The Entertainment Software Rating Board was established in 1994 to assign content ratings to video game releases and has been largely dedicated to the console and PC space since then. With the rise in popularity of mobile applications on smartphones, the regulatory body is set to expand the coverage of its rating system.
CTIA, the international organization that oversees the wireless communication industry, announced today that it has partnered with the ESRB to introduce a content rating system for mobile applications. Full details will be revealed tomorrow at 10 a.m. Eastern time, but CTIA did indicate that "applications will be rated based on age-appropriateness of their content and context."
The group refers to the new plan as a "mobile application rating system," suggesting it will reach beyond the realm of games. Traditionally, ESRB ratings have been applied only to video games, but mobile apps introduce a range of different experiences that may benefit from a formal rating process.
The Apple App Store and Google Android Marketplace currently feature user-based quality rating systems, and their own proprietary content ratings systems. Apple employs a numerical rating system (4+, 9+, 12+, and 17+), and the Android Marketplace uses a descriptive text-based system (Everyone, Low maturity, Medium maturity, and High maturity). Although it is unclear how and if the ESRB's new system would be integrated into existing stores, it could provide a more universal scale.