|Formation||9 April 2003|
|Purpose||Classification of video games|
|European Union, United Kingdom, Turkey, Israel, South Africa|
|Interactive Software Federation of Europe|
PEGI (// PEG-ee), short for Pan-European Game Information, is a European video game content rating system established to help European consumers make informed decisions when buying video games or apps through the use of age recommendations and content descriptors. It was developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) and came into use in April 2003, replacing many national age rating systems with a single European system. The PEGI system is now used in 41 countries and is based on a code of conduct, a set of rules to which every publisher using the PEGI system is contractually committed. PEGI self-regulation is composed by five age categories and nine content descriptors that advise the suitability of a game for a certain age range based on the game's content. The age rating is not intended to indicate the difficulty of the game or the skill required to play it.
PEGI has five age categories.
|The content of games with a PEGI 3 rating is considered suitable for all age groups. The game should not contain any sounds or pictures that are likely to frighten young children. A very mild form of violence (in a comical context or a childlike setting) is acceptable. No bad language should be heard.||2020 or older years|
|Game content with scenes or sounds that can possibly be frightening to younger children should fall in this category. Very mild forms of violence (implied, non-detailed, or non-realistic violence) are acceptable for a game with a PEGI 7 rating.||2016 or older years|
|Video games that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters would fall in this age category. Sexual innuendo or sexual posturing can be present, while any bad language in this category must be mild.||2011 or older years|
|This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. The use of bad language in games with a PEGI 16 rating can be more extreme, while the use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs can also be present.||2007 or older years|
|The 18 rating, which indicates content suitable only for adults, is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence, apparently motiveless killing, or violence towards defenceless characters. The glamorisation of the use of illegal drugs, explicit sexual activity, and gambling should also fall into this age category.||2005 or older years|
|In addition to age ratings, there is a special rating represented by an exclamation point labeled "Parental Guidance Recommended". These contents are available for all ages, but it is recommended that parents (mostly with children who are under the age of 18) supervise activities within the program.|
Black and white icons were used until June 2009, with new colour-coded icons: with green for 3 and 7, orange for 12 and 16, and red for 18. Plus signs were removed from the icons, and the background wallpaper now says "PEGI" as opposed to "ISFE". That design was slightly altered at the start of 2010, by removing the watermark and locking the URL bar underneath the age rating icon. Reprinted games from 2010 or before often still display the old designs.
|1 April 2003 – 11 June 2009||12 June 2009 – 28 May 2010||29 May 2010 – present|
In Portugal, two of the PEGI categories were originally aligned with the age ratings of the film classification system to avoid confusion: 3 was changed to 4 and 7 was changed to 6. Finland also used a modified scale, where 12 became 11 and 16 became 15. Finland fully adopted PEGI on 1 January 2007, and the standard ratings were fully enforced as well. Portugal fully adopted PEGI on 1 February 2021, and the standard ratings were also fully enforced.
