Video Game Age Ratings in Online Retail: Legal Requirements for Merchants

Written on 15 Aug 2019

Video Game Age Ratings in Online Retail: Legal Requirements for Merchants

We sometimes get asked about requirements to display age ratings, implement age gating systems and/or use special forms of shipping for mature content when selling boxed video games online in various European jurisdictions.

For an overview of the applicable ratings system and requirements for merchants, look no further than our cheat sheet below!

 

  Belgium France Germany Netherlands Spain Sweden UK
Age rating system PEGI (not mandatory but common practice) PEGI USK PEGI PEGI PEGI PEGI
Obligation to display rating in online store Considered best practice Yes, including PEGI content descriptors Yes Considered best practice Considered best practice Considered best practice Yes
Restrictions on advertising / access to online store No Recommended to separate PEGI 18 games from other games on the website. If content is unrated and deemed “harmful”, sophisticated age gate including face to face identification is required.

Games that are detrimental to minors under 16 may not be offered or displayed, but the law contains no specifics on age verification or age gating.

It is common practice to exclude access of under 16s in terms and conditions, or asking users to confirm they are over 16.

No

Illegal to distribute, and/or retail games that display sexual or brutal violence.

No major restrictions on advertising.

No restrictions on access to online store.

No
Restrictions on checkout process Common practice to request user to confirm age in registration or checkout flow. Considered best practice to ask user to confirm their age.

Games without rating that are considered “harmful” may not be ordered without sophisticated age gate. Unclear whether this also applies for physical USK 18 games.

To purchase digital downloads of any USK rated game, time restriction (availability only after 10 or 11 PM) is sufficient.

Common practice to request user to confirm age in registration or checkout flow. No No

Obligation to conduct due diligence to prevent sales to children that are too young for the game.

“I am over 18” button likely not sufficient.

Restrictions on making digital copy available No restrictions beyond the general restriction described above. No Time restriction (availability only after 10 or 11 PM) is sufficient. No restrictions beyond the general restriction described above. No No No restrictions beyond the “due diligence” requirement described above.
Restrictions on shipping physical games No restrictions beyond the general restriction described above. No USK 18 games and “harmful” games must be shipped using special shipping options where delivery person checks recipient’s ID No restrictions beyond the general restriction described above. No No Having age verified at delivery is likely sufficient “due diligence” in the context of the checkout process.