BBFC hits back at critics

The BBFC has hit back at recent criticism from top dogs at Microsoft and EA, after they voiced their concerns over the Byron report's proposal that the group starts rating a larger proportion of video games in the UK.

Currently, the BBFC is only referred to a game if it includes a high level of violence or sexual content.

"We are disappointed and concerned about attempts by one or two videogames publishers to pre-empt, through recent press statements, the forthcoming public consultation on videogames classification," said the BBFC's Director, David Cooke

In response to EA's Keith Ramsdale who complained the proposed changes would lead to delays in releases, Cooke said: "The BBFC's current average turnaround time for games classifications is eight calendar days. In terms of international comparisons, this is notably quick. There is no reason why the increased role for the BBFC envisaged by Dr Byron should lead to delays."

He also responded to Microsoft's senior regional director for EDD in the UK and Ireland, Neil Thompson, who commented that the changes to the ratings system could cause the price of games to rise.

"BBFC classifications are already cheaper for many games than those under the Pan European Games Information System. Because the BBFC currently deals mainly with the most problematic games, BBFC costs will fall if, as Dr Byron recommended, we take on all games, physical and online, rated 12 and above," he said.

Cooke went on to rebut claims that the BBFC would be unable to cope with the expected glut of online and user-generated games.

"The BBFC is a larger and better resourced organisation than PEGI, and is well used to gearing up, and to providing fast-track services where appropriate. We reject any suggestions that the Byron proposals for dealing with online games are not future-proof," he explained.

"Countries such as the USA and Germany already classify such games in a way which reflects national cultural sensibilities. The BBFC has made clear that we are prepared to work through PEGI Online, which already recognises BBFC symbols. But, with online games, the real need is not a pan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundly based and independent initial classification, full information provision, and responsible self-regulation of online game-play backed by properly resourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms."

He concluded: "The games industry really does have nothing to fear from a set of proposals which would provide more robust, and fully independent, decisions, and detailed content advice, for the British public, and especially parents."

Wow. They really did get him riled up.


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