What is…Getting Ratings Like?

February 24, 2020

As promised in our recent Development Roadmap, today we’ll be talking about what the process is like to get ratings for a video game.  If you want to release a game on any console (Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft) it has to be rated by the appropriate local rating boards.

Rating boards are largely self-regulating agencies which ensure all video games have easy to understand labels that can quickly explain content anyone looking to buy a game may wish to be on the lookout for.  They also recommend general age appropriate content guidelines for games.  For example, in most of Europe, PEGI is the rating board gamers will be most familiar with, though some countries like Germany have their own specific ratings, in this case USK.

In North America most players are familiar with ESRB.  Just like PEGI, their primary role is to inform consumers of what they’re getting.  To be rated, game developers need to submit questionnaires to each board, detailing any part of their game that may need a ratings warning.  In Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, there’s use of strong language, violence, alcohol and drugs references, simulated gambling, comic mischief, and crude humour…along with some other things we may not be immediately thinking of.  Generally, we’ll be asked to describe “how bad” each of these things are, along with providing some visuals like screenshots and videos of anything that might help qualify what the final rating will be.

From there, we wait.  Each board has their own decision process — for example, PEGI divides games into two categories and we’ll fall under the purview of PEGI 12/16/18 rating members, while for ESRB games there’s no strict division of work.  No process is better or worse, just different!  Because we need to provide samples on each console we’d like to rate, we need to wait for each version of the game to be done to get all our final ratings; while some boards like PEGI provide provisional ratings prior to a game being completed, not every rating board does.

If a game is being released only digitally, the process is a little more streamlined.  The good news we wanna pass along today: we’ve submitted for our ratings, yay!  Based on past experiences, we’re anticipating an “M” rating from the ESRB and a “PEGI 16” for Europe, but we won’t know for sure until we hear back from each.

We hope you’ve learned a little bit more about the behind the scenes of video games.  Questions about Rebel Galaxy Outlaw?  Don’t hesitate to drop by our Discord and head to the #ask-a-dev channel!