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Oculus Store joins IARC

With Oculus, IARC welcomes yet another important partner. The company announced in their blog that age ratings are mandatory for all products in the Oculus store, effective immediately.

“We’re committed to helping everyone on the Oculus platform make well-informed purchasing decisions. That’s why we are now utilizing the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) to give people trusted and familiar ratings for all Oculus experiences.”

For all new apps the IARC ratings are now an automatic component of the release process; developers of previously released products can add a rating until March 31, 2017. After this date, unrated products will be removed from the store. In Germany, the USK is monitoring the regional ratings in terms of their accuracy.

Oculus Store is the most recent IARC partner. Previous stores that incorporated the system are Google Play Store, Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Windows Store and Xbox Store. Negotiations with further storefronts are ongoing.

New General Policy Statement comes into force

Since January 1st 2017, the USK has a new General Policy Statement including updated deadlines. Publishers can now choose the following procedure deadlines for each procedure (Regular procedure, Statement procedure, Special procedure) separately:

1. Regular (within 20 working days)
2. Expedited (within 12 working days)
3. Ad hoc (within 5 working days)

The new cost order can be found here.

As from now, planned examination dates for regular procedures will be listed in the publisher section under “News”. Separate dates can be scheduled for ad hoc procedures in order to keep the short deadlines.

Note: the planning of procedures is the responsibility of the USK. Completion within these deadlines is guaranteed. A faster turnaround can be possible depending on the submission situation but cannot be guaranteed or arranged. It is not possible to submit for a procedure on a fixed date.  Decisive are the deadlines as stipulated in the General Policy Statement. In urgent case an expedited or ad hoc procedure is recommended.

Rating procedure dates 2017

The following dates are only vaild for standard procedures. Statement procedures will continue to take place on a weekly basis.

05.01. | 12.01. | 26.01. | 02.02. | 16.02. | 23.02. | 09.03. | 16.03. | 30.03. | 06.04. | 20.04. | 27.04. | 11.05. | 18.05. | 01.06. | 08.06. | 22.06. | 29.06. | 06.07. | 13.07. | 19.07. | 20.07. | 25.07. | 26.07. | 27.07. | 01.08. | 02.08. | 03.08. | 08.08. | 09.08. | 10.08. | 15.08. | 16.08. | 17.08. | 21.08. 

No rating procedures during gamescom between 22.-25.08.2017

31.08. | 14.09. | 28.09. | 12.10. | 26.10. | 09.11. | 23.11. | 07.12. | 21.12. 

USK is closed between 27.12.2017-01.01.2018

Microsoft now fully implemented into IARC

With the updated Xbox Store, the implementation of IARC ratings for Microsoft is now complete. In addition to mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs running Windows 8 or higher, the consoles Xbox 360 and Xbox One are now part of the international IARC system. Users can now find consistent age ratings with additional content descriptors worldwide and across all systems of the Microsoft product family, making it easier for all users to find age-appropriate apps and games. More information on IARC is available under www.usk.de/en/iarc or www.globalratings.com.

IARC is now available for Microsoft Windows Store

The international rating system welcomes yet another partner. The USK ratings generated through IARC are now visible on all Microsoft platforms running Windows 8 or higher.

PLEASE NOTE: The USK rating issued through IARC is only valid for the for the digitally-delivered games and apps on the officially licensed IARC platforms. It is not permitted to use the rating for the same game or app on a platform that has not licensed the IARC rating system. The USK can always update a rating if reviews triggered by internal routines or through external complaints proved that information given in the questionnaire was incomplete or incorrect. More information: www.usk.de/iarc or www.globalratings.com

If the game is also being released on a physical disc, it must be submitted for a USK rating via our classic rating procedure. A classic USK rating will always overrule a rating received via IARC. It is unchangeable, legally fully binding, not depending on the distribution channel and safe from being indexed in Germany. Also we recommend using this USK rating procedure if you are planning a marketing campaign prior to or after the launch of your product, to ensure that your communication features the correct USK label. You can obtain said rating using this link.

Nintendo eShop joins IARC

The IARC rating system enables developers to simultaneously obtain ratings for digitally delivered games from rating authorities from around the world, including USK in Germany.  IARC is currently deployed on the following licensed platforms:
1.            Nintendo eShop - NEW
2.            Google Play Store
3.            Firefox Marketplace

USK ratings using the IARC system are now available for free in the Google Play Store

Starting now, all apps to be published on the Google Play Store must be classified with the new IARC system. Prior to the release of a game or app developers use the IARC system as part of the on-boarding process to receive a worldwide coverage of age rating symbols. There are no costs involved for the developer and the process only takes a few minutes. The Mozilla Firefox Marketplace was the first platform to incorporate this new content rating system. IARC is only valid for licensed storefronts and not for media on data carriers. Retail games are still being issued using the standard USK classification method. More information can be found here and in our Publisher FAQs.

New costs structure – express examination also for statement procedures

Starting at May 6, 2013, the USK will adjust its cost order. Since the last adjustment took place 10 years ago it will now be updated shortly. From this point on it will also be possible to request an express examination for statement procedures. This will result in a guaranteed result and classification within 7 working days (as opposed to 15 working days without the express procedure). Please ensure to mark the respective field on the submission form in case you wish an express procedure. You can find the complete cost overview here.

