ESRB mobile app ratings system detailed

AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, US Cellular, and Verizon Wireless sign on to use automated application assessment system.

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Yesterday, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) announced a partnership with CTIA - The Wireless Association to introduce a mobile application rating system. Today, the pair unveiled details of the new plan, which will use the same ratings categories already in place for games.

This system is rated
This system is rated "M" for "pertaining to Mobile applications."

CTIA announced today that the ESRB's existing video game content rating system will make the jump to mobile applications. AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, US Cellular, and Verizon Wireless have all already signed on to support the new system, and CTIA said other storefront operators have "indicated their interest."

Apple and Google use their own proprietary content ratings system and were not addressed in the new rating system announcement.

The mobile application rating process is streamlined over the video games counterpart. Whereas console and PC video games have to go through a review process, the mobile application system will employ an automated rating procedure based on a "multiple choice questionnaire that is designed to assess an application's content and context with respect to its age appropriateness." A similar system is already part of the ESRB's rating process for downloadable content in games.

A rating for this mobile app system is said to be assigned within "seconds," and the rated app will be issued a certificate and unique identifying code for streamlined submission to all supporting storefronts. The application and submission process will be free. The ESRB also said it will routinely test popular apps and quickly respond to complaints of misassigned ratings.

The ESRB said it is up to the carriers to announce when they will roll out the new rating system, adding that full implementation of the ratings will vary by store.

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