Earlier this year, Microsoft rolled out a new age rating system for apps in the Windows Store through the International Age Rating Coalition’s (IARC) rating system to streamline the approval process. A few months ago, the company started sending out emails to developers, warning them that if their apps - both public and private - have not been updated with new age ratings, they will removed by September 30, 2016.
With the aforementioned date almost upon us, and Microsoft showing no sign of leniency, it appears that we will be seeing quite a number of apps being removed from the Windows Store, starting tomorrow.
Previously, developers had to manually select age ratings from various regional age ratings authorities such as ESRB, PEGI and DJCTQ, when submitting their apps for approval in the Windows Store. In order to avoid this tedious process, Microsoft rolled out a more streamlined and simplified age rating system under the IARC which automatically generated ratings for PEGI, ESRB, ACB, USK and more.
When submitting their apps for approval, developers simply have to fill a questionnaire, which will consist of a series of questions inquiring about the app's category (Reference, Social Networking, Consumer, Game etc.) and if it contains crude language, sexual content, violence and horror elements or not. This questionnaire requires roughly 5-10 minutes to complete and is mostly based on multiple-choice questions.
While the new system is indeed a step forward in making age-appropriate content available in the Windows Store, many have claimed it to be a double-edged sword. A large number of apps in the Store have either been forgotten or abandoned by their respective developers - but numerous users still utilize them - and haven't been updated in quite some time.
Many of these developers might not have seen the emails sent regarding the age ratings of their apps and have them removed tomorrow, which would come as a huge blow to their customers. Keeping in mind that Microsoft hasn't updated its "669,000 apps in the Windows Store" statement since September 2015, this scenario probably doesn't bode well for that particular statistic. It is important to note that Microsoft won't be looking at the "quality" of apps during this removal process - which is an entirely different initiative - but simply whether they have updated age ratings or not.
Are you a developer with apps published in the Windows Store? Have you updated them with new age ratings yet? Let us know below!