The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on all corners and sectors of the world, including the video games industry. Most recently, we heard about the temporary suspension of Japanese age ratings board CERO until the beginning of May, which will inevitably have an impact on releases of games in the region. However, its European and North American counterparts – PEGI and ESRB respectively – seem to have taken necessary steps well in advance to ensure that they don’t face similar disruptions.
Speaking to IGN, the ESRB said in a statement that due to “a good deal of advanced planning,” they have been working remotely for almost a month now, and as such, haven’t had to delay reviews for age ratings of games in spite of all the disruptions.
“Thanks to a good deal of advance planning, since March 16 ESRB has been operating remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” an ESRB spokesperson said. “We have seen no delay in assigning ratings. We will continue to assign ratings remotely for as long as required.”
European board PEGI also provided a statement to IGN, and said similar things, ensuring that it has been working remotely for a while now, and given how it operates even on an ordinary basis, it won’t be hit by any delays.
“In short: yes, we are currently working remotely with minimal impact on our operations,” a PEGI spokesperson said. “When this situation started to unfold across Europe a couple of weeks ago, we quickly found a way to continue our daily operations by working remotely. Given that PEGI (in Brussels) works with two independent administrators that are located in The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and they deal with publishers all over the world that we do not have to meet in person, cooperating remotely has always been part of our daily routine. But now it happens from homes instead of different offices.
“We informed the companies using the PEGI system that, until local authorities announce a change to the current measures, we will be working like this. But until now, the impact of the pandemic and the resulting measures has been minimal.”
Given that getting age ratings is a crucial part of the launch process for every single video game release, it should come as a relief to publishers, developers, and consumers that two big markets in Europe and North America won’t be bit by delays at least in this area. As for Japan, CERO has closed its doors until May 6. We’ll keep you updated on new developments as and when they come our way, so stay tuned.