In addition to the above ratings, PEGI also uses eight content descriptors (nine if Fear and Horror are counted separately):
|Icon||Content descriptor||Years active||Explanation||Corresponding age ratings|
|Bad Language||2003–present||The game contains bad language. This descriptor can be found on games with a PEGI 12 (mild swearing), PEGI 16 (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy) or PEGI 18 rating (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy).|
|Discrimination||2003–present||The game contains depictions of ethnic, religious, nationalistic or other stereotypes deemed likely to encourage hatred. This content is always restricted to a PEGI 18 rating (and may infringe national criminal laws). As of 2023, only five games have this descriptor.|
|Drugs||2003–present||The game refers to or depicts the use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Games with this content descriptor are rated either PEGI 16 or PEGI 18.|
|Fear/Horror||2003–present||The Fear descriptor may appear on games with a PEGI 7 if they contain pictures or sounds that may be frightening or scary to young children. The Horror descriptor may appear on PEGI 12 or PEGI 16 games with horror sound effects or images, but not necessarily any violent content. Although PEGI's official website states that only games rated PEGI 7 may carry the Fear descriptor as of 2023, some games previously rated PEGI 12 or PEGI 16 were given the Fear descriptor instead of Horror.||Fear: |
|Gambling||2003–present||The game contains elements that encourage or teach gambling. These simulations of gambling refer to games of chance that are normally carried out in casinos or gambling halls. Games with this sort of content could previously be classified at PEGI 12 or PEGI 16. As of 2020, all new games with such content, whether or not real-life currency is directly involved, are rated PEGI 18, although older games retain their existing classifications.|
|Sex||2003–present||This content descriptor can accompany a PEGI 12 rating if the game includes sexual posturing or innuendo, a PEGI 16 rating if there is erotic nudity or sexual intercourse without visible genitals, or a PEGI 18 rating if there is explicit sexual activity in the game. Depictions of nudity in a non-sexual context do not require a specific age rating, and this descriptor would not be necessary.|
|Violence||2003–present||The game contains depictions of violence. In games rated PEGI 7 this can only be non-realistic or non-detailed violence. Games rated PEGI 12 can include violence in a fantasy environment or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters, whereas games rated PEGI 16 or 18 have increasingly more realistic-looking violence.|
|In-Game Purchases||2018–present||The game presents players with the options to purchase digital goods or services with real-world currency. These purchases include but are not limited to bonus levels, skins, surprise items, music, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes and upgrades (e.g. to disable ads). This descriptor may be accompanied by an additional notice that the game includes random items such as loot boxes.|
|Icon||Content descriptor||Years active||Explanation||Corresponding age ratings|
|Online||2003–2015||May contain online interactions. This descriptor was discontinued by PEGI in 2015, due to the majority of present-day games and all consoles allowing for online interactions. Still appears for games classified before July 2015.|
As of December 2015, PEGI has rated more than 25,300 games. 42.2% of these games were rated 3, 15.8% rated 7, 22.3% rated 12, 12.7% rated 16 and only 7% were rated 18.
Of all the games that were rated in 2015 (1855 games in total):
- 64.7% (1201) have the Violence content descriptor.
- 25.4% (472) have the Online content descriptor.
- 18.4% (341) have the Bad Language content descriptor.
- 7.7% (142) have the Fear content descriptor.
- 8.0% (90) have the Sex content descriptor.
- 1.4% (26) have the Gambling content descriptor.
- 1.2% (23) have the Drugs content descriptor.
- 0% (0) games have the Discrimination content descriptor.
PEGI and the European Union
A consumer survey commissioned by ISFE in 2012 demonstrated that the PEGI age rating labels are recognised on average by 51% of respondents in 16 countries (highest: France 72%; lowest: Czechia 28%), while 86% of all respondents found them to be clear and 89% found them useful.
PEGI is an example of European harmonization. The European Commission supports the PEGI self-regulation: "PEGI appears to have achieved good results and PEGI On-line is also a promising initiative, making of PEGI a good example of self-regulation in line with the better regulation agenda." Moreover, the European Parliament in its last report on the protection of consumers "takes the view that the PEGI system for rating games is an important tool which has improved transparency for consumers, especially parents, when buying games by enabling them to make a considered choice as to whether a game is suitable for children".
To obtain the ratings for any piece of interactive software, the applicant submits the game with other supporting materials and completes a content declaration, all of which is evaluated by an independent administrator called the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audiovisual Media (NICAM). It is based on the Dutch Kijkwijzer system as well. Following the evaluation the applicant will receive a license to use the rating logos. If the applicant disagrees with the rating, they can ask for an explanation or make a complaint to the complaints board. Consumers may also make complaints to this board.
Although PEGI was established by an industry body (ISFE) the ratings are given by a body independent of the industry and the whole system is overseen by a number of different Boards and Committees. There is the PEGI Council, composed mainly by national representatives for PEGI, that recommends adjustments to the code in light of social, legal and technological developments. Members of the PEGI Council are recruited for their skill and experience from among parent/consumer body representatives, child psychologists, media specialists, civil servants, academics and legal advisers versed in the protection of minors in Europe.
