Age ratings and rating boards

Applies to Windows only

To publish an app in the Windows Store, you must give it an appropriate age rating. Some countries and regions require that you also rate your app through a specific ratings board.

Windows Store age ratings

Here are the age ratings used in the Windows Store and a general description of the content that such an app could have.

Age ratingDescription
3+ (Suitable for young children)These apps are appropriate for young children. There may be minimal comic violence in non-realistic, cartoon form. Characters should not resemble or be associated with real life characters. There should be no content that could be frightening, and there should be no nudity or references to sexual or criminal activity. Apps with this age rating also cannot enable features that could access content or functionality unsuitable for young children, such as uncontrolled online sharing of information (such as that described under the 12+ ratings category).
7+ (Suitable for ages 7 and older)Apps with this age rating have the same criteria as the 3+ applications, except these apps can include content that might frighten a younger audience and can contain partial nudity, as long as the nudity doesn't refer to sexual activity. This rating should only be used for apps appropriate for children.
12+ (Suitable for ages 12 and older)Choose this rating if you are not sure which age rating to select for your app. Apps with this age rating can contain increased nudity of a non-sexual nature, slightly graphic violence towards non-realistic characters, or non-graphic violence towards realistic human or animal characters. This age rating might also include profanity, but not of a sexual nature. Also, apps with this age rating or higher may allow for uncontrolled: (i) access to online social networks, or (ii) sharing of personal info with third parties, including other gamers or online acquaintances. (For such activity to be considered controlled, your app must include parental control features that require parental permission to use such sharing features, and you must identify those and explain their functionality in the Notes to testers.)
16+ (Suitable for ages 16 and older)Apps with this age rating can depict realistic violence with minimal blood, and they can depict sexual activity. They can also contain drug or tobacco use and criminal activities, and more profanity than would be allowed in a 12+ app, within the limits laid out in section 5 of the certification requirements.
18+ (Suitable for adults)Apps with this age rating may contain intense, gross or specific violence, blood or gore which is only appropriate for an adult audience, in addition to content that is appropriate for a 16+ app.
Adult contentContent that is intended for adults-only audiences, and apps that have received an adults-only rating by a ratings board, cannot be listed or sold in the Windows Store unless the app is a game, is rated by a third party ratings board, and otherwise complies with the certification requirements.

 

When thinking about age ratings, make sure to consider the following:

  • The content that your app provides. Remember, this content could be both stored locally with your app, or accessed from external sources, such as through an Internet connection.
  • The images that might appear when a user opens your app.
  • Any services or features that your app connects to that may have additional age requirements, such as an age minimum.

If you can't decide between two age ratings, or if your app has content that is suitable for different age groups, choose the strictest age requirement. For example, if you have an app with content that is appropriate for audiences who are 12 years old or older, but it uses an account on a service that requires members be 16 years old or older, your Windows Store age rating would be 16+.

If you obtain an age rating for your app from a ratings board, you must select the Windows Store age rating that corresponds to that rating.

Ratings boards for Windows Store apps

Some countries and regions require that you rate your app through a ratings board, particularly if it is a game. (Note that the app’s purpose, rather than its listing category in the Windows Store, determines whether it is a game for this requirement.)

Important  To use an age rating from a ratings board, you must upload an XML-formatted data file called a game definition file (GDF). For more info about the GDF syntax and tools, see Creating a GDF file and Obtaining a game rating certificate.

When you obtain a rating from one of these ratings boards, you will be able to submit the required certificates in the Ratings step of the app submission process. Once your app is published, your app's listing will show this rating to customers in the region to which the rating applies. You must also select the Windows Store age rating level that corresponds to your rating certificate. See certification requirement 6.2 for more details.

Here are the rating boards supported by the Windows Store.

SystemCountry/RegionProcessRequired for games?
ESRB—Entertainment Software Rating BoardUnited StatesOnline formNo
PEGI—Pan European Game InformationEuropeOnline formNo
CSRR—Computer Software Rating Regulation

Note  The Chinese version of these regulations take precedence over any translated versions.

TaiwanSelf-ratingYes
DJCTQ—Departamento de Justiça, Classificação, Títulos e QualificaçãoBrazilSubmission (or self-rating, if you already have a PEGI or ESRB rating)Yes
GRB—Game Rating BoardKoreaSubmissionYes
FPB—Film and Publication BoardSouth AfricaSubmissionNo
USK—Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (Entertainment Software Self-Regulation)GermanySubmissionNo
CERO—Computer Entertainment Rating OrganizationJapanSubmissionNo
COB—Classification Operations BoardAustraliaSubmissionNo
OFLC-NZ—Office of Film and Literature ClassificationNew ZealandSubmissionNo
PCBP—Russian Age Rating SystemRussiaSelf-rating (based on PEGI)Yes

 

Ratings boards which use an online form or a self-rating process tend to work very quickly; ratings boards which require you to submit your app for review usually take longer (often several weeks). For more information on the processes, times, and any fees charged, visit the website for each specific ratings board.

Note  It is your responsibility to meet any local legal requirements for age ratings, even if those requirements aren't listed here or in the Windows Store Dashboard.

Related topics

Creating a GDF file
Obtaining a game rating certificate
How your app appears in the Windows Store
App certification requirements for the Windows Store

 

 

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