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VGG User Guide: Ratings Platform and Media

Purpose of This Guide

This guide is intended to provide easy access to data on the convoluted history of regional ratings and platform media. Ratings and media type for a given system can be particularly hard to find, especially for older hardware. We hope this guide will become a valuable asset to our user base.

Region-Locking

Region-locking or region coding is a class of digital restrictions management that prevents the use of certain products or services, such as multimedia or a hardware device, outside of a specific country or territory. Essentially this prevents a Japanese game release for example, from being played on a North American video game console.

This practice is a common means of controlling product pricing and demand within a given area. Whilst rare within the video gaming hobby, some manufacturers have opted to region-lock their devices, prompting some dedicated gamers to find creative and oftentimes illegal ways around the lock-out. The practice has largely fallen out of fashion in recent years with the rise of digital distribution.

Region-Locked Consoles:

Video Game Rating Systems

Just as movies are rated based on their content, so to are video games. It is largely believed that video game ratings became mainstream in 1994 with the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). However many rating systems existed well before the ESRB's formation. Sometimes the local motion picture rating system was used in place of a video game specific one. Facing increasing pressure, particularly during the early 1990s, many video game companies voluntary implemented their own rating systems, such as Sega's Videogame Rating Council' (VRC) or the 3DO Company's 3DO Rating System.

Most current systems used for the classification of video games are associated with and/or sponsored by a government and the rating system used varies greatly with the country. The chart below lists the major rating systems and when they first took affect. The chart is in no way a complete list, with many countries using and discontinuing the use of several rating systems over the years. With the rise of mobile gaming some companies have opted out of government rating systems in favor of platform specific ones.

Country/Government Rating Systems:

REGION 88 89
90 91 92 93 94
95 96 97 98 99
00 01 02 03 04
05 06 07 08 09
10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19
Main Europe ELSPA PEGI
UK ELSPA PEGI PEGI/BBFC
New Zealand OFLC(NZ)
USA [1] ESRB [2]
Australia OFLC(AU) OFLC(AU)/ACB
Germany USK
France SELL PEGI
Brazil DJCTQ
Japan CERO
Finland PEGI/VET
South Korea KMRB [3] GRB
Taiwan CSRR [3]
Iran ESRA

[1] - VRC ratings were used in 1993 for Sega Genesis, Game Gear and CD titles in the US
[2] - This rating and it's timeline is also used for Canada (except Quebec) and Mexico
[3] - Not sure when this rating started

Company/Platform Specific Rating Systems:

COMPANY 92 93
94 95 96 97 98
99 00 01 02 03
04 05 06 07 08
09 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23
SEGA V.R.C. [3]
RSAC [2] RSAC Internet Rating
3DO 3DO Rating System [1]
Apple Apple Rated
Google Play Android Maturity Level ESRB
Amazon Amazon Maturity Rating

[1] - Not sure when this rating ended
[2] - RSAC stands for Recreational Software Advisory Council. They were an independent, non-profit organization founded in the US to rate PC games.
[3] - Full name: Videogame Rating Council

Media Types Supported by Hardware

All hardware requires media in some form to play a game. It ranges from tangible media such discs and cartridges to something intangible like a download.

The chart below groups hardware by 'generation' and lists what media types each one took. If you are unfamiliar with a system, some extra research may be required. For example the chart says that the PS3 takes DVD, Blu-Ray, and download. However it was only the early PS3s that took DVD. All later models were Blu-Ray and download only.