There is also a Complaints Board with experts from various European countries. They deal with complaints related to breaches of requirements of the code of conduct or to age rating recommendations. Should a complaint be received from a consumer or publisher regarding a rating given to a game and no satisfactory settlement can be reached by the PEGI administrator through discussion, explanation or negotiation the complainant may formally request the Complaints Board to mediate. Three board members will then convene, hear the complaint and decide on a ruling. Publishers using the PEGI system are bound by the decision of the Complaints Board. Consequently, they are obliged to carry out any corrective actions required and, in cases of non-compliance, are subject to sanctions as laid out by the code.
Global cooperation in IARC
In 2013, PEGI co-founded the International Age Rating Coalition with USK and the ESRB. IARC aims to streamline the rating of digitally distributed games and apps by providing a single online system that produces age ratings for all participating regions. By filling out one questionnaire, a publisher instantaneously receives ratings from PEGI, USK, ESRB, ACB and others.
There are a number of committees to ensure the system keeps functioning properly.
- Experts Group: The PEGI Experts Group is made up of academics working in the fields of psychology and sociology, and representatives from NICAM, VSC, and the games industry. It works on adapting and modifying the PEGI questionnaire and the underlying criteria to take account of technological and content developments and recommendations made by the PEGI Council or circumstances brought to light by the complaints procedure.
- Legal Committee: Since PEGI is a voluntary system it runs in conjunction with, and is subordinate to, existing national laws, whether they prohibit certain content or establish mandatory rating systems. The Legal Committee's role is to advise PEGI s.a. of any changes to national legislation within participating countries that could affect the voluntary age rating system.
- Enforcement Committee: The Enforcement Committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the PEGI Council and, more generally, of ensuring the enforcement of the provisions of the PEGI Code of Conduct, including conclusion of the Complaints Board.
In 2007, the PEGI Online division of PEGI was formed as an addition to the PEGI system for online games. Goals include giving young people in Europe improved protection against unsuitable online gaming content and educating parents on how to ensure safe online play. This project is supported directly by the European Commission:
PEGI On-line, which was launched in June 2007 and co-funded by the Safer Internet Programme, is the logical development of the PEGI system, designed to better protect young people against unsuitable gaming content and to help parents to understand the risks and potential for harm within this environment.
PEGI Online is based on four principles:
- The PEGI Online Safety Code and Framework Contract which is signed by all participants
- The PEGI Online Logo which will be displayed by holders of a licence
- The website for applicants and for the general public
- An independent administration, advice, and dispute settlement process
The licence to display the PEGI Online Logo is granted by the PEGI Online Administrator to any online gameplay service provider that meets the requirements set out in the PEGI Online Safety Code (POSC).
This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2022)
PEGI is the standard age rating system for video games in 40 European countries alongside Israel, but products with PEGI labels can be found across the globe alongside other rating systems as a result of import for linguistic reasons (e.g.: English versions in India, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, Spanish or Portuguese versions in Latin America). The official status of PEGI ratings varies from country to country, depending on the way national legislation deals with age classification and the protection of minors. In some countries, PEGI is the de facto standard without specific regulation, other countries have officially acknowledged PEGI as the sole system for age ratings, while yet another number of countries have incorporated the PEGI rating system into laws governing the age classification of media, making the labels enforceable in retail.
