ESRB Introduced For Digital Distribution
The Entertainment Software Ratings Board - ESRB - did only rate such games that were distributed into physical retail. Now, there's a change of policy since they now also offer a "streamlined, no-cost service" for digitally distributed games. This includes channels such as Nintendo eShop, Playstation Network, WiiShop, Windows 8 and Xbox-Live. STEAM and iTunes don't seem to be a part of this right now as well as all those shops that offer Android apps. Further services such as gaming streams are said to follow.
The new rating process is described as "brief but detailed online questionnaire to assess not only a product's content and age-appropriateness, but also interactive elements, including the sharing of personal information or physical location and exposure to unfiltered user-generated content".
The last point is especially important. In combination with the new gaming situation that is created by smartphones and similar devices, new facts are addressed. Those being the information that are used by an app. Logically, this wasn't an issue with video games in the past. The corresponding icons (Shares Info, Shares Location and Users Interact) can be seen on the ESRB website where they are shown in the new category "Interactive Elements".
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