Mobile Games to Receive ESRB Ratings

Six major app storefronts are on board, including the largest US carriers and Microsoft, but the App Store and Android Marketplace are out for now.

The ESRB and international wireless organization CITA have announced they're moving forward with a ratings system for mobile games. The ratings will be closely patterned after the ESRB's efforts with home console and PC titles, including the familiar line of classification icons.

The process will function like a more streamlined version of the methods the ESRB currently uses to rate games, with developers submitting a questionnaire covering objectionable content, as well as whether geolocation data will be shared with other users or third parties. Unlike current ESRB practice, the application will be returned within seconds via automation, though representatives will routinely spot check popular apps and track consumer complaints to ensure that the ratings remain appropriate.

The service will be launching with the support of six wireless storefronts: AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. According to the ESRB, this lineup only represents an initial batch of founders, as other distributors have already expressed an interest in joining down the line.

Hopefully those interested parties include Apple's App Store and Google's Android Marketplace, as it'll be hard for the ratings system to make serious headway without the backing of those two industry leaders. Both companies currently provide their own age guidelines, but a more standardized and ubiquitous approach might prove to be the healthier strategy in the long run.