This new bill, known as H.R.287, or the “Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act,” attempts to do not one, not two, but three things: 1) to make unlawful the act of renting or selling any video game not rated, 2) to ban sales of video games rated Mature/Adults Only to anyone under the age of 17/18, respectively, and 3) to fine anyone $5,000 for noncompliance of the first two provisions. More specifically looking into the first provision, retailers must clearly display information about the ratings system.
Not looking at the second and third provisions, it actually makes sense to mandate all games to be rated. However, based on the industry’s current architecture, there is already support for that, save for indie games that might be released on Steam, as well as other PC or Mac distribution platforms. Those games might not necessarily seek ESRB evaluation, but if you want to make a game for any console, your game must have an ESRB rating. If not, then Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft will simply refuse licensing.
Going back to those other two provisions, they sound eerily familiar to what the Supreme Court already ruled as unconstitutional in June 2011. History has a tendency to repeat itself every once in a while, so the chances of this bill actually making it somewhere are slim to none.