ESRB and CTIA join forces to bring ratings to mobile apps

Believe it or not, the ESRB is about to bring the game-rating fight from consoles and PCs to mobile phones. The video game self-regulatory organization has just announced that it’s joining forces with the CTIA Wireless Trade Association in order to start rating mobile applications.

This new rating system is set to debut in Washington D.C. on November 29th, though there aren’t any details about how it will actually work. Instead, we can expect a full explanation next week.

However, this much is certain: The new system will provide ratings based on age-appropriateness of their content. Of course, just how effective this new rating system will be remains to be seen.

The CTIA is an international organization representing the wireless communications industry, comprising various wireless carriers and content providers that advocates on behalf of these groups. However, it’s not exactly a governing body, so it remains to be seen which companies will actually choose to use this rating system.

Additionally, rating apps is a much taller order than rating retail (or digital marketplace) games, based on the sheer volume that are released for mobile devices. Seriously, stop and think about this for a second: In a given week, we’ll see an average of maybe a dozen titles on any one non-mobile system, so it’s easy to keep track of them and have them submitted for feedback and ratings. With mobile apps, though, there are dozens of new titles each day (and that’s a really slow day) across numerous app stores like iTunes and the Android Market. That’s a lot of content for even two groups to monitor.

Finally, while a universal app ratings system is definitely overdue, how will it handle apps like ComiXology, where the content is completely variable based on what you buy?

At the moment, we’re left with a lot of questions and no real answers, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the CTIA and ESRB are planning when they announce everything next week.

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