Apps Now Required to Have Content Ratings

Today we have a guest post from Kevin Ngo, one of the fine engineers on our Firefox Marketplace team. Via his personal blog, Kevin recently wrote about his experiences integrating the new International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system into Marketplace. This content rating system will help users more easily identify age appropriate apps.

Before we dive into Kevin’s mind, app developers please take note: April 15 is the deadline to get your content IARC rated or it will be removed from Firefox Marketplace! To learn more about the super simple process of obtaining your IARC rating, go here.

And with that, take it away, Kevin………

Our little webapp marketplace is growing up so quickly. Over the last past two and a half months, robhudson and I have been working with the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) to integrate their new IARC system into the Firefox Marketplace. IARC is a framework that unifies multiple age rating systems respective to different countries to make it simpler for content creators to obtain a content rating for their products.

For those not familiar with age-based content ratings, they are most popularly known for their use in games and movies, such as Rated M for Mature for Violence or Suitable for Ages 13 and Up. Firefox Marketplace has become the first app store to implement IARC, and as such it was a bit of a new experience for both parties.

For some background, Firefox OS launched in Brazil and Germany in late 2013. Brazil and Germany have strict and legal age rating requirements for digitally-distributed games, with laws requiring self-rating through an approved age rating system (i.e. CLASSIND for Brazil or USK for Germany). Our Marketplace, in order to list the games in those regions, had to display content ratings for those apps. Before implementing IARC, we built a temporary system that allowed our app reviewers to manually enter content ratings for individual games that were only applicable to Brazil and Germany. Now with IARC, developers can obtain content ratings on their own which are applicable to all regions.

Developers are led from Marketplace through an IARC portal where they can fill out a yes/no questionnaire that inquires about the content of their app (e.g. Does it contain violence?, Crude humor?). Although the app is self-rated, IARC will occasionally do spot-checks and manually update the rating. Marketplace app reviewers may also spot any inconsistencies between the app’s rating and content.

Upon filling out the form, developers are redirected back to Marketplace where their content rating will be registered to their app by both Marketplace and IARC. If the developer ever releases his app on another storefront, the rating would conveniently follow that product. When people visit their app’s details page on Marketplace, they’ll be able to read all about the its content rating.

We organized development in this Bugzilla tracking bug. Throughout development, ESRB has been very responsive with communication, in making sure our system was correctly implemented and in ironing out bugs on their side. Currently, the IARC supports the ESRB, PEGI, CLASSIND, and USK rating systems. More will likely follow.

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