You would think that implementing a parent-friendly app rating system that was blessed by both a video game watchdog group and a major wireless trade association would be the kind of thing that deserves a bit of fast-tracking, but there haven’t been many signs of progress in the nine months since the system was announced.
Well, that’s no longer the case — Verizon Wireless has just announced it now displays ESRB ratings for all the apps in its mobile storefront.
Here’s a quick refresher, just in case you’re not entirely up to speed on the situation. Last November, the CTIA Wireless Association announced that it had linked up with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (a group founded in 1994 to put labels and parent-friendly content summaries on video game boxes) to bring that same rating system to mobile apps.
You’d be forgiven if you forgot the ESRB/CTIA partnership was ever a real thing in the first place, considering how quiet nearly all of the avowed participants have been on the subject since that one day last autumn. Now that Verizon’s implementation of the ratings system has gone live (and joined Microsoft and T-Mobile in the process), the onus falls on AT&T Sprint, and U.S. Cellular to do the same.
For what it’s worth, Verizon seems to have gone above and beyond the call of duty here — as CTIA President Steve Largent noted at the announcement press conference way back when, participating partners would only need to ensure that new app submissions would get an ESRB-approved rating. Instead, Verizon has dug into its back catalog to make sure all of its apps have the appropriate ratings.
Still, getting wireless carriers in on the app ratings game seems like only half of a solution. I’m all for giving parents (and everyone, really) more insight into the sort of content that apps bring to the table, but big players like Google and Apple were notably absent when the time came to throw support behind the new ratings scheme.