Albuquerque, NM, November 25, 2008 — With the release of their adult video game, BoneTown, D-Dub Software has also launched a new industry. The Adult Video Game Industry is an answer to worldwide video game ratings boards, whose rating systems have banned adult games from the market. It is also a response to the maturing video game world, whose average consumer is now 33 years old but is still forced to play games aimed at someone much younger.
The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) is the United States’ video game ratings system. Their website touts their ratings as meant to help “…consumers, especially parents…make informed purchase decisions about the games they deem suitable for their children and families.” Far from being a tool to inform consumers, however, the ratings can limit consumers’ ability to learn about and purchase certain games. This holds specifically true for games that get the system’s dreaded AO (Adults Only, for ages 18+) rating, which BoneTown would have received had it been rated.
Major retailers in the United States only sell video games that are rated M (Mature, for ages 17+) or lower by the ESRB. All video game consoles, such as Nintendo, X-Box, and PlayStation, refuse to allow AO rated games, and many video game review outlets will not deal with AO titles. Though only 25% of all gamers in the United States are under age 18, indicating that there is a huge market for adult games, the ESRB’s restrictions have led many games to remove content to get an M rating. It also has some wondering why an AO rating exists if it essentially constitutes a ban in the US and elsewhere around the world, because unlike with other “adult” products, there are no established channels for adult video games to get out to their target demographic.
D-Dub Software knew that BoneTown would be rated AO because of its intense sexual and drug related content, and so did not get the game rated by the ESRB. “It doesn’t make sense,” says Hod, CEO of D-Dub
Software. “The ratings boards are not telling us that these games aren’t for kids. We know that already. What they’re telling us is that adult games shouldn’t exist at all. We don’t agree, and neither does our customer base of adults who are interested in games that might include themes like sex, drugs, and language. Since they’ve made it so that games like ours can’t be marketed and distributed through the channels other video games use, we are starting a new industry to get this game out to our customers.”
While D-Dub agrees that they game is not appropriate for anyone under 18, they have no intention of removing their “adult” content and so are finding ways around the ESRB’s ban. This is made possible in part by the recent rise of digital distribution of video games, because games sold online do not have to be ESRB rated. BoneTown is currently being sold online to customers over 18 at http://www.bonetown.com in a box version ($49.99) and a digital download version ($39.99). The game is also available in adult stores worldwide.