# Various "age" rating systems- do i need them to release a game...?

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Hello

If i want to release a game - mainly on steam (not sure about retail), lets say a smaller project, PC (for starters), point and click adventure for example. My understanding, from interview i read with one dev, is that i NEED the approval of various "age rating" agencies like - ESRB, PEGI, USK (germany) and the australian one... (there are others aswell). My understanding is that although its "not written in any laws or agreements (not even on steam?)" you NEED (!) to get these ratings in order to effectivelly release the game. Meaning that if you dont get them, steam (and/or) even retailers etc. wont talk to you or will "play deaf"... so getting these ratings is a NECESSITY to release your game- which means additional cost for a smaller studio. My questions:

1) Is this really true...? Steam will not publish my game if i dont have the ratings? What about other platforms (epic store etc.) or retailers...? (we would not have any publishers BTW probably)
2) What organizations do i need to get the ratings from- which are the most essential in regards to the potential revenue from their regions/countries? ESRB for sure, PEGI for sure. These two are main and neccesary practicall for all games since they cover the majority of regions from which majority of revenue country/region wise is generated, overall for most PC games, correct? Then in additional since it would be a point and click adventure we would need to get the approval of the german USK organization? Since point and clicks sell a lot in germany. But doesnt germany accept PEGI ...? Why the heck do they need special organization only for their country?
2a) What about Russia - i read they have their own rating organization, but they accept (still?) PEGI ratings aswell so i do NOT need to pay additional cost for Russian rating only and use the PEGI one...?
2b) What about Australia... They have their own rating system but does australia generate a lot of revenue for PC games and point and clicks especially (smaller indie  projects) to justify the even additional cost...? Australia doesnt accept PEGI or ESRB?

3) Im confused about trailers and maybe additional things about the game - Do i need to get approved even the trailers for the game...(!?).. What if i dont... steam again wont allow me post these trailers on their website... Do i need it even if i have a trailer normally on youtube?

Thank you

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Game ratings are not enforced by most of countries - although when you break their laws, they will simply ban your game. Beware though here - certain topics can get you even jailed (even in Europe - like cheering and propagating national socialism (or other totalitarian regimes that killed millions), especially in Germany, will get you into problems ... on the other hand, when you are trying to make historically accurate game about that specific era, there won't be any problems).

Russia, South Korea and Brazil do require each game to have rating from one of the agencies approved by their government. Taiwan requires you to self determine age rating. India has their own national rating company (they don't rate games usually, mostly movies - but they can ban your game). And so on...

This being said, some distribution platforms require you to have game rated from specific organization (I believe ESRB and/or PEGI for most of them is enough). If I'm not mistaken ESRB costs were around $4000 for titles where development cost was higher that$250k and \$800 for the ones that cost below.

As for Steam I don't think they require PEGI or ESRB ratings, they definitely do require you to state whether your game has sexual content, or violence (among other things) - which will limit its visibility based on the age on specific Steam account (to anyone who recently released game on Steam - correct me if I'm wrong and something has changed since).

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An unrated game in Germany is automatically 18+ and selling (or making available!) games that are for adults to minors carries heavy fines.

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Posted (edited)

My games are on steam and have sold in Brazil/Russia with no rating. Not sure about South Korea I'll check when I get home.

Edited by conquestor3

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Games are sold digitally – as a download may be rated using a process implemented by IARC (globalratings.com)

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