Mobile game makers, take note: Google is shoring up its Google Play storefront by assigning every app in the store an age rating and requiring actual human beings to review app submissions before they're published.
Google Play product manager Eunice Kim outlined the changes today in an Android Developers Blog post, noting that Google began adding human app reviewers into the mix several months ago in an effort to "better protect the community and improve the app catalog" of Google Play by manually blocking submissions that violate the storefront's developer guidelines.
Google Play has historically been faster and easier for developers to publish to than Apple's App Store, due in large part to its automated app review process. Kim claims this won't change despite the fact that Google staff are now reviewing submissions, and posits that developers with rejected apps will now be better informed about why their work isn't up to snuff.
If you already have games on Google Play, you can now sign into Google's Developer Console and voluntarily complete a content questionnaire to have Google assign them a country-specific age rating -- ESRB in the U.S., PEGI in Europe, etc.
If you don't, your app will be marked as "Unrated" and therefore may be blocked by certain user filters or regional market restrictions. Moreover, starting in May Google will require developers to fill out the age rating questionnaire for every new app and app update submitted to the Play store.
Google Play still generates less revenue for developers than Apple's App Store, but the growth of the global Android market is helping to close the gap -- last October mobile analytics firm App Annie reported that Google Play was experiencing explosive growth, due primarily to Android game downloads in the U.S. and Asia.