PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in Secret Shopper Report

July 24, 2008 -

(note: this PTC secret shopper survey is not related to the one conducted by Baltimore's ABC-2 that GamePolitics has reported on over the past couple of days)

Watchdog group the Parents Television Council has issued a secret shopper report in which video game retailers fared noticeably worse than in results issued by the Federal Trade Commission in April.

Overall, the PTC claims that game retailers sold M-rated titles to underage buyers 36% of the time. As reported by GamePolitics, the FTC's secret shoppers succeeded in buying M-rated games at only a 20% rate.

As in the the FTC study, GameStop and Best Buy did very well, according to the PTC. Both retailers sold to underage buyers just 8% of the time. Circuit City (60%), K-Mart (50%), Hollywood Video (50%) and various local and regional stores (47%) compiled the worst results.

PTC president Tim Winter (left) was harshly critical of the video game industry in the PTC's press release:

...a disturbing percentage of video game retailers are failing to prevent America’s children from purchasing violent and sexually graphic video games.  Any failure rate is problematic, but the failure rate we’re seeing is downright pathetic.  Similar to age restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, pornography and other products that are potentially harmful to children, parents deserve a reasonable expectation that age restrictions for adult entertainment products will be enforced at the retail level.

 

It is outrageous that retailers are not exercising greater responsibility, and even more absurd that there are no meaningful consequences for those retailers who ignore their industry’s own age restriction policies... 

 

The video game industry would have us believe that the 1/5 failure rate as reported by the FTC is acceptable and that parents need not worry.  Our analysis shows a 1/3 failure rate.  Perhaps the retailers felt the pressure was off after the FTC’s report was published... While we applaud Game Stop and Best Buy for their commitment to abide by their corporate age restriction policies, the other retailers should be ashamed and must act immediately to improve.

Winter also used the report as a platform to support new legislation introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). The bill targets video game ratings. GamePolitics coverage of the bill is upcoming.

Here is the data on various retailers as issued by the PTC (updated, as Blockbuster was left off of their original version):

 

M-RATED VIDEO GAMES
PTC Results (July 2008)
CHAIN
# of Stores
% Able to Purchase
Game Stop
12
8%
Wal-Mart
13
38%
Best Buy
12
8%
Toys “R” Us
5
40%
Blockbuster
11
36%
Target
17
41%
Kmart
4
50%
Circuit City
10
60%
Hollywood Video
2
50%
Various Local & Regional Stores
15
47%


 


Comments

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

IMO it would depend on the kids in question. Personally, I really don't see a problem with the vast majority of aged 14+ high school teenagers playing "M" rated video games. On the other hand though an 8 year old young child probably should not be playing games like Manhunt or the GTA series.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Because its easy to see that some games are simply not meant for kids. Sure, its the parents responsibility to pay attention to what their kids are doing, but at the same time its always a good move to actually try and help parents do that voluntarily.

As an example, there's absolutely nothing dangerous about watching R or NC-17 rated movies, but I'll bet you won't see too many 12 year olds buying tickets for one themselves because they'll be stopped by any employee with a brain. I can guarantee you that if movie theaters always let kids into those movies there would be a pretty big uproar about it and legislators would start drafting bills to make it governmentally regulated as well. So long as we stick to, and enforce, a voluntary system there isn't a leg for legislators to stand on when it comes to trying to regulate sales. If we didn't have that voluntary system, they could just shout that the industry doesn't care and it will make their "for the children" argument even stronger. And the stronger that "for the children" argument is, the less likely that it will get struck down and unconstitutional. Just look at porn. Its not harmful either and should be protected by free speech, but its governmentally regulated because they had a strong "for the children" argument to base their laws on.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Well written.  I know most of us HERE see through the "For the children" thing.  It's so sad that people are willing to lay down their liberties to this quote made so many times by politicians.  Same with the word "terrorist".  If they could squeeze that in there somewhere I bet they would do that as well.  Ha...I can see it now "Al Queda is now terrorizing our country by selling M rated games to kids"  OH MY GOD! NOOOOO!!!  Please big brother! Regulate me more!

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Circut city is slowly going down hill. They fired most of their higher paid sales people who were actually competent, and its been downhill from there.

Best buy is kicking their ass across the board.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Did the study cover R rated movies?
Probably not.

Thank you smart people!
You are saving us all with your Parental Controls.
Speaking of.. Video game consoles have those. Term them on parents.  That is something your DVD player probably doesnt have.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

Actually DVD players do have parental controls, the exact same as the game consoles.  Where do you think they took the idea from?  They had to integrate the parental controls into the PS2 & Xbox due to DVD playback ability.

