Oculus commits to IARC age & content ratings on its VR storefront
The folks at Oculus VR confirmed today that it will be using the International Age Rating Coalition (or IARC) age and content ratings systems for VR games and other experiences on its Oculus Store marketplace -- which means all devs with products in the Oculus Store must requisition IARC ratings for their work by March 1st or be delisted from the store.
This is kind of interesting because IARC got its start in 2013 and has so far been applied chiefly to non-VR games, which don't typically have to account for content that might cause someone to get physically nauseous or motion-sick. However, it seems to be getting up to speed quickly -- according to IARC, its rating system is already being used for all AR/VR apps running on the Microsoft HoloLens and Google Daydream headsets.
This is also a small but promising sign for Oculus developers concerned about the specter of having to pay fees in order to have their work content/age-rated and thus made eligible for sale.
That's been an ongoing concern for many indie devs who try to release their games on consoles in Europe and other markets, but balk at the prospect of paying PEGI (or the equivalent ratings agency) for a region-appropriate rating before they can launch.
IARC has been held up as a potential solution to this problem, because the IARC rating process is free to participate in (IARC makes money from charging license fees to storefronts) and results in appropriate ratings for the ESRB, PEGI, USK (in Germany) and other participating ratings boards.
It was originally created by the ESRB and the other agencies to help standardize game content & age ratings systems across regions and marketplaces. Currently, IARC is supported on storefronts like Google Play, the Nintendo eShop, and now the Oculus Store -- but not (yet) the PlayStation or Xbox marketplaces.