 games for comparison, although I am in the UK so have an infuriating mix of PEGI and BBFC ratings. Never-the-less, here are the findings:

18+: 15 (37%)
15+/16+: 19 (46%)
12+: 4 (10%)
PG/7+: 3 (7%)
U: 0 (0%)

Yeah, my figures are a bit different huh. In fairness if I included *all* my games across all systems they'd resemble the figures in the article a bit better. What I'd like to see is a second chart showing sales figures vs ESRB rating. Without doubt the chart would shift towards the M and T rated games.

Well at least the Wii did something good for gamers. It's shovelware allowed us to pull out this little factoid on nay-sayers :D

rees263:
Without doubt the chart would shift towards the M and T rated games.

No doubt. Just goes to show that gaming isn't something that should be seen as for kids. Maybe once people realize that 8 year olds aren't the biggest market we can start having people treat games like any other medium.

 

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