The partnership between Oculus and IARC could lead to a more consistent, reputable age rating system for Oculus games and apps, no matter where you live.
Virtual reality developers making games and apps for the Oculus Rift VR headset will now have an easier time getting their content age-rated thanks to a partnership between Oculus and the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC), the headset-maker announced in a blog post.
The IARC is a global standard for age-rating games and other software that cooperates with region-specific ratings organizations, such as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in the United States, to assign ratings to individual games within those systems. The IARC reportedly streamlines the process, providing developers with a questionnaire and assigning a separate rating for each territory where the game will be released.
All past and future Oculus Rift content will be required to go through IARC certification effective immediately, Oculus said. Developers submitting games from here on in will be met with a prompt to begin the rating process, while developers with existing Rift content must complete the process through the Oculus Dashboard by March 1 this year.
The questionnaire apparently must be completed in an hour or less and costs nothing for developers, which does indeed sound both faster and cheaper than going through individual ratings processes for multiple territories around the world.
One thing that remains unclear is how exactly ratings are enforced when they’re assigned algorithmically and there’s seemingly nothing stopping developers from misrepresenting their content. A graphic on the IARC’s website explains that ratings accuracy is monitored by “regional IARC authorities” and that “corrections, if needed, are implemented promptly.” A glance at the YouTube comments, however, reveals that there’s plenty of distrust among users surrounding this largely automated system, at the very least.
Still, given that Oculus joins the likes of Google, Nintendo and Microsoft in using the IARC process for digital content ratings, one assumes the system works as intended.