I don't know much about why the games are rated in the first place, aside from the fact that it may help customers to filter out the games that aren't appropriate for them due to age or personal preferences.

Are there any other benefits to completing the rating procedure of a game?

I wonder if it is required at all to have your game rated by a local rating board. And what about countries that don't have their own game rating boards?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/1789/… And related: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/44466/… \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56 it appears the person who asked the first linked question already knows what it's for, as opposed to me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 1:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK. Then they're just related. \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I asked the wrong question initially, now I edited it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 1:32

1 Answer 1


Looking at the ESRB FAQ, you can see some answers to your questions:

Are all games and apps required to have a rating?

The rating system is voluntary, although virtually all video games that are sold at retail in the U.S. and Canada are rated by the ESRB. Many U.S. retailers, including most major chains, have policies to only stock or sell games that carry an ESRB rating, and console manufacturers require games that are published on their systems in the U.S. and Canada to be rated by ESRB.

The ESRB system has been voluntarily adopted by several mobile app storefronts in the U.S. as well, and complete rating information for all ESRB-rated apps is available by searching the ESRB website. While certain types of apps may be exempt from ratings, participating storefronts typically require that non-exempt apps receive an ESRB rating.

In short, if you want to release your game in retail form, and in some cases in digital form to some specific sites, you'll need to have ESRB rating for the retailers to consider your game for sale.

It's made clear that the system is voluntary. It's not required to sell your game, but it may be required by specific retailers to carry your game.

Not getting ESRB rating limits your options for selling your game, but doesn't restrict you from doing so entirely.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget Australia. They probably have one of the strictest rating systems in the world, in part because it is government regulated. ESRB may be voluntary, but it's definitely not the case elsewhere. Exceeding a rating threshold in some countries (e.g. Australia) pretty much means your game will not sell there at all without alteration. In years past publishers who could not meet the requirements for Australia might opt to ignore the country altogether, but it seems they are more willing to work with them these days - Saint's Row IV is a notable recent example. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 1:54
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Germany is another country where any games must be rated by the USK (Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle - entertainment software self-control). Any game not rated by the USK is automatically treated as adults-only and must not be advertised in public or sold to people who didn't prove their age to the seller. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 15:23

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