Academics find game classifications do not influence popularity

Researchers from The University of Western Australia working with Perth Games Lab have found Australian Classification Board ratings do not influence players when they are deciding what to play.

The study, a collaboration between UWA, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University and Murdoch University, found players tended to rely upon recommendations from people they knew rather than reviews, trailers or classifications. The only time ratings information was considered relevant was when buying for children. 

Dr Tauel Harper, from UWA’s School of Social Sciences, said the Australian Classification Board’s classification database provided more information about game content than most people were aware of but the effectiveness of ratings were undermined by the large amount of content released and the need to experience a game in order to judge it.

“Consider the differences between playing Wordle and Fortnite and it becomes clear that a classification system can only do so much,” Dr Harper said.

“One of the confounding issues behind communicating game experiences is that the communities of people who play the game actually change the experience of playing it. 

“Even in non-social games the experience of playing a video game can only really be understood by those who have played the game.”

The study also showed that about half of all players found the process of choosing games time-consuming and half also said it was often difficult to tell whether it was going to be enjoyable to play.  As well as low levels of use of game classifications, many players also disregarded game reviews as they thought they were not always trustworthy.

With thousands of games created every year, helping players find games they will enjoy is becoming increasingly important – not just for the players but also for the developers.

In such a saturated and competitive market, it is often difficult and expensive for game developers to reach the right market of players and, as CD Projekt RED found out last year with the troubled release of Cyberpunk 2077, failing to meet community expectations surrounding game experiences can lead to a huge backlash.

Perth Games Lab is exploring the possibility of developing a digital tool that will aggregate social recommendations to help game developers, journalists and players identify and communicate what kinds of experiences any given game provides. 

More information can be found at