According to two Kommersant interlocutors in the market for the development and distribution of video games, on September 15, a meeting of market participants with regulators was held at the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), at which the prospects for finalizing the current version of the bill on labeling video games in Russia were discussed. At the meeting there were representatives of specialized associations and studios - the Organization for the Development of the Video Game Industry (RVI), the Association of Professionals in the Operating and Game Development Industry (APRIORI), Lesta, as well as officials from the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Health, Roskomnadzor, the Ministry of Digital Development and Rospotrebnadzor. The Ministry of Economic Development, RVI and APRIORI confirmed the fact of the meeting.
There are three key questions for regulators, says APRIORI head Alexander Mikheev: “The first is how they will interact with foreign game distribution platforms in terms of forcing them to label content. Simply put, it is not clear what will happen if an unlabeled game is published on Steam.” The second risk, he continues, is that the bill could potentially be retroactive, resulting in the need to label games that have already been developed and published. “And thirdly, we do not yet understand on what principle the examination of video games will be carried out for compliance with labeling. If the expert commission includes only representatives of departments - the Ministry of Health, Roskomnadzor, the Ministry of Digital Development, and not specialized experts, there is a risk that the examination itself will take place at best formally, and at worst - according to the model of banning any games, in which can be seen as excessive cruelty or violation of Russian legislation.”
The Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Health, Roskomnadzor and a number of other departments are developing a bill on the labeling of video games from 2022. The current version, which is being discussed with market participants, assumes that labeling will be voluntary (it will be carried out by publishers and game developers). But any individual or legal entity who considers that the game’s labeling does not reflect its content will be able to complain to regulators about this, and a special commission (the logic of its formation, as well as the organization responsible for it has not yet been determined) will check the game for the accuracy of the labeling. In addition, the current version of the initiative assumes that the distribution of games that do not contain Russian markings or contain information prohibited for distribution in Russia will be prohibited. The Ministry of Economic Development told Kommersant that they expect to send the final version of the bill to the government for approval by the end of the year.
Read more about how video games will be labeled in Russia in the Kommersant article. “You can’t get away from self-labeling surveillance”