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Are Mature-Rated Games Usually The Most Popular?

This theory may be far off base, but forgive me if I let my mostly useless Psychology degree play a small role in this article.

Some will say that Mature-rated games fare better than "T" or "E"-rated titles, but for the most part, it only depends on the time of year and the popular franchises that recently enjoyed a fresh installment on the market. If you look at the past year, you can look at the likes of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Gears of War 2, Killzone 2, Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5, etc., and those are all "M"-rated. But at the same time, LittleBigPlanet swept away the competition at this year's AIAS Awards and has managed to sell quite well over time. So is there any basis to the philosophy - usually put forth by anti-gaming activists - that the Mature games sell better? We can always say that controversial or "edgy" entertainment of any kind will boost revenue - ranging from Manhunt to "Hostel" to Marilyn Manson - but we're really only talking about the role of standard "M"-rated games, which are equivalent to "R"-rated films. So what's the deal?

Well, perhaps there is something to this, and it's primarily due to the age demographic. The gaming industry targets the 12-35 crowd and if you want to get more specific, that can get boiled down to the 16-25 group. Now, let's face it: there are many individuals in that demographic that will flock to the "M"-rated game, if only because younger individuals tend to be found indulging in more adult-oriented content (what was the average age of the "Saw" viewer in the theaters? Any senior citizens in there?), and furthermore, for the young young gamers, it's taboo...which is always appealing. For the record, I most definitely support the ESRB and I don't condone the sale of "M"-rated games to minors. But the bottom line is that based on the target audience, it seems almost logical to assume that the games with adult content will fare better. Oh, and there's one other thing: the "machismo"/lack of self-esteem/struggling self-image issue.

In other words, many 18-year-old guys might scoff at LittleBigPlanet because it's just too "cutesy." And hey, guys aren't supposed to play "cute;" they're supposed to play the hard-assed stuff, regardless of how good the game may be. Too many men can't seem to push past this until they get older, and oh yeah, the majority of avid gamers in the world are still male. See what I'm getting at? The more we examine the situation from a sociological and psychological viewpoint, the more this theory appears plausible. What do you think?

4/22/2009 Ben Dutka

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Comments (43 posts)

Zemus101
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 10:56:59 PM
Reply

Well, I know that I find Mature rated games more appealing. Just like when I hear of a new movie coming to the theaters, if it's PG13 action movie, I know I probably won't enjoy it as much as a rated R of the same genre (The Dark Knight being a huge argument though)

For games, it really depends on the genre, I have LBP and although I don't play it much anymore (Can't get anyone to play my levels that I spent weeks making ><) but that is fitting for it's rating, where if Killzone had the same rating, I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much.

GTA wouldn't be GTA with a Teen rating :P


Last edited by Zemus101 on 4/22/2009 10:58:22 PM

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Sir Shak
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 10:59:53 PM

Which level have you made ? I'll give a try .

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iPwn_3G
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 3:33:46 PM

You nailed it

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dveisalive
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 11:00:30 PM
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To answer the question: Yes Mature rated games are the most popular cause most of them are shooters!

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inkme101
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 11:04:01 PM
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plus everyone likes cussin, blood, guts, and boobs!!!!! lol

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Sir Shak
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 11:12:46 PM

Killzoe 2 was the first game where I stopped every now and then to admire the blood effects .

+ 1 for boobs .

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SarahPalinMILF
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 5:43:52 AM

boobies!!!

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BTNwarrior
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 11:20:54 PM
Reply

Well considering most people hate censorship and putting a T rating on a game that has you killing people is censoring it than yes I would say that M rated games are the most popular, or at least my favorite.

and as an example, did anyone else think that Battlefield Bad Company could have been alot better if they went all the way and made it an M rated game?

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iPwn_3G
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 3:34:53 PM

No i thought it was pretty good as it was

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Sir Shak
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 11:36:34 PM
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How dare you call LBP cutesy ? Sackboy is a hardened killing machine .

Go to the forums and see the "LittleBigRevenge" thread in the PS3 section for the disturbing truth .

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a1_
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 11:46:24 PM
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the answer is yes... wtf.

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Zemus101
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 11:48:32 PM
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shak, I think you're on my friends list on psn :) if not, add me PSN Zemus101, then you should be able to check out my levels. :D I'll check yours out as well, and comment

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @ 11:51:03 PM
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It's like the "Explicit lyrics" lables on CD covers haha

Instead of deterring people from buying it, it attracts people to buy it.

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AntDC
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 10:28:46 PM

You got that right.

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Midris7
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:13:06 AM
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I don't know. Most of the industry seems to be interested in developing games that appeal to most people's senses. Just like most people like violent movies with a lot of swearing, sex, and most of all violence. But as previous posters said, there are exceptions for both movies and games. For example, LBP and The Dark Knight.