Updated submission form and cost order changes

As of now, a new USK submission form which can be downloaded on www.usk.de is becoming effective for all submissions(direct link). Please submit regular procedures as well as gamescom contents with this form only.

Additionally, the cost order has been altered. A deficiency fixed rate has been introduced. This applies in case of severe technical defects that have not been communicated beforehand and which cause considerable time expenditure with respect to the review process, resulting in a 150 € fee. The test department will always inform you in the event of such technical flaws. In this regard you will also be briefed if and for what reason the deficiency fixed rate will incur.

Avoid problems by only submitting codes that do not contain any severe lockups or A-bugs that would obstruct a linear playthrough. All game modes, FMVs, voiceovers, sound effects, dialog options, weapons and their respective results and levels must be included.

For multiplayer modes the following applies:

The basic technical possibility to present the multiplayer mode must be given. A playable version of the multiplayer modes can be waived in case the publisher submits video material (at least 30 min.), a list of all game modes and features and the written confirmation that the hit visualization is identical to what can be observed in the single player mode.

If the features and/ or maps shown differ from the common pattern, the possibility to actively play these modes must be given (direct contact to the MP developer team, split screen, bot match, local host).

New General Policy Statement for age rating procedures valid from February 1st 2011

The USK Advisory Council, amongst others associated by the organizations of the computer and video game industry in Germany accommodating the USK (BIU and G.A.M.E.), passed the new General Policy Statement of the USK unanimously on December 10th  2010. These new principles result in some changes for the age rating procedures starting from February 1st.You will hereby be informed about the alterations most crucial to your company: 

Extension of the examination timeframe

The USK guarantees the adherence to the time limit within a maximum of 15 working days for normal procedures or a maximum of 7 working days for expedited procedures respectively, counting from the arrival of the submission together with the all applicable documents (including the functioning game code) until the USK notification. Of course we still endeavor the examination of your product as early as possible.

Email notification and deadline regarding the forwarding of the formal Classification Certificate issued by the Supreme Youth Protection Authorities (OLJB)

You will still be informed about the classification right after the examination process by the USK.

But instead of the usual fax, the contact person noted in the submission form will receive the notification via email using the stated address.

The formal Classification Certificate of the Supreme Youth Protection Authorities will also be forwarded to the email address stated in the submission form. It will be sent out automatically after the expiration of the period allowed for appeal (see Art. 13, 14, 15 of the new USK General Policy Statement). So in case you do not plan to appeal against the decision you can use the USK notification of the classification process as formally binding.

Consulting replaces preview ratings

The former possibility of a „preview rating“ has been omitted. Instead, the USK offers wide ranged consulting services independent from the actual examination process starting from February 1st on. Detailed information can be obtained here or by contacting Ruben Schwebe (schwebe--at--usk.de).

New order of procedure instances

The former instances will be shortened to three stages: the standard procedure, the appeals procedure and the appellate (second appeal) procedure of the Federal States. Therefore the former Advisory Council procedure, being the third of the four former instances, has been omitted. The applicant can still appeal against the age classification issued in the regular procedure. When planning to appeal against the decision of the appeals procedure, a renewed appeal needs to be directed to the associations of the computer and video game industry in Germany accommodating the USK, the BIU and G.A.M.E. In this case please refer to Olaf Wolters – Managing Director BIU (office--at--biu-online.de) or Claas Oehler – Officer for Regulatory Affairs G.A.M.E. (oehler--at--game-bundesverband.de). Always send a copy to schulz--at--usk.de.

Please note that the Permanent Representative of the Supreme Youth Protection Authorities of the Federal States can also appeal against the classification issued in the appeals procedure. If no further appeal has been made within 5 working days, the Classification Certificate will be forwarded to you.

For any questions regarding this subject feel free to contact us directly (Head of the Classification Department Christine Schulz, schulz--at--usk.de).

USK launches extensive consultancy service

The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) will be providing consultancy services for developers and publishers of computer and video games from February 1st 2011 on, independently from the official classification process. Therefore the client can incorporate aspects regarding youth protection relevant contents in Germany before and during the development process in a more considerate manner. Videos, gameplay material or concepts can be examined with respect to their youth protection relevance. The results of the consulting meetings have no influence on possible decisions of the age classification pursuant to the Children and Young Persons Protection Act. > more

USK offers youth protection for producers of online games

Despite the failure of the amendment to the Youth Media Protection State Agreement (JMStV), the USK will expand their field of activity in terms of online games from 2011 on. The USK proposals can help providers to conform effectively to the existing Youth Media Protection State Agreement. Anyone who is unsure whether their contents are in line with the existing statutory Regulations pursuant to the Youth Media Protection State Agreement and the Children and Young Persons Protection Act receives the necessary support when they receive the analysis of the current situation, the assumption of the role of Youth Protection Representative, as well as the evaluation of the contents. > more

Relaunch of area for games publishers at www.usk.de

With immediate effect, publishers of computer games can find all the information relevant to them in a comprehensive, newly designed area at www.usk.de. Under FAQs, the most important questions are answered, the services of the USK regarding age classification and evaluation of game content are explained for the different legal areas, graphic templates and other materials are available for download, and information services for publishers with respect to consulting and  the gamescom is provided.

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Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK)
Torstr. 6
10119 Berlin, Germany

Telephone: +49 30 240 8866 0
Fax: +49 30 240 8866 29

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Submission form

Here you can find the submission form for an age classification.

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