Oculus has made a bold step in curating and rating content that appears on the Oculus Store. The VR company announced that they have partnered with the International Age Rating Coalition in order to further comply with global rating standards and content curation policies regarding labeling age appropriate material.
The news comes from a post over on the official Oculus website, where they announced that they would be applying the new rating standard immediately, meaning that every single developer who has a game on the Oculus Store has until March 1st, 2017 to update their game using the new IARC questionnaire to have their game rated and approved, otherwise the game will be removed from the store.
They Oculus dev blog states…
“This change will make it easier for developers to get age and content ratings for your app from multiple territories simultaneously. It also provides consumers a consistent set of familiar and trusted ratings that reflect their own cultural norms regarding content and age-appropriateness.
“In order to give people consistent ratings no matter where they live, all titles in the Oculus Store must have IARC assigned ratings”
The IARC has been growing in stature over the past few years. They currently accommodate the ESRB, the Australians Ratings Board, the USK, PEGI and the Brazilian Ratings Classification. The official IARC affiliations are listed on the website, including the Nintendo eShop, Google Play store, the Windows Store and the Oculus Store.
The IARC was used previously by the Australian Classification Board in the infamous story where they banned 220 games during the summer of 2015, as reported by the Daily Mail. They used the IARC’s database to collect and ban these games without having to rely on individually rating and banning each game. If a similar method is used to ban VR games from the Oculus Store, then Australians may be in for a rough ride.
If you’re a developer too dense to understand how the questionnaire works or you’re a concerned parent wondering how this may affect content being made available on the Oculus Store for the Oculus Rift VR headset, they have a introductory video you can watch below to help you get up to date on how the IARC will be applied globally to games made available on the digital storefront.
If you need to apply for an IARC rating, you can do so by visiting the Oculus Dashboard and requesting an IARC certificate. The rating will automatically be applied to the regions where your game is sold after completing the questionnaire.