One of the things that I think I am good at in video game design, is seeing where a certain system’s desired behavior is actually going to have a completely different outcome in game. Everybody wants to be able to get the most out of something with the least effort and players are notorious for being what we call “Min Max’ers” meaning "Minimum effort for maximum reward."
You don’t have a fee to put something up for auction in your MMO auction system? You want to be nice to the players so they participate in and stimulate your in game economy? Unfortunately, that means the auction system is going to be filled to breaking with absolute trash items; because why destroy something when there is a chance somebody will buy it for a few coins? This happened in Star Wars Galaxies. The database filled up causing it to be painfully slow, you couldn’t find anything of actual value that you may have been looking for and the auction system was useless.
They also allowed players to name their auctions. It defaulted to the name of the item you were selling but you could change it. I suppose because they felt that people could enter things like “buy my crap item cheap!” but instead players named their auctions item names of other more valuable items and scammed people. This was not helped by having crap items and very valuable items share the same inventory icon such as the Holocron which gave you a clue to unlocking your Jedi character. Oh and it didn't filter the auction name through a profanity filter the outcome of which I don't think I have to elaborate on.
Sorry didn’t mean to pick on ol’Star Wars Galaxies, but I sure wasn’t about to list examples from game’s I’ve worked on. Those are mine or my friend’s mistakes! Seriously, what were you thinking?
Anyway, the point of this post was that we are currently seeing an example of this in Utah State Senate bill HB 353. On the surface it says that retailers who advertise that they don’t sell age restricted games to minors, and are caught doing so, will be fined and opened to lawsuits. Critics point out that what will really happen is all the work the industry has being doing to promote its voluntary rating system, educating retailers, etc. will get for nothing because it will be easier (minimum effort) for retails simply to stop advertising the rating system and stop promising they won’t sell restricted games to minors. The result would be (maximum reward), no danger of falling foul of this legislation because Bob, the minimum wage clerk at the register, who really doesn’t give a damn if little Timmy buys a copy of “Headshots II: Your Head Asplode!” for his PS3 despite your advertising, company policy, and that little meeting you had.
The ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) has written an open letter saying pretty much that which you can read over at Game Politics who has been tracking the passage of this, "feel good, oh won't somebody please remember the children, waste of tax dollars, look at what a good politician I am taking care of you, crappy legislation." It has links to the bill itself as well.