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ESRB Ratings Alternative PSVratings Shuts Down

ESRB Ratings Alternative PSVratings Shuts Down

September 11, 2006 | By Jason Dobson

September 11, 2006 | By Jason Dobson
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PSVratings, a private firm that sought to compete with the industry-standard Electronic Software Ratings Board, has confirmed that it has closed down and dissolved its ratings system, which was based on specific ratings for profanity, sex, and violence.

According to a Gamepolitics.com report, the organization was shut down following “a fraud investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).” In addition, an email sent to the website by CEO David Kinney wrote: "PSVratings laid off all employees and suspended operations on May 30, 2006. We are fully cooperating with the SEC in their investigation. We are in the process of recapitalizing and I remain active in ensuring that we maintain our leadership position in the independent ratings industry."

First announced in 2004, PSVratings attempted to offer a different approach than that of the ESRB, and indeed all media ratings boards, deemphasizing simple age-appropriate classification in favor of listing all of the potentially objectionable material in a game. The universal rating system utilized a classification scheme of its own in addition to the verbal descriptors: the level of violent, profane, and sexual content in each game was separately color-coded according to green (low), yellow (medium), or red (high) amounts of each.

While the now defunct ratings system never enjoyed success at the retail level, it was utilized by the organization's Family Media Guide, a subscription-based website that produces what it considers "objective ratings" of video games, movies, and other media. In November 2005, the website identified "2005's Top 10 Ultra-Violent Video Games," which, based on the PSVratings system, singled out Resident Evil 4, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and God of War as some of the games parents should be mindful of on their children's gift lists.


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