PSN: MorskiJX

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Xbox_Killer
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:49:30 AM
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I myself think M rated games are a lot better but the ones I really want are the adults only games. For example, Manhunt 2 was going to get a adults only rating but Sony, Xbox and Nintendo say they wont allow an adults only rating game for their system.

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Highlander
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:58:27 AM
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Mature is a word that means different things to different people.

Mature in the sense of game ratings tends to mean games that merit a mature rating generally speaking to high levels of violence and coarse language. Occasionally it's due to sexual themes, situations or languages.

However mature in most people's lexicon means something more akin to grown up, and frankly games that are heavy on violence, blood, gore, language and sex may be adult, but they are far from mature. Yet the two meanings are blended in most discussions. It is however a distinction I think has to be drawn.

I'm perfectly happy to admit I'm 43, and my favorite games of this generation so far are Soul Calibur 4, HotShots Golf out of bounds (Jasmine rules), Ratchet and Clank, Uncharted and Burnout Paradise. That's sexy, cutesie, cartoon, action and racing. Even uncharted rates only a T rating, and frankly anyone who thinks that Soul Calibur rates anything more than T needs their head examined. I don't enjoy FPS games as much as I did when I was younger and funnily enough - less mature. I cn still lose myself in a little mindless blasting in something like Doom, but compared to todays M rated games, Doom is positively cartoony.

Do people buy M rated games for the rating? You betcha, especially - as pointed out - those too young to do so openly. Does including tons of violence, blood and gore, swearing and gratuitous sex make something mature, or does it qualify it as 'adult entertainment'?

As a mature gamer I find I increasingly want games that avoid the harsh, drab, dreary violent wastelands in favor of something entirely more entertaining and fun.

Last edited by Highlander on 4/23/2009 12:59:01 AM

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KevinCairo
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 1:55:50 AM
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I literally just got done writing a paper on violent video games and how they don't actually affect behavior.
According to a study, in general gamers aren't specifically attracted to violence in video games, so I would say for that reason mature games are not NECESSARILY the most popular -- since most of the time, mature rated games are rated so because of violence.
I think a lot of the big games that have been coming out recently have just happened to be mature, but most of my favorite games I've played weren't rated M.

But maybe I'm not making a clear enough distinction between quality and popularity.

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AntDC
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 10:31:09 PM

Yeah you make a good point, although I do think that mature rated games are more appealing to the male demographic, though this doesn't necassarily mean that it INFLUENCES them.

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Naga
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 2:08:36 AM
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depends on what kind of game it is with probably a well known title I guess

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faraga
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 3:04:49 AM
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in europe we have PEGI, with the ratings 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+ and 18+ (in therms of age off course)

GTAIV is 18+ and i loved it
NFS underground 2 is 3+ and i loved it
midnight club LA is 12+ an i loved it

there are good games with every rating, but most people like "violent" games a lot and that's how those games become more populair

Last edited by faraga on 4/23/2009 3:05:21 AM

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Vivi_Gamer
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 3:09:52 AM
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Yes, because our youth is bitter!

Though pretty much evey game has a form of violence nowadays from crash bandicoot to GTA. i dont think it really bothers me in all honesty.

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raidtimedope
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 5:38:18 AM
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ofcourse mature rated games are better thats why their more popular,

simple as that.


and besides personally i dont look at the rating to buy a game, i want quality.

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Riku994
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 6:12:04 AM
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1: Welcome back Ben.

2: I do think they sell better cuz most gamers are older and want a game that appeals to their age group, and most parents dont care what their kids play, I'm astonished at the amount of 6 year olds playing Halo, but that also boosts the sales. Don't get me wrong the likes of Kingdom Hearts and Sonic will always remain at the top in my heart but Mature games do seem to appeal more to me.

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cowboy828
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 6:59:02 AM
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yes M sells great but good games sell greater

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crawdaddy
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 7:18:50 AM
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I don't think that the M on the box sells the game. The game sells the game because it is a good game. I just happens that the rating people rate the good games with a M because they are usually more realistic with blood, killing, and language they deem for mature people.

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The Stig
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 7:25:56 AM
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The rating makes absolutley no difference to me, most of the time I don't even take notice of it.

But I can see how M rated games appeal to the younger crowd, playing something that maybe they shouldn't.

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556pineapple
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 9:02:41 AM
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I usually buy a game I know I'll like or I've heard good things about. I don't even think about ratings. Taking my ps3 games (counting the orange box as 5 separate games) I have 10 M rated titles, 5 T rated titles, and 1 E rated title. I think the whole "taboo" thing applies for younger gamers though. I guess when I was in my teens, I payed attention to the game ratings more and thought it was cooler to play M rated games (GTA III rocked!), but now that I'm in my 20s, it just doesn't matter anymore. A good game is a good game, regardless of ratings.

Oh, and welcome back, Ben.

