TIGA, the trade association which represents the UK video game industry, has increased the pressure on PEGI, the European game content rating system, to change its pricing policy.
Last month (April 2014), TIGA wrote an open letter to PEGI urging it to reconsider the way it charges games developers for rating the content of new releases. At present, developers must pay PEGI a content rating fee every time they release a game on a different console platform. This fee is payable even if the content across the platforms is exactly the same.
PEGI will have three pricing tiers from 1 July 2014:
- Lowest tier: for online or downloadable games only which must be under 250mb. Charges: €260 per certification.
- Middle tier: for games larger than 250mb with a production budget of less than €200,000. Charges: €1,155 for certification and €1,050 for each additional platform.
- Highest tier: for games with a budget larger than €200,000. Charges: €2,100 for certification and €1,050 for each additional platform.
Under this system, smaller developers that are launching games larger than 250mb are subject to the same re-certification fee (€1,050) as a multi-national developer which is launching a blockbuster title.
To larger games development companies, these charges have less impact on costs and cash flow. But to the smaller or 'indie' developers, these repetitive charges could have a serious impact upon their cash flow. TIGA believes this charging system therefore has the ability to stifle innovation at grass roots level.
In the US, by contrast, games developers do not have to pay charges for rating identical content on multiple platforms.
IGA has suggested that a legally binding document could be introduced whereby developers warrant that game content is identical across the different platforms on which it wishes to release the game. This would negate the need for PEGI to undertake multiple content rating exercises.
TIGA has recently received a response from PEGI to its open letter. PEGI stated that the 'fee per platform' policy was not new and that there had only been one price rise in the last five years – but TIGA has stated that PEGI failed to address the key points.
IGA has now written to PEGI again, asking PEGI "to explain explicitly" why it cannot adopt the approach of developers signing a legally binding document which states that game content is the same across all platforms (rather than simply stating the same policy will continue to apply). We look forward to PEGI's response.