Google has updated its policies for mobile games on the Google Play store to prevent kids from accessing inappropriate content.
The move follows recent reports that the company's decision to allow developers to rate their own titles was being abused. Apps carrying all-ages ratings were found to feature violence, gambling and other content that warrants more restrictive ratings on other stores.
In a post on its developer blog, Google said it is evolving its policies to "ensure that apps for children have appropriate content, show suitable ads and handle personally identifiable information correctly." It has also taken steps to "reduce the chance that apps not intended for children could unintentionally attract them."
All developers are now required to complete the new target audience and content section of the Google Play Console, a series of questions that will dictate whether the app is rated for children, children and older users, or older users only.
If apps are targeted at children, they must "follow our strictest Families policies" and ads served in these games must be both appropriate and served by an ads network that has already certified compliance with the Families policy.
If children are not part of the target audience, Google says developers must make sure no element of the game or promotional material might be seen as appealing to children.
In fact, the firm will "double check your app marketing" and demand adjustments when it deems necessary. Google has "increased our staffing and improved our communications for app review and appeals process" to ensure this is handled quickly.
The new target audience and content section is available to fill in now, and all new apps must comply with the updated policies. Existing apps have until September 1, 2019 to fill in the new section and ensure they also comply.