Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association
From Sega Retro
The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) was an organisation set up in 1989 by British software publishers. It was known as the European Leisure Software Publishers Association until 2002. ELSPA officially changed its name to the "Association for UK Interactive Entertainment" ("Ukie") on September 7th, 2010.
From February 9th 1994 to Spring 2004, ELSPA voluntarily rated computer games released in Britain that were exempt from legal classification by the BBFC. The ratings given were originally 3–10, 11–14, 15–17 and 18+. Red "X"s highlighted ages a game was unsuitable for, while a tick in the categories above that indicated suitable ages. For example, a game suitable for all ages would have all categories checked. A title suitable only for adults would have "X"s in all categories except for 18+. A title suitable for ages 11 and older would have "X" in 3–10 and ticks in the rest. The ratings were later simplified to 3+, 11+, 15+ or 18+ as appropriate. The Mortal Kombat series was a notable candidate for having more mature audience ratings. This has now been replaced by a European ratings system, called PEGI.
ELSPA were responsible for providing sales charts for computer and video games sold in the United Kingdom, and promoting anti-piracy initiatives, very much like the music industry's organisation, the BPI. It also co-manages the London Games Festival and the Edinburgh Interactive Festival.
While ELSPA represented British software publishers, video game developers in the UK are represented by The Independent Games Developers Association.
On 4 January 1983 the official UK music chart compilation was assumed by the "Gallup Organization". In 1984 they expanded to compile weekly sales charts for computer games based on a similar format to their music charts. By the time ELSPA had formed in 1989 the weekly Gallup charts had become the industry recognised standard, and were published in various industry and consumer publications. Subsequently ELSPA contracted Gallup to continue compiling UK computer and video game charts on their behalf, which were from then on commonly referred to as the "ELSPA Charts". Despite Gallup losing the official UK music chart contract on 30 June 1990 due to the BPI stating that they "could no longer afford the £600,000 a year cost", Gallup continued to compile the UK games charts for ELSPA.
Following the console boom of the early '90s Gallup expanded their individual format charts to include console formats along with home computer formats. The first ever Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive, and Sega Game Gear ELSPA charts were published in the October 1992 edition of Sega Power, and would become a regular feature from then on in many different British Sega magazines. With the launch of the "Teletext" service on British TV on 1 January 1993 the weekly Mega Drive chart was also published on Teletext's "Digitiser" gaming section. A Sega Mega CD chart soon followed it's release, with the first chart appearing in the July 1993 edition of Mega Action. However, perhaps due to low sales, low number of releases, or a combination of both no Sega 32X chart was ever compiled.
In 1996 Gallup decided that video game sales charts were no longer a core business. With the backing of ELSPA Gallup management bought out the business from Gallup, forming a new company "Chart-Track". Chart-Track continue to compile the official UK charts to this day, and were responsible for both the Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast charts.