Update: ESRB Does Allow Differently Rated Downloadable Content, If Content Is Optional

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board thinks downloadable content is good, but not if the content steps outside of the original product’s rating, we reported Wednesday.

That’s not exactly the case.

The ESRB contacted MTV Multiplayer this morning to provide some clarification on ESRB president Patricia Vance’s comments from the MI6 Conference.

Downloadable content can stray from the original rating, as long as the content is an optional downoad for the user.

“Companies are free to offer downloadable content to their games as long as the pertinent content is the same as the core product. If it isn’t, they have to submit it to the ESRB,” said Vance in an e-mailed statement to Multiplayer. “If the downloadable content earns a more restrictive (higher) age rating, and it is of an optional nature, it must display the new rating prior to the user downloading it. The core product’s rating won’t change, unless the new downloadable content is part of a required patch, as is typically the case with MMOs that must be patched in order to play.”

Some readers had expressed distress over the ESRB’s original statements and the implications for creative restriction, but Vance’s new comments seem to put those concerns to rest. Readers, are you satisfied?