CE Marking: The General Product Safety Directive
I’ve said a few times in this blog series that one of the big reasons to get CE marking is that everything produced for sale within the EU falls under some form of legislation and at least with CE marking you know what it is. In preparation for a Podcast with BGDL I’ve finally tracked down what exactly it is that you operate under without it, namely GPSD 2001/95/EC. GPSD stands for General Product Safety Directives, and if your product doesn’t fall under CE marking guidelines or other more specific guidelines (such as pharmaceuticals) then that’s what covers it.
First, to make it clear, there are two actual options for your game in relation to safety marking:
You put the CE mark on it, and get the CE testing to justify it.
You don’t put a CE mark on it but put on a 14+ age range that you can defend then make sure it passes under GPSD legislation.
What you cannot do is CE mark it, place on a 14+ age rating and then not test it, the CE mark means it has been tested under CE legislation and the 14+ rating is then intended as a guideline only. If you’re using the 14+ age rating to justify not testing you cannot use the CE mark because you are claiming not to fall under CE legislation, you are instead claiming to fall under GPSD legislation. To re-iterate, because it is important, if you are not doing CE testing because your game is for a 14+ age rating then its because you are claiming that it does not qualify as a toy under EU directives and so does not need a CE mark and cannot legally be given one. In which case you need to abide by GPSD legislation instead of CE marking legislation.
Why would you use GPSD legislation? In short, I’d strongly suggest you don’t for two reasons, customs and the legislation itself:
Customs officers, like most people, want their lives to be as easy as possible. There are two sorts of things that might be toys that come across their desks, ones with CE marking that they can pass without too much question as safe in their country, or ones without CE marking which they then have to judge not only on whether they in fact fall outside of the CE legislation but also whether they have been checked according to local guidelines. So, if you put the CE mark on your game and test for it properly, you’re increasing the chances of it moving smoothly through customs. If you don’t CE mark it and rely on GPSD then you’ll have to enter into a discussion with customs on whether or not it qualifies for GPSD as opposed to CE marking. You’re essentially relying on being in the right saving you from bureaucracy wrecking your company, and it shouldn’t take me to tell you that being in the right actually counts for very little. You will win out eventually, but delays could run into years rather than months, sufficient that companies have been forced to enter into costly local re-prints. Customs delays have killed independent games companies dead and the potential losses for delays are significant, certainly more than the cost of CE marking, if that’s even going to be saved anyway.
What is GPSD legislation? Essentially, it’s that your product should be safe for all age groups under the local laws and legislation of the country you’re selling it in. The EU is designed to allow smooth free transition of goods between countries and CE marking is designed to facilitate that. If you choose not to operate under CE marking you’re essentially choosing not to have smoothly freely transferable goods and GPSD legislation is part of that. As such rather than making sure your game is save for under 14s you will then have to make sure it’s safe for children and the elderly and everyone else, and rather than following 3 pieces of legislation across the EU you’ll need to follow every piece of legislation across every individual EU country you intend to sell in (25 at the time of writing). It could be more legislation, it could be less, frankly good luck finding out which but it’s not none.
To conclude, if you’re selling a product in the EU it will fall under some form of legislation, the easiest, cheapest and most beneficial to operate under is CE marking. Frankly if your game really doesn’t qualify for CE marking you will better benefit yourself by claiming that it does and testing under it than by avoiding it.