Which age ratings apply online?

In addition to the classification procedure according to the youth proection law, the USK also issues age ratings for online games and apps. This is done within the international IARC system (International Age Rating Coalition), which means that USK age ratings are available in all digital storefronts connected to this system.

Storefronts that adapted the IARC system include: Google Play Store, Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Windows Store, Xbox Store and the Oculus Store.

The providers of the individual games and apps go through a questionnaire provided by IARC from which the corresponding age rating results.

The International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) is an association of the various organisations responsible for the worldwide age rating of online games and apps. Since it was founded in 2013, IARC has provided a system that is integrated into digital game and app storefronts for youth protection purposes. This system enables the publishers of games and apps to classify their content using a questionnaire. This process results in an age rating in accordance with the requirements of the respective national self-regulation body (e.g. the USK for Germany).

The USK regularly reviews the IARC age ratings to assure their quality. User complaints also trigger reviews. The USK works with this system on the legal basis of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV), according to which the USK is recognized by the state as a self-regulatory body in both the telemedia and broadcasting sectors. Aspects of criminal law, copyright law and other areas of law are not taken into account. Age ratings under the Youth Protection Act (JuSchG) result from a separate classification procedure in which Permanent State Representatives issue the age ratings at the end of a joint USK procedure. These labels also differ visually from the IARC labels and are primarily used for games that are sold on disc in retail stores.