Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Should App Store Games Need ESRB Ratings?

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In just a couple of years Apple's app store grew to 300,000 programs, the most popular category is the games.  Most of the games are created by people on their computers coding away, the major publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision have versions of their most popular games for the home consoles and portable systems available for purchase on the App store that can be played on any iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. This has made Apple the third giant of handheld gaming.

All the games are easily accessible, but maybe a little too accessible, and that can be a problem for parents who are looking to keep inappropriate games away from younger players. Parents have had the ratings system put in place and administrated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board to help parents make good choices about which games for home console, handheld systems and computer are appropriate for their children to play.  Games on the App store do not carry ESRB ratings, which does not give parents any kind of guidelines about the contents of App store games.

Reviewing and rating all the games on the App store by ESRB may be a task too big to be realistic, however when major franchise games from the big publishers such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed can be downloaded without any sort of age restriction, that's something that will need to be addressed and soon. While a credit card is required to set up an iTunes account, all games, apps and songs can downloaded with pre-paid cards regardless of content.

If Apple wants to be a player in the video game industry then they will have to demand ESRB ratings from the Major game publishers.  If not, game publishers as well as Apple itself can and will facing the legal reprisal from jurisdictions that mandate by law restricting the sales of games that carry the Mature rating to those over the age of seventeen.

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