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Apps and Games to Get Rated for Violence, Sex, Drugs

By - Source: CTIA | B 13 comments

Games and social apps will get the ESRB treatment on storefronts provided by AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless.

There's no question that smartphone and tablet apps have needed some kind of ratings system for some time now, especially on Android. Apple's iOS app approval process is unquestionably strict -- more so than Amazon and far more than Google -- yet that factor still doesn't prevent young consumers from downloading content inappropriate for their age. But that's now about to change thanks to a voluntary ratings system launched by Washington-based CTIA-The Wireless Association.

Revealed on Tuesday, the new ratings system will reportedly be backed by six storefronts provided by AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Mobile apps for games and social networking will use a 5-point ratings system created and operated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. As with games sold on consoles, PC and Mac, the ratings will range from the "E" for everyone to "AO" for adults only.

But as previously stated, the program will be voluntary, and so far has not enlisted the two major app suppliers for iOS and Android: Apple and Google respectively. "We’ve put a lot of effort into Android Market’s rating system, which now works well globally," Christopher Katsaros, a Google spokesman, said in an e-mail to BusinessWeek. "While we support other systems, we think it’s best for Android users and developers to stick with Android’s existing ratings."

On Tuesday CTIA stated that, when developers submit their applications to a participating storefront, they will be able to complete a detailed yet quick multiple choice questionnaire that is designed to assess an application’s content and context with respect to its age-appropriateness.

"This includes violence or sexual content, language, substances, etc., as well as other elements such as a minimum age requirement, the exchange of user-generated content, the sharing of a user’s location with other users of the application and the sharing of user-provided personal information with third parties," CTIA said in a press release.

The wireless association added that apps are rated within seconds once the questions have been completed. "Each rated app is issued a certificate and a unique identifying code that may be subsequently submitted to other storefronts during their respective onboarding processes, avoiding the need for developers to repeat the rating process," CTIA continued. "This means consistent ratings across participating storefronts and a convenient, cost-free process for app developers."

During the announcement, the ESRB promised to routinely test the most popular applications and closely monitor consumer complaints. Inappropriate ratings by consumers will trigger the ESRB to adjust the app's rating assignment and inform both the developer and storefront of the change. There will be no expiration date associated with app rating assignments and no renewal requirement, but resubmittals may be required if apps undergo extensive revisions that may affect its overall rating.

"Verizon Wireless applauds CTIA and ESRB for taking this step to help consumers better understand what kind of content is available on their mobile devices, and to help them manage their wireless experiences," the Big Red wireless carrier said on Tuesday. "Verizon Wireless has long supported CTIA’s efforts and has led the industry in offering content ratings and free content filters for its customers."

Today’s announcement is an extension of CTIA’s 2010 Guidelines for Application Content Classification and Rating, CTIA said.

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  • 3 Hide
    JasonAkkerman , November 29, 2011 9:43 PM
    Nose Candy on Android market... always gets a laugh. It will definitely get slapped with an M rating.
  • 6 Hide
    AbdullahG , November 29, 2011 9:45 PM
    Angry Birds: Rated M for Mature
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 29, 2011 9:49 PM
    AbdullahGAngry Birds: Rated M for Mature


    Still gonna need parents that give a crap... so... what's the point?
  • Display all 13 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , November 29, 2011 9:59 PM
    Dear censorship:
    Go f*ck yourself.
    (* = irony)
  • 4 Hide
    dalethepcman , November 29, 2011 10:02 PM
    The obvious question here, is "Why would you need to rate content on a device that you legally have to be 18 to use?"

    Now if as a parent you decide you want to sign your child up for a Google/Live account (you must be 18 to have one) or iTunes (must be 13.) Then you as a parent take the responsibility of teaching your child about access to the internet. If they access violent or adult themed content its your problem, not the creator or the distributor of said content.

    The only place that could use a rating is iTunes, which already has an internal process keeping everything above PG-13 out.
  • 7 Hide
    igot1forya , November 29, 2011 10:07 PM
    Back in the day when I worked at a retail store, I remember on more than one occasion where I denied selling a game to a kid because he was too young... then having an annoyed parent come in to pay for the game anyways.

    The rating systems are not a replacement for poor/lazy parenting.
  • -5 Hide
    tanjo , November 29, 2011 10:09 PM
    Should've done this from the start (and not voluntarily). Lazy bastards.
  • 2 Hide
    memadmax , November 29, 2011 10:26 PM
    Does anyone even pay attention to this crap?
    I mean, WalMart is the only one that peseudo enforces the crap, if you find a checkout lady that does the actual card check............. Even then, it's the parents that end up comeing back(annoyingly) to buy the game for the kid.....
  • 1 Hide
    11796pcs , November 29, 2011 10:55 PM
    memadmaxDoes anyone even pay attention to this crap?I mean, WalMart is the only one that peseudo enforces the crap, if you find a checkout lady that does the actual card check............. Even then, it's the parents that end up comeing back(annoyingly) to buy the game for the kid.....

    Gamestop also seems to do it, but none of them enforce well. And frankly I'd rather give my kid just about any video game (except for a few like L4D and GTA) than have them seeing who knows what on the Internet. At least if I was to buy a game for my child I would know what they are playing and be able to look it up. Also, you can just tell by the way someone acts, looks and dresses if they are mature enough. There are a lot of teens who I would sell an M game to, but if you're under 13- you're really just too young.
    Igot1foryaBack in the day when I worked at a retail store, I remember on more than one occasion where I denied selling a game to a kid because he was too young... then having an annoyed parent come in to pay for the game anyways.The rating systems are not a replacement for poor/lazy parenting.

    I completely agree +1.
  • 5 Hide
    tanjo , November 29, 2011 11:18 PM
    memadmaxDoes anyone even pay attention to this crap?I mean, WalMart is the only one that peseudo enforces the crap, if you find a checkout lady that does the actual card check............. Even then, it's the parents that end up comeing back(annoyingly) to buy the game for the kid.....

    That's true but not the point. It (rating system) is just a reason for parents not to blame the games for something bad that their kids learned from that game. The game's rating is just a disclaimer of some sort. Devs/publishers need to cover their bases. It's narrow minded to not implement a rating system.
  • 1 Hide
    Jarmo , November 30, 2011 5:21 AM
    Now just give me a reverse filter so as to find the gems amongst all the kiddie trash.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , November 30, 2011 9:13 AM
    nose candy made me lol hard
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , December 1, 2011 4:22 AM
    I'm sure Apple would not like to have its control over the age-restriction in their App Store wrestled away.
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