Google just introduced a few changes to the Play Store that should lead to a better user experience. The biggest news is the addition of a team of reviewers that will manually approve every app before it’s published to the Play Store. But there’s an important user-facing change as well: age-based ratings.
Just like movies and videogames, apps in the Play Store will feature a rating designed to show what age group they are suitable for, ranging from everyone to adults-only. In order to accommodate the different rating systems from around the world, as well as the different interpretations of “appropriate,” Google will use the standards of age-rating organizations like the North American Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) or the European Pan-European Game Information (PEGI). In countries without an established standard, apps will feature a generic age rating.
Developers of existing apps will be asked to fill out questionnaires in order to determine what category their apps belong to. This process is, according to Google, “quick, automated, and free.” Our Gary Sims, who is a part time dev, received his email minutes ago, and you can read it by clicking on the press release button at the end of this post.
Apps that are not self-rated will show an “Unrated” tag, and they may not be shown to all users. Starting from May, filling out the questionnaire will be mandatory for all new apps and new updates to existing apps.
This is yet another move by Google to make the Play Store safer for users of all ages, following the highlighting of free apps that offer in-app purchases. The Play Store is now in line with Apple’s App Store, which has featured age-based ratings for a while.
It’s worth nothing that Google seems to be trying to better cater to children – YouTube Kids, introduced last month, offers a special version of the massively popular video service just for kids, and Google said more apps in the same vein are in the pipeline. Content designed for children is one of the fastest categories on YouTube and it’s safe to say that the same holds true for apps in the Play Store.
Hello Google Play Developer,
To help consumers make more informed choices about their purchases on Google Play, we’re introducing a new age-based rating system for apps and games consistent with industry best practices. This initiative gives you an easy way to communicate familiar and locally relevant content ratings to your users and helps improve app engagement by targeting the right audience for your content.
Starting now, you can complete a content rating questionnaire for each of your apps and games to receive the objective content ratings. Google Play’s new rating system includes official ratings from the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) and its participating bodies, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Pan-European Game Information (PEGI), Australian Classification Board, Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) and Classificação Indicativa (ClassInd). Territories not covered by a specific ratings authority will display an age-based, generic rating. The process is quick, automated and free to developers. In the coming weeks, consumers worldwide will begin to see these new Google Play ratings in their local markets.
On your apps’ questionnaires, make sure to provide accurate responses to help your app be discovered by the right audience. Once you’ve successfully received a rating for your app(s), you’ll only need to retake an app’s questionnaire if an update changes the content of the app in a way that impacts its rating. Learn more about rating your apps
To help maintain your apps’ availability on Google Play, sign in to the Google Play Developer Console and complete the new rating questionnaire for each of your apps. Apps without completed rating questionnaires will be marked as “Unrated.” Unrated apps may be blocked in certain territories or for specific users. In addition, all new apps and updates to existing apps will require a completed questionnaire before they can be published on the Play Store. Your compliance and participation with the new app ratings system is required under the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement. In the future, apps that aren’t rated using the new rating system may be removed from the Play Store.
Thanks for your continued support of Google Play,
Google Play Developer Support