I often think of age restrictions in, this is for adults only & this is for everyone however Microsoft has a far more complex view of the world:
- 3+: Suitable for young child (three or above)
- 7+: Suitable for ages 7 and older
- 12+: Suitable for ages 12 and older
- 16+: Suitable for ages 16 and older
- Finally Adult Only apps
Adult only apps are not allowed in the store – so we are only going to focus on the four other categories. The obvious aspect of ratings is content is a major influencer so for example at 3+ the content guideline is
These applications are considered appropriate for young children. 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
While at 16+:
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
None of that should be any surprise to any developer and just a bit of reading when you submit should keep you out of trouble.
The ratings have a second role, controlling what can & can’t be used! It is not until you reach 12+ can you access to online services, of personal information, or enable features such as microphones or webcams. This can get you into a bit of trouble when submitting.
My experience is that obvious online access is heavily controlled but I do have apps on 3+ that do access services (such as to load pictures). There is also nothing stopping your app on a technical level with these so it is something of an honour system which is maintained by the content review phase of submitting.
For more posts in this series, see the series index.