App Store Changes 17+ Age Category for Improved Availability

August 23, 2019

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The app market is a global force, so developers often want their apps to be available in several different regions. Until recently, certain apps were unavailable in South Korea, due to age restrictions on content. To help with this, Apple has updated the criteria for age ratings on apps made available within the region. This allows apps with certain content to be available there. However, part of the change is impacting apps worldwide, whether or not they’re sold in South Korea.

Age Restrictions

According to Apple, apps that feature simulated gambling will receive a 17+ Rating Classification Number in all countries. Additionally, apps that meet certain criteria can be made available on the South Korean App Store for users 19 years old and above. Those criteria are:

  • "Apps in the Casino subcategory with age rating 17+
  • Apps in the Games or Entertainment categories with Frequent/Intense selected for at least one of the following content descriptions:

    • Simulated Gambling
    • Sexual Content or Nudity
    • Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or Reference
    • Realistic Violence"

An app only needs one of those aspects to receive the age rating. Developers of those apps must apply for a Rating Classification Number before they can be sold in Korea.

Upon confirmation, developers can enter their Rating Classification Number from the Game Rating and Administration Committee and be published within the coming week.

As per this change, any apps featuring “frequent/intense simulating gambling will be rated 17+ in all countries and regions.” Developers of apps with casino minigames should check their age rating and their positioning to ensure they’re targeting the right audience. As of August 20th, several gambling apps have had their ratings automatically updated to 17+ to reflect this new policy

Age Restrictions

Changing the age rating on an app can impact whether or not certain users are allowed to play it. Apple’s parental controls enable parents to choose what age range they want to allow their children access to – 4+, 9+, 12+, 17+, or “Allow All Apps.”

While casino apps are targeted at older audiences, this can also impact apps with other features or minigames that simulate gambling. For instance, a mobile game with a casino slots minigame may be impacted if it is found to provide “intense simulated gambling.”

Localization and ASO

This update will allow a wide range of apps to be available in a new territory. While that provides developers with opportunities to reach new users and compete in a new area, marketing an app in a new region takes more than simply translating the language and keeping everything else the same. Developers need to understand who their potential target audience is and run experiments to optimize for that.

Localization is an important aspect of App Store Optimization for apps being sold in multiple territories. For apps launching in new regions and new languages, this will require research and updates for several aspects:

  • Research keywords in that language and area to identify the most valuable relevant keywords to target. For instance, a driving navigation app will want to determine if “운전” or “박기” is a better keyword to focus on.
  • Identify what creative designs work best in the region. Local tastes will influence what designs are most appealing to users. Things like color choices, which aspects of the app to focus on in the screenshots, how the images should be laid out, and so forth can be very different in different regions, so localizing your creatives is a must.
  • Determine what key aspects of the app are most popular in that region. Users may be drawn more towards one of an app’s functions or elements, so focusing in the description can help improve clickthrough rates and conversions.

Developers can run A/B tests to determine what works best for their apps. Researching competitors with apps in the region can also help provide a good starting point to identify what designs or trends are currently working.

Whenever an app launches in a new region, developers need to localize and optimize for it. This can take as much time and research as an initial optimization, but the results are well worth it. Now that apps for users ages 17+ can be sold in South Korea, it’s time to optimize them for the area to make an impact.

Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.

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