SYSTEM: 1st Generation Rel. Year Cartridge Cassette 5.25" Disk 3" Disk 3.5" Disk CD-ROM GD-ROM e-Read.Card DVD N.O.Media [2] UMD Blu-Ray Game Card DLC [1]
Odyssey 1972 Yes
CP/M 1974 Yes
Fairchild Channel F 1976 Yes
Telstar 1976 Yes
Apple II 1977 Yes
Atari 2600 1977 Yes
Bally Astrocade 1977 Yes
Commodore PET/CBM 1977 Yes
TRS-80 Model I/III 1977 Yes Yes
Exidy Sorcerer 1978 Yes Yes Yes
MUD 1978 Yes
Odyssey² 1978 Yes
Atari 8-bit family 1979 Yes Yes Yes
Intellivision 1979 Yes
Microvision 1979 Yes
SYSTEM: 2nd & 3rd Generation Cartridge Cassette 5.25" Disk 3" Disk 3.5" Disk CD-ROM GD-ROM e-Read.Card DVD N.O.Media [2] UMD Blu-Ray Game Card DLC [1]
Vic 20 1980 Yes Yes
TRS-80 Color Computer 1980 Yes
BBC Micro 1981 Yes Yes
PC Booter 1981 Yes Yes
TI-99 1981 Yes
Atari 5200 1982 Yes
ColecoVision 1982 Yes
Commodore 64 1982 Yes Yes Yes Yes
DOS 1982 Yes Yes Yes
PC-9801 1987 Yes Yes
Thomson MO/TO Series 1982 Yes
Vectrex 1982 Yes
ZX Spectrum 1982 Yes Yes
Coleco Adam 1983 Yes
MSX 1983 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oric 1983 Yes
SG-1000 1983 Yes
Amstrad CPC 1984 Yes Yes
Commodore 16 1984 Yes Yes
Commodore Plus/4 1984 Yes
Dragon 32/64 1984 Yes
Macintosh 1984 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Amiga 1985 Yes Yes
Atari ST 1985 Yes
NES 1985 Yes
Windows 1985 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Atari 7800 1986 Yes
SEGA Master System 1986 Yes Yes
Acorn Archimedes 1987 Yes
OS/2 1987 Yes Yes
PC-8801 1987 Yes Yes
TurboGrafx-16 1987 Yes Yes
Sharp X68000 1987 Yes Yes
Genesis 1988 Yes
Atari Lynx 1989 Yes
FM Towns 1989 Yes Yes
Game Boy 1989 Yes
Lynx 1989 Yes
SYSTEM: 3rd, 4th, & 5th Generation Cartridge Cassette 5.25" Disk 3" Disk 3.5" Disk CD-ROM GD-ROM e-Read.Card DVD N.O.Media [2] UMD Blu-Ray Game Card DLC [1]
Neo Geo 1990 Yes
SEGA Game Gear 1990 Yes
SNES 1990 Yes
Web Browser 1990 Yes
CD-i 1991 Yes
FM Towns Marty 1991 Yes Yes
Linux 1991 Yes Yes Yes Yes
SEGA CD 1991 Yes
3DO 1993 Yes
Jaguar 1993 Yes Yes
PlayStation 1994 Yes
SEGA 32X 1994 Yes
SEGA Saturn 1994 Yes
Virtual Boy 1995 Yes
Nintendo 64 1996 Yes
Dreamcast 1998 Yes
Game Boy Color 1998 Yes Yes
Neo-Geo Pocket 1998 Yes
Neo-Geo Pocket Color 1999 Yes
Other Mobile Games 1999 Yes
PlayStation 2 1999 Yes Yes
WonderSwan 1999 Yes
SYSTEM: 5th, 6th, & 7th Generation Cartridge Cassette 5.25" Disk 3" Disk 3.5" Disk CD-ROM GD-ROM e-Read.Card DVD N.O.Media [2] UMD Blu-Ray Game Card DLC [1]
WonderSwan Color 2000 Yes
BREW 2001 Yes
Game Boy Advance 2001 Yes
GameCube 2001 Yes Yes
Symbian OS 2001 Yes
Xbox 2001 Yes
iQue Player 2003 Yes
N-Gage 2003 Yes
Nintendo DS 2004 Yes Yes
PSP 2004 Yes Yes
Game Wave 2005 Yes
Gizmondo 2005
Xbox 360 2005 Yes Yes
PlayStation 3 2006 Yes Yes Yes
Wii 2006 Yes Yes
iPhone 2007 Yes
V.Smile 2007 Yes
Didj 2008 Yes
Leapster 2008 Yes
Android 2009 Yes
SYSTEM: 8th Generation Cartridge Cassette 5.25" Disk 3" Disk 3.5" Disk CD-ROM GD-ROM e-Read.Card DVD N.O.Media [2] UMD Blu-Ray Game Card DLC [1]
iPad 2010 Yes
Windows Phone 2010 Yes
Nintendo 3DS 2011 Yes Yes
PlayStation Vita 2012 Yes Yes Yes
Wii U 2012 Yes Yes
OUYA 2013 Yes
Playstation 4 2013 Yes Yes Yes
Xbox One 2013 Yes Yes Yes
Cartridge Cassette 5.25" Disk 3" Disk 3.5" Disk CD-ROM GD-ROM e-Read.Card DVD N.O.Media [2] UMD Blu-Ray Game Card DLC [1]

[1] - DLC stands for Downloadable Content.
[2] - N.O. Media stands for Nintendo Optical Media.

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