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JPBooch
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 9:55:15 AM
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The thing that annoys me is the gratuitous cursing in games. I really don't need a game to drop an f bomb for the sake of it. At this point every time I hear it, it is just forced in and completely unnecessary. Even that Watchmen garbage had f bombs dropped. Do you really have to curse in a game just because there is blood and guts?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 10:08:16 AM
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Comes down to realism and the fact that many games include violence as a matter of course. If I shoot a guy and some blue liquid comes out, well that isn't very realistic. While games themselves are far from being super realistic, we do like them to be accurate in some of the simpler things like blood and the fact that when you are in a stressful situation your guy is more likely to swear than say "Gosh darnit!"

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Highlander
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:25:28 PM

Gosh darn? since when did that replace an F-bomb? T rated games are allowed a fair amount of latitude with language, but F-bombs are kind of the limit just as they are for R-rated movies. You are unlikely to get less than an R-rating with a movie that has F-bombs.

There's nothing inherently realistic in gratuitous swearing, it's actually very lazy use of language as there are always other words and phrases that can be used for similar effects.

As for the blood/gore thing. It's perhaps realistic to have enemies exploding in a spray of blood and entrails when they are hit by some of the imaginary and not so imaginary weaponry in games. However how many people in their real lives casually mow down dozens or hundreds of enemies?

I'll say this, games like UT3, KZ2, Resistance and the like could all benefit from having a couple of option sliders, one to alter the amount of blood/gore and the other to alter the language used. Many of these action games that get given M ratings could qualify for T ratings simply by toning down the language and blood. I know there is at least one game listed above I would buy if it provided an option to tone the language down and decrease the blood spattering to a minimal amount.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:36:13 PM

I never said that was a replacement, I was just making a point. And I agree in a game like Killzone 2 the swearing was overused and hackey, but sometimes the situation just calls for it. And if you read where I said games aren't essentially based in reality then you'll see why I would never go so far as to say we all mow down bad guys in our daily lives. But in situations like Fallout 3 where the devs actually studied bodies of dead car crash victims, you can see where the hope of bringing realism into the game, however violent and even alongside some absurdity, helps to make it enjoyable.

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BTNwarrior
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 2:08:03 PM

I have to agree with you that there are just some times where it is much more natural for people to swear, yet it gets edited down. Like in the movie Cloverfield, If a giant monster was tearing apart your city you wouldn't be sayin Oh my god Oh my god, you would be sayin Oh F***, or Holy F***** S***

Last edited by BTNwarrior on 4/23/2009 2:08:23 PM

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firehahahahaha
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 10:34:29 AM
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I honestly never look at the ratings when I buy or play a game, and same goes with movies. If it's fun it's fun, that's all I care about.

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Robochic
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 11:24:00 AM
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I never really look at ratings as well, i'm of age to buy anything as long as it's a good game, has good ratings, and is fun to play i'm on board. The only time i look at ratings is for when i purchase for my 4 year old but most ds and Wii cames are E for everyone.

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Vivi_Gamer
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 11:26:22 AM
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I'm sure if GoWIII gets a 15+ - Teen certifcate you'd notice.

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shaydey77
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 11:40:20 AM
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Hi. 18 year old guy here. Happy to play ANY decent game from Grid to uncharted to cod4 to..omg would you believe it..LBP!!!

One of my dads friends that was in the army stayed over recently and saw me playing LBP...he laughed and said what kind of man are you??...


Three and a half hours later he was hooked..

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Skatejimmy5
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:14:44 PM
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I'm 17, and I'll play most anything. LittleBigPlanet, GTA, Call of Duty, Skate 2, Bejeweled, FEAR, Guitar Hero etc etc.

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CH1N00K
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:20:25 PM
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How much does marketing have to do with it? Do the video game companies spend more marketing mature games or the "cutesy" ones? Except for Nintendo (who is 90% cutesy) how many ads have you seen in the last year that were for games that aren't mature rated? Although I guess that really only leaves Xbox 360 ads, because Sony doesn't advertise :P

I don't watch TV that much but the ads that come to my mind that I saw the most of were Killzone 2, Resistance, Gears of War. I've heard people say that there were little big planet ones, but I've never seen one that I can remember.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:38:22 PM

LBP had the honor of having advertising that totally sidestepped what it was about and why you should play it.

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tlpn99
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 1:56:06 PM
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I dont care about the rating on a game as long as its good. I love cutesy platformers I grew up on them. Bubbble Bobble come on you cant get any cuter than 2 bubble blowing popping dinos lol.

Ok Sackboy is kinda cute today too. Crash is another one I like also. Spryo another cute character but never really got into the Spryo games.

If a game is an 18 I think yeah some blood and gore maybe some swearing too but if a game is a cute platformer puzzle type I'll glady go out and buy it long as it will keep me entertained for ages.

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BeezleDrop
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 3:20:44 PM
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It depends on the game, if it's to be mature or teen, in most cases it works out just fine with what the ESRB chooses.

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Bugzbunny109
Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 4:08:26 PM
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Just by seeing the copious amount of news articles, I knew Ben was back.

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