CTIA-The Wireless Association and the ESRB have announced a newly-developed rating system for mobile game titles, utilizing the same age rating icons assigned to computer and console games.
The system will be voluntarily supported on six mobile application storefronts as part of the application submission process. AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless are the founding members of the rating system, with full implementation timelines varying by storefront. Other providers have indicated an interest in implementing the ratings system as well.
“Our rating system for computer and video games has been in use since 1994 and has continuously evolved to meet the needs of the highly dynamic industry it serves,” said ESRB president Patricia Vance. “Over the last several years, there has been a veritable explosion in the number and variety of devices and platforms on which to consume interactive entertainment, and mobile devices are a key driver of that growth.
“So we are proud to partner with the wireless industry in lending our expertise and credibility to the development of a rating system that effectively fulfills our mission of informing consumers while meeting the needs of this rapidly growing and evolving segment of the interactive market.”
How works, is developers will submit their applications to a participating storefront and fill out a multiple choice questionnaire designed to assess the application’s content and context. This includes violence or sexual content, language, substances, and other elements such as a minimum age requirement, whether user-generated content will be exchanged or whether or not a user’s location will be shared with other users of the app or third parties.
After developers complete the questionnaire, the application will be rated within seconds and issued a certificate along with a unique identifying code which can then be subsequently to other storefronts during the respective onboarding processes. This will not only provide consistent ratings across participating storefronts, but forego the need to submit an application to each storefront.
To ensure complete disclosure and appropriately assigned ratings, the ESRB will routinely “test the most popular applications and closely monitor consumer complaints.” If an inappropriate rating is found to have been assigned, the ESRB will adjust the rating and notify both the developer and storefront.