The Federal Trade Commission ran a secret shopper study and have found that 87% of minors were thwarted from being able to purchases mature rated video games. The same cannot be said for CD and R-rated DVD purchases as minors have been able to acquire them far more frequently.
The FTC used a group of minors from the ages of 13 to 16 and had them shop to purchase M-rated games, R-rated DVDs, Parental Advisory CD’s and tickets to R-rated movies. No adults were present in these shopping attempts.
Video games were regulated the best across all the categories. The best job regulating was Target, where Walmart, a direct competitor, did the worst job enforcing the ratings on games. Gamestop and Toys’R'US were also shopped with results close to Target, and BestBuy performed closer to Walmart.
Not all is good with Target though, as they performed the worst at enforcing the PAL on CDs, followed closely by Hastings and Barnes and Noble. Target also managed to sell the most R-rated DVD’s to minors followed closely by, once again, Barnes and Noble. Blockbuster, Boarders and Best Buy performed the best at 32%-38%, which really isn’t that good either.
Video games have been under the attack of late when comparing to DVDs and Movies. Congressmen and lawyers have been trying to put legislation in place to regulate video games for several years. These laws have all been deemed unconstitutional except for the California based law that is still being heard by the Supreme Court.
Here are the year to year changes as reported by the FTC.
- Music CDs. Retailers of explicit-content music demonstrated slight improvement since 2009 in enforcing the Parental Advisory Label – but still generally failed to prevent sales to minors. Nearly two-thirds of underage shoppers (64 percent) were able to purchase CDs with this label, down from 72 percent in 2009.
- Movie tickets. There was no statistically significant change in ratings enforcement at the movie box office. One-third of underage shoppers bought a ticket to an R-rated movie, up slightly from 28 percent in 2009.
- Movie DVDs. Retailers of R-rated and unrated DVDs demonstrated meaningful improvement in ratings enforcement, but there is room for more. Thirty-eight percent of shoppers purchased R-rated DVDs, compared to 54 percent in 2009. Forty-seven percent purchased unrated DVDs, down from 58 percent in 2009.
- Electronic games. Thirteen percent of underage teenage shoppers were able to buy M-rated video games, a statistically significant improvement from the 20 percent purchase rate in 2009.