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The ESRB is Expanding Its Rating System, But Will They Ever Show Up on the App Store?

Posted by Carter Dotson on October 24th, 2012

The ESRB has become the de facto standard for rating the content of video games. Well, at least packaged retail games. The ESRB is trying to expand out their rating system to cover downloadable games with the new Digital Rating Service. This provides ratings for downloadable games, including mobile apps, as they integrate their system with the CTIA Mobile Apps Review System. This service will allow app developers to fill out an automated questionnaire and instantaneously receive an ESRB rating for their app. This can all be done for free, opening up the ratings system to developers of all sizes.

However, the problem is that the ESRB ratings are currently not on the App Store, and there’s no real unified rating system out there yet for mobile games. The issue going forward with widespread acceptance will be if Apple decides to integrate these ratings into the store. Right now, the App Store uses Apple’s own ratings, with information that is supplied by the developer as to the content of the app and its age-appropriateness. Apple does implement the standardized MPAA ratings and TV ratings on the iTunes Store, so it seems like Apple may be open to an integrated ratings system in theory. However, given that apps are often from independent sources, rather than through studios that have the time and ability to prepare material for rating purposes, there may be hurdles toward Apple implementing ESRB ratings on the App Store. As well, the current ratings are set up for both games and apps, instead of the games focus of the ESRB.

So, the likely scenario is that only certain games will display the ratings, likely as splash screens, and only games from large publishers traditionally associated with the console space that place value on these ratings. If the App Store doesn’t implement them as a standard, then it loses some value, as obviously seeing the rating of an app after it has already been downloaded seems somewhat useless. Only a requirement from the ESRB to display logos in screenshots for games that choose to tuse the ratings may be

However, several of the new labels could come in handy, for those that indicate if an app uses location, features interaction with other people, or shares user information. While the self-reporting nature of the ratings system will not prevent unauthorized apps from sneaking these features past users, though it may educate users more.

So while there’s potential for ESRB ratings to become a real part of the App Store, there are still many, many hurdles for it to become widespread.

This Week at 148Apps: June 4-8

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 11th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

This week, 148Apps was all about Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2012. Take, for instance, Carter Dotson's report on new Xbox 360 features that may allow iOS integration: "At Microsoft’s E3 press conference, they revealed an interesting new feature that will integrate smartphones and tablets to the Xbox 360. Called SmartGlass, this is designed to operate a second screen during games, movies, and TV shows. This means that hypothetically, a game could display a map on the tablet screen, or even integrate interactive game elements like maps and play-calling in sports games.

Read more about this latest innovation at 148Apps.com.

Our kids-centric site, GiggleApps, reviewed Give A Day HD, which, as reviewer Amy Solomon states, "is a thoughtful children’s book app that helps create discussions between children and their adults about the world bigger than their families, as this app brings the topic of less fortunate children to the attention of young readers. This app is also available as an app for iPhone as well and is also part of the PlayTales Reader application."

Read Amy's complete review at GiggleApps.com.

And finally, 148Apps.biz covered the big news that Google acquired iPad app QuickOffice. Writer Kevin Stout states, "Quickoffice, the mobile document editing software (that particularly handles documents from the Microsoft Office suite well), has been acquired by Google. Announced on Google’s official blog, Google plans to intergrate Quickoffice‘s technology in to their own Apps product suite."

Read Kevin's full post at 148Apps.biz.

Our week that was is now did and done. If you'd like to keep up with the latest reviews, news and contests, all you have to do is click the links to follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook. That wasn't so hard, was it? I didn't think so. See you next weekend, fellow chupacabras!

ESRB Unveils iPhone App

Posted by Brad Hilderbrand on December 16th, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

One of the tougher duties of a good parent is keeping track of all the ratings info on the games your kids want to buy. Now the ESRB, the body which rates all console and PC video games in the US, is making the process a bit easier for iPhone users. The newly released ESRB app allows users to take a picture of a game box and instantly have all the info about said game pulled up onscreen.

The new app will compare images of game boxes to those stored in its database and instantly pull up both the game's letter rating as well as a "ratings summary" which will spell out exactly why Death Dealers 2: More Death than Ever was rated M for Mature (spoiler alert: there's a whole lot of killing). This puts all the information right at the consumers fingertips on-demand, so before you pull the trigger to buy a new game for friends or loved ones you'll know exactly what you're getting into.

While the app requires a camera in order to search by photo, iPod and iPad users aren't left out in the cold, as you also have the option to search by game title. You can also filter by platform, so if you only want to know about the Xbox 360 or PS3 version of a game it's nice and easy to set.

We're very happy to see this app out in the wild, as the knowledge it provides will be a great help to parents and relatives who want to make responsible decisions before they buy a video game. We're all about informing and empowering consumers, and now ignorance will no longer be an excuse for buying games inappropriate for younger players. This is good for the industry, good for consumers and just all around a great thing for all parties involved.

[via Destructoid]