Ensuring your Windows 8 Game Passes Certification

Support for PEGI and other ratings systems is an important part of the Windows Store.



PEGI and game age rating should be of interest to anyone who is distributing creating games that they have made.

If you are developing games and uploading them to any store for people to play then you should know what content fits into what rating category, and I hope the following information will give you some further details and confirmation to ensure your game passes certification for the Windows 8 store.

One of the key requirement for games is the type of content an app contains.

A number of UK Students games fail simply because they upload them to all the Windows Stores but  many countries such as Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil, and Korea, have consumer protection laws in place that require games to obtain and display an appropriate content rating.

Before you Submit/Publish

The first thing you should do is to identify the markets where you want to sell your game?

From there, you need to identify which ratings systems are required for each of those markets Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil, and Korea, have consumer protection laws in place that require games to obtain and display an appropriate content rating so to publish to any of these markets you will need to obtain a valid certificate (This takes time and extra Money in some cases)

Pick a suitable Windows Store age rating

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 rating 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.

Please Note: You don't need ESRB and PEGI certification for general games simply use the rating guidance below in your game submission.

3+ (Suitable for young children)
These apps are appropriate for young children, and intended for their use. 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 intended to be used by 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 content
Content 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 rating board, you must select the Windows Store age rating that corresponds to that rating.

What if you app fails?

If you’re new to getting a content rating errors from your submission use the following resource to confirm the reason of the failure Windows Store Certification Requirements (you can check any failure reports to confirm specific issues) The latest revision (11/12/12) of the cert requirements are at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh694083.aspx

How do you get certification?

Please Note: You don't need certification for general games see the standard age rating above.

The process for getting a content rating varies from system to system, ESRB and PEGI have online tools that can identify your app’s rating within minutes. Other systems, like CSRR, allow you to select the rating yourself.

After you obtain the ratings certificates for your app, use our GDFMaker tool to create a GDF file and include it as part of your app package. We use the GDF file to customize which ratings to show in your app’s listing page.

Please NOTE: If your app’s rating doesn’t meet the legal requirements of a given market, or if its content rating is incorrect, we may be required to remove it from the Store.

More resources and references

Check out the Dev Center for more info on content ratings and Windows game publishing requirements.

Tracking the Progress of your app/game submission

You can track your app's progress from your Dashboard.

I hope this this helps ensure, you get your games successfully published to the Windows store.

Comments (1)

  1. Lee Stott says:

    See the following blog blogs.windows.com/…/tips-for-submitting-apps-in-markets-that-require-an-age-rating.aspx which provides a comprehensive set of tips to ensure your app passes age certification requirements.

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