Industry Nervous About California Game Law Ruling

Industry Nervous About California Game Law Ruling

Leading games industry figures are concerned that the US Supreme Court has chosen to review a California law proposing restrictions on the sale or rental of violent games.

The Supreme Court said in April that it will review the law during its next term beginning this October, despite the motion being struck down as unconstitutional in a lower court ruling.

The outcome will determine whether individual states can impose sales restrictions on games that could see violent titles classed as X-rated entertainment, therefore legally limiting their sale to adults.

“It’s very, very surprising that the Supreme Court is hearing the case,” Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick told CNBC. “I’m worried about it, and I think everybody in our business should be really worried about it.”

“It’s not about having a dramatic impact on our bottom line,” said Graham Hopper, Disney Interactive Studios’ general manager of. “It’s going to make our retailing abilities a nightmare.”

EA CEO John Riccitiello said laws could theoretically be passed making the definition of violence slightly different in each state, forcing companies to release multiple versions of games. “The implication of Schwarzenegger v. ESA is we could end up with state level bureaucracies that define what’s marketable in 50 different jurisdictions across the US. I can imagine [the government] trying to tell Steven Spielberg ‘We need 50 different cuts of your movie for each state.’ It will screw us up in a real way.”

Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton is hopeful the Supreme Court ruling will put an end to an issue that has raised its head on numerous occasions. “We believe as an industry that the primary reason the Supreme Court is hearing it is despite the fact that this law has been struck down, [the issue] has come up 12 times [previously]. I think the Supreme Court is looking at it to potentially see if there’s something to it or to put an end to it once and for all.”