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Gambling in your game will now automatically land it a PEGI-18 rating

PEGI will now automatically issue an 18+ rating for any title that features simulated gambling.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

September 1, 2021

2 Min Read
A top-down photo of a Blackjack table. A man holds cards in the foreground while a woman deals the next hand.
Photo by Aidan Howe via Unsplash

Pan-European rating board PEGI, which was established under Belgian law and operates throughout most of Europe, will now automatically issue a PEGI-18 rating for new games that feature simulated gambling.

This change apparently went into effect in 2020, but was noticed yesterday by AskAboutGames editor Andy Robinson while reviewing the rating for inkle’s latest interactive story game Overboard. Overboard is a reverse murder-mystery simulator where the player attempts to get away with murder on a cruise ship.

The game does feature mild violence, suggestively sexual themes, and depiction of alcohol use. But a scene where you can play Blackjack with another character caused the ratings board to apply a PEGI-18 rating to the game.

A PEGI spokesperson clarified to Game Developer that the new policy only impacts new games, and will not apply to rereleased games that previously only earned a lower PEGI rating.

As an example, the spokesperson said that if older Pokémon games were to be re-issued (without any substantial changes that would lead the board to classify it as a new game), they would retain their PEGI-12 ratings even though they feature slot machines and other kinds of simulated gambling.

“When we implemented the criterion change in the first part of 2020, we made the conscious decision not to apply the change retroactively,” the spokesperson said. “We wanted to avoid that the exact same game can be found in a shop for two different consoles with two different age ratings.”

This change comes as regulators across the globe have begun to take a closer look to gambling-adjacent mechanics (like loot boxes) in games that might be played by minors. A recent U.K study did find a correlation between the use of systems like loot boxes and “problem gambling.”

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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