WET developer Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M) has revealed that some studios try and cheat their way to a lower, more profitable ESRB age-rating by submitting misleading videos of games.
"As a developer who has worked with a lot of different publishers, we're aware of many that have tried to cheat the rating," said Rémi Racine in a panel at the Montreal International Game Summit, reported by Edge Online.
"They say to the ERSB that it's a Teen rating [13+] rather than Mature [17+] to try and sell more; you can do this just by sending them a video that doesn't show the most violent stuff and then you'll get the rating that you want rather than the rating you should get."
The ESRB responded by claiming it couldn't be hoodwinked so easily.
"ESRB takes full disclosure of content during the rating process extremely seriously, and companies that submit their games to ESRB know this very well. We regularly check games post-release to verify that submissions were complete, and it's very likely that if a game contains undisclosed content that would have affected the rating assigned, we'll find out about it," said ESRB spokesperson Eliot Mizrachi.
"In such cases ESRB can actually impose fines up to $1m as well as require corrective actions like re-labeling or even recalling product, both of which can obviously be very costly. There's no incentive whatsoever for publishers to withhold content from ESRB in an effort to receive a lower rating, and those that would do so risk significant penalties."
The ESRB, unlike the BBFC and soon PEGI in the UK, offers a purely voluntary rating to stamp on games.