Officially supports PEGI
|Austria||PEGI is legally adopted and enforceable in the region of Vienna. Other regions allow the choice between PEGI and USK, with the exception of the Salzburg region, where USK labels are mandatory. Represented in the PEGI Council.|
|Belgium||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Bulgaria||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Cyprus||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis. Northern Cyprus however does not officially support PEGI, but uses it. Nor does it have a legislative basis, even though it is internationally recognised as part of the Republic of Cyprus, some laws like those do not apply there. PEGI labels are used as most are imported from Turkey and the rest of the EU.|
|Czech Republic||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Denmark||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Estonia||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Finland||In Finland, games with PEGI ratings are exempt from mandatory classification with national age symbols. Both classifications are enforced by the penal code. Represented in the PEGI Council.||KAVI|
|France||France has adopted legislation making classification of video games with age labels mandatory. Represented in the PEGI Council.|
|Greece||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Iceland||PEGI is officially supported and age classifications are mandatory for video games by law.|
|Ireland||PEGI ratings are exempt from mandatory classification by IFCO, which adopts PEGI. IFCO is still legally empowered to ban certain video game content from the market. Represented in the PEGI Council.|
|Israel||PEGI has been adopted by law as the mandatory classification system for video games in Israel since 2007.|
|Latvia||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Lithuania||Lithuanian legislation has adopted PEGI which is exempt from mandatory classification with national age symbols. Both classifications are enforced by the penal code as of November 2010.|
|Malta||Officially supports PEGI and is represented in the PEGI Council, PEGI is the legally enforceable system for game classification in Malta since January 2016.|
|Netherlands||PEGI is officially adopted and legislation is in place to enforce age classification in shops where video games are sold.|
|Portugal||PEGI has officially been adopted by the Portuguese Classification Board IGAC. Represented in the PEGI Council.||IGAC|
|Romania||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|Slovenia||Officially supports PEGI, but there is no specific legislative basis.|
|United Kingdom||Officially supports PEGI (PEGI is the legally enforceable system for game classification in the UK since 30 July 2012). Represented in the PEGI Council.||BBFC|
|Albania||Does not use PEGI labels and does not officially support PEGI. Also, does not have a legislative basis.|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Does not use PEGI labels and does not officially support PEGI. Also, does not have a legislative basis.|
|Croatia||Does not officially support PEGI, but PEGI labels are shown on digital stores and localized physical releases since the 2010s. Also, does not have a legislative basis.|
|Germany||The USK system is adopted and enforced. PEGI is not formally recognised, although PEGI labelling can be found on games along with the USK rating. Not represented on the PEGI Council.||USK|
|Hungary||Does not officially support PEGI, but PEGI labels are shown on digital stores and localized physical releases since the 2000s. Also, does not have a legislative basis.|
|Kosovo||Does not use PEGI labels and does not officially support PEGI. Also, does not have a legislative basis.|
|Russia||RARS system adopted in 2012. All games, including imported, must have the RARS rating present. PEGI labels were originally used prior to 2012, but were never officially recognised.||RARS|
|Serbia||Uses PEGI labels, but support from governing body is unknown.|
|Slovakia||JSO system adopted. Imported games (mostly with PEGI or USK rating) meant for selling in Slovak stores must have at least sticker with specific JSO rating on plastic foil of game keep-case.||JSO|
|Switzerland||Switzerland is preparing national legislation to make classification of video games with age labels legally binding.|
|Turkey||Uses PEGI labels in almost all foreign & Turkish published video games inside the country, and so do the publishers, but does not have an official legislative basis regarding PEGI, and is not represented in the PEGI council.|
|Ukraine||Does not officially use PEGI labels, but many video games published for sale in the country can be seen labeled with PEGI. Also, does not have a legislative basis regarding it.|
Portrayals of gambling
Games containing minigames resembling casino games and gambling may be subject to heightened ratings due to "12" being the minimum for the "Gambling" descriptor. A 2016 re-release of Pokémon Red and Blue for Nintendo 3DS received a "12" rating (despite receiving the "E" rating from the U.S.-based ESRB) due to its "Game Corner" feature, which includes slot machines that can be played with in-game cash to earn coins redeemable for items. The European release of Pokémon Platinum (2009) was modified to remove the slot machines and replace them with non-interactive "game machines". As of 2020, PEGI’s policies regarding content that resemble casino games and gambling have gotten stricter, with new games featuring the “Simulated Gambling” content descriptor automatically receiving an “18” rating from that point forward.
In 2019, the basketball video game NBA 2K20 received criticism for a trailer, focused on its "MyTeam" mode, which depicted chance-based minigames styled after casino games such as roulette, slots and pachinko. The visuals were considered to be sensitive due to increasing controversy over use of "loot box" mechanics in video games. After receiving an e-mail expressing concern over the trailer, PEGI clarified in response that the "Gambling" descriptor applies only to games that "teach" and "encourage" gambling, although admitting that the trailer's imagery may have been "too close for comfort" for some viewers, and that PEGI did not base its ratings decisions on singular trailers.
