ESRB ratings are meant to guide consumers towards age-appropriate video game titles.
Although they generate plenty of dollars and discussions surrounding violent content, video games rated Mature make up a small percentage of titles reviewed by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
According to the ESRB, only 9% of ratings assigned to video games in 2012 were M for Mature, which is assigned to titles suggested for players 17 years old and up. It's the same percentage as last year, and a 4% upswing from 2010.
The dominant category once again were titles rated E for Everyone, at 45%. The percentage of E10+ ratings, for players 10 and up, handed out rose slightly to 22%, while Teen (13 and up) fell to 24%.
The ratings are based on physical and digital video games released for PCs, home consoles and handheld devices. The 1,218 ratings handed out last year do not take into account games on smartphones and tablets, determined by the CTIA Mobile Application Rating System with ESRB.
Despite making up a small slice of video games rated by the ESRB, Mature-rated titles still rank among the industry's best-selling experiences. According to 2012 sales data from NPD Group, five of last year's top 10 selling games in the U.S. were rated M for Mature.
Many Mature-rated titles have also generated discussions on violent content in video games, which resurfaced after a school shooting at a Conn. elementary school killed 20 children and six teachers.
Last month, a House bill was introduced that would apply stiffer penalties to retailers selling Mature or Adults Only rated video games to minors. Violators would face a $5,000 fine.
Separately, a state bill introduced in Missouri calls for a sales tax rated Teen or higher by the ESRB.
- by Brett Molina, USA TODAY