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EA CEO calls for universal game rating system

"We are confusing the consumer," says Riccitiello

John Riccitiello, CEO of EA and chairman of the US Entertainment Software Ratings Board, has said the global growth of the video games audience necessitates a global rating system applicable to all formats and regulated by the industry itself.

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The publishing executive was speaking in Washington DC yesterday, where he appeared to accept the Media Institute's annual American Horizon Award for "visionary leadership in promoting the vitality and independence of his industry", Polygon reports.

Riccitiello told event attendees including numerous politicians and key members of the Federal Communications Commission: "We live in an incredible age. In the past three years the audience for games has grown from roughly 200 million, to over one billion.

"Virtually everyone on the planet who owns a phone can play a game. The Supreme Court has given us the same First Amendment rights as authors, musicians and film makers - a set of rights which we cherish.

"But as we are so often told: With great freedom, comes great responsibility. To live up to that responsibility, we need to do a better job informing the consumer, no matter the channel, the platform or the geography. We must adopt a self-regulated, global rating system across every format games are played on."

Last year the ESRB and the CTIA Wireless Association announced a partnership intended to bring the ESRB ratings system to mobile phone games and apps. However, the system was presented as voluntary, requiring developers to fill out a questionnaire and specify details on content pertaining to sex, profane language, drug references, location sharing and user-generated content.

While a number of major mobile service and hardware providers including AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless signed up, Apple and Google - the two market leaders - were not amongst them.

According to Riccitiello Apple, Google and Facebook continue to work in "good faith" towards the adoption of a standardised rating system.

Earlier this year ESRB president Patricia Vance said it was working with a number of international ratings bodies to develop a global solution to video game ratings, and according to Riccitiello a proposal is still being drawn up.

"The elegance of this concept is not just in its simplicity, but in the way it balances local cultural norms with a common global standard," he said.

"We're at a point in history when we've never been so free to create and distribute content. But we're also at a point when we need to update the way we inform consumers.

"Consumers are finding many new places to get their games - Facebook, Google, Apple, as well as services like Steam and Origin. Most have a rating system, but none are consistent. Consequently, we are confusing the consumer."

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