LANSING, Mich. -- Over 30 retailers, including Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Ark., were named by the state attorney general here for selling "Mature"-rated video games to minors.
implement voluntary self-policing policies to improve their performance.
The sting used eight children aged 9 to 13 who attempted to purchase the games at a total of 35 video game retailers and rental outlets in five Michigan cities: Dearborn, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Saginaw. In addition to Meijer and Wal-Mart, Babbages, Best Buy, Blockbuster Video, Circuit City, CompUSA, Kmart, MediaPlay, OfficeMax, Staples, Target and Toys 'R' Us were also visited.
The children were able to purchase "Mature" games in all but two chains, Babbages and Target. Additionally, four Blockbuster Video outlets rented "Mature" product to the minors.
Granholm reported that "a number of retailers, including OfficeMax, Meijer, Kmart and Wal-Mart, have assured the attorney general's office that they are in the process of making changes in their video game sales policies."
With the support of several community-based organizations, the attorney general asked retailers to use "We Card" policies for age verification and parental permission, along with "clear and conspicuous" display of industry ratings to promote a better informed public.
Video Rental Market Declines
NEW YORK -- A slower Halloween rental period contributed to an existing decline during the opening weeks of the fourth-quarter video rental market, according to analysts Alexander & Associates here.
The decline is in comparison to the previous month and to the same period last year, with downturns noted in both the number of active households (those renting at least one VHS tape weekly) and the average number of tapes rented.
For the six-week period ending Oct. 17, an average 27.8% of households were active, dropping from 30% during the same period in 1999. The average number of tapes rented by each of these households fell as well, to 2.57 tapes from 2.67 a year earlier.
For the week ending Oct. 17, active households dropped to 23.8% from the 32.9% achieved a month prior.
This decline has continued. "Halloween rental volume was significantly lower this year than last," said Alexander & Associates analyst Greg Durkin. The situation could impact specialists' buying decisions for the rest of the year. If revenues fell below expectations, "they won't be as willing to invest in product in the second half," said Durkin.