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- ""ABE VR"". PEGI. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
- Good, Owen S. (31 August 2019). "PEGI rating board explains why it didn't flag NBA 2K20 as gambling". Polygon. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
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- Communication from the commission of the European parliament, the council, the European economic and social committee and the committee of the regions, on the protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games, Brussels, 2008, p.9
- Toine Manders, Report of the European Parliament on the protection of the consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games, 2009, p.6. article 24
- "PEGI Assessment Form" (PDF). Pegi.info. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 December 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- NICAM website Archived 21 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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- "PEGI Online Website". Pegionline.info. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- Communication from the commission of the European parliament, the council, the European economic and social committee and the committee of the regions, on the protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games, Brussels, 2008, p.3.
- "PEGI Online Safety Code". Pegionline.info.
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- "Austrian government page explaining PEGI and its legal status in the regions". 13 November 2018.
- "Article explaining plans for legal change in France". 20 May 2015.
- "Text of the amendment proposing the change".
- "Icelandic Media Act (2006)".
- "Article detailing legal requirement to use PEGI in Israel". Library of Congress.
- "Legislative text specifying PEGI as the labelling system for video games in Lithuania".
- "Penal code text specifying enforcement of sales restriction of certain media content to minors".
- Government document outlining the role of PEGI in legal context: "Betere bescherming van jongeren tegen mogelijk schadelijk beeldmateriaal" [Better protection of youth against potentially harmful imagery] (PDF) (in Dutch). Rijksoverheid. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 June 2016.
- "MCV: PEGI ratings come into force today". MCV. 15 May 2019.
- "BBC News: UK enforces PEGI video game ratings system". BBC News. 30 July 2012.
- "Statutes of the USK system" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2012.
- "О защите детей от информации, причиняющей вред их здоровью и развитию" [On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development]. Article No. 11 of 23 December 2010 (in Russian). Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
- "Swiss federal government announcement".
- Foreign video games published for sale in Turkey are almost all published under European (And EU) licenses, including Turkish-published video games, and almost all are imported from Europe or the European Union, and thus having the PEGI labels on them though it is not officially supported by law. Those released under European licenses can be Turkish branches of the European publishers,(e.g Under a EU or other European based parent company.) -or just European publishers on their own which have the valid and certified (licensed) European licenses that are published with the sold items in Turkey, thus making it verified & certified. (And in case of warranty, all have it covered by a warranty as well.)The classification was semi-officially brought to Turkey in 2014 with a deal between private-owned TOGED (Game Developers Association of Turkey) and PEGI. Second-hand sold items in shops can have different labels, mostly such as the German USK. PEGI is also used while advertising video-games, and in the commercials.
- GoodGamers.biz (6 November 2017). "Turkish gamer youth to be informed by PEGI classification". GoodGamers.biz. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
- See video games in Turkey for more information.
- In some provinces of the country the Russian and Belarusian RARS rating-system is used.
- Yin-Poole, Wesley (31 August 2019). "PEGI responds to complaint about NBA 2K20's age-rating following casino trailer backlash". Eurogamer. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
- Towell, Justin (9 June 2009). "European Pokemon Platinum's missing Game Corner explained". GamesRadar. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
- Robertson, Andrew (2 August 2021). "PEGI Rating For Gambling Descriptor Is Now Always 18+". Retrieved 10 October 2023.
- Wakeling, Richard. "NBA 2K20 Trailer Is Very Happy To Showcase Its Loot Boxes And Gambling Mechanics". GameSpot.
- "PEGI aware that NBA 2K20 gambling imagery may be "too close for comfort"". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
- Good, Owen S. (31 August 2019). "PEGI rating board explains why it didn't flag NBA 2K20 as gambling". Polygon. Archived from the original on 1 September 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2019.