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Online retailers caught selling adult games to under-age boy

Trading Standards pledges to investigate as official stats show surge in popularity of 18-rated games

Some of Britain's biggest online retailers have been found to have delivered 18-rated games to a person under legal age, a CVG investigation has shown.

Zoom

Amazon, HMV and Zavvi delivered the mature content to a person who bought the titles himself with the debit card he received on his sixteenth birthday.

Video footage, posted below, shows the person purchasing three games online without any age verification checks blocking his purchase. Trading Standards has criticised the loopholes, and has warned: "Should a minor make a purchase from these sites, the businesses would not have a due diligence defence to protect them from prosecution".

One of the games the minor purchased was Manhunt 2 - a psychological horror game that in 2007 the BBFC refused to classify due to its violent content (the decision was overruled following appeal).

CVG's investigation into age ratings also found:

  • In the past five years, the market share of 18-rated games has grown from 5 to 18 per cent
  • About a third of all retail games are sold online
  • The most popular age group of Facebook fans for games such as Assassin's Creed 3, Gears of War 3 and Modern Warfare 3 was in the 13-17 range.
  • Both an anonymous EA games director, and a director at Avalanche Studios, believe that more than half of their audience are under age.

Paul Miloseski-Reid, a principal Trading Standards officer, said that the organisation will now engage with retailers to discuss the severity of online loopholes.

He said that retailers "must employ systems to verify the age of the purchaser if they are to have a due diligence defence against prosecution".

"There have been concerns for a number of years that many internet retailers, which include some of the national high street chains, are not taking enough precautions, if any at all, to prevent children purchasing age-restricted products from their websites. The problem appears to be widespread," he added.

Zavvi and HMV declined to comment. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

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