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

I'm a little uncomfortable with starting the, "It's okay for us to do this because everyone else is screwing up worse," argument.  Regardless of how poorly other industries enforce their rules, it begins to sound like finger-pointing and deflection to say we should only rise to the level of other people's incompetence.

Let's focus on the offending retailers and get them to stop giving jerks like this so much ammunition in the first place (using legal, constitutional methods that is).

Re: PTC Spanks Game Industry, Praises GameStop, Best Buy in

But majority of their outrage stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you'll find they don't think any books should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they'll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless... yeah.

The entire arguement is based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can't figure out the controls for Halo so it's frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it's in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child's life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can't be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It's too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

Therein lies the problem at it's core.  These reports shouldn't MAKE news, the ESRB adherence shouldn't be a hot topic.  Parents should be parents.

 
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Andrew EisenOoo, this one came down to the wire! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/749082525/nefarious09/19/2014 - 1:03am
Andrew EisenI don't doubt that many are truly interested in journalistic integrity. The problem I'm often seeing is they seem to have no idea how or where to talk about it.09/18/2014 - 11:46pm
Andrew EisenDidn't word that well. Busy at work. I've seen people claim that GamerGate is solely about ethics and transparency in games journalism and then go on to show that what they're really after is silencing those who talk about gender issues in games.09/18/2014 - 11:45pm
Kronodebate. Becaus apparently people who only post on Reddit are supposed to police twitter before they're allowed to question anything about the people involved.09/18/2014 - 10:40pm
KronoI highly doubt many, if any are using journalistic integrity as a cover for harassment. The people harassing are essentially trolls. They aren't interested in subtle. More often it's othe other way around. People use "but X is being harassed" to shut down09/18/2014 - 10:38pm
Andrew EisenAnd exacerbating everything is the fact that all the cries of ethics violations have been obnoxious and easily proven false.09/18/2014 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenProblem is, I would imagine, the sheer number of people who are using journalistic integrity as a cover for their harassing actions or only bringing it up on the false pretense of journalistic integrity.09/18/2014 - 8:47pm
Andrew EisenHaving said that, I can certainly see how one would be frustrated if they truly just wanted to talk about journalistic integrity and someone said they were one of the people harassing Sarkeesian, Quinn and others (though I've seen no examples of that).09/18/2014 - 8:44pm
KronoThat's been the common refrain, that talk of journalism ethics is just an excuse to harass people.09/18/2014 - 8:44pm
KronoLines like "like a partial compromise with the howling trolls who’ve latched onto ‘ethics’ as the latest flag in their onslaught against evolution and inclusion." are taring everyone questioning the ethics as a harasser.09/18/2014 - 8:43pm
Andrew EisenKrono - Except, none of the articles were talking about gamers complaining about journalist ethics, let alone called them white male misogynists. They were talking about the gamers who were harassing others.09/18/2014 - 8:36pm
Kronomakes plenty of sense. It's rather hard to dismiss someone as a white guy running a sock puppet when they've posted proof they're a woman, or black, or another minority.09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
Kronothat any critics of journalists were white guys that hated women, and could be dismissed as such. It seems to have helped some. It's kind of difficult to maintain the white guy narrative in the face of a bunch of women and non-white guys. So the tag09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
Kronothat, someone vented on a #gamergate 4chan thread about being dismissed like that. The suggestion they got in return was to organize their own hashtag in response, with #NotYourShield being suggested. Thus the tag came into use to combat the undercurrent09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
Kronomuch more general problem. And while several of the articles were fairly tame, they spured a bunch of people to dismiss any critics of the journalism involved as misogynistic men. Usually with insults aimed at the geek stereotype. After about a week of09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - Not sure what that has to do with anything but yeah, the gender percentages differ depending on how the study defines what a gamer is.09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
KronoThe rhetoric pushed by the spearheading articles that the "gamers" complaining about journalist ethics were just angry white male misogynists, insulted a lot of people that were previously fairly neutral. It made it go from a Kotaku problem, to a09/18/2014 - 8:31pm
Krono@Andrew I'm not surprised overlap exists. I expect much of it is a rush to jump on the bandwagon, either by reporting on the original articles, or rushing out their own. The point is that was a major flashpoint, much bigger than the reddit mass deletion.09/18/2014 - 8:31pm
Sleaker@AE - well the gamer trend was described with stats on Factual Femenist. Only 1 in 7 males plays games 20+ hrs going into college vs 1 in 40 females. So gaming is definitely still male dominated despite fake stats trying to say otherwise.09/18/2014 - 8:30pm
Craig R.Do conspiracies ever make sense? The fact that people are now having to defend themselves against nutjob websites like Breitbart.com shows how far down into the rabbit hole we've all been forcibly dragged.09/18/2014 - 7:05pm
 

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