Google Tightens Play Store Policies For Loot Boxes And Advertising To Children

Published: May 31, 2019 3:45 PM /



Google has announced new guidelines for games and apps aimed at children. Developers that publish apps on the Google Play store will now be required to disclose if children are part of their intended audience, and if so, are subject to the additional ad and in-app purchase scrutiny.

Most notably, any game with loot boxes must now “clearly disclose the odds of receiving those items in advance of purchase." This comes during a time when various governments are proposing and passing legislation regulating loot boxes. If a game is designed for children, it is also now required to use one of Google Play’s certified ad networks to prevent inappropriate content from ads. The ads shown will be in line with the ESRB rating, and Google notes that apps that “are rated ESRB Everyone but contain ads for gambling content” would be ineligible for being marked for children.

google play age dashboard

“These policy changes build on our existing efforts to ensure that apps for children have appropriate content, show suitable ads, and handle personally identifiable information correctly; they also reduce the chance that apps not intended for children could unintentionally attract them.

Over the next few months, we will continue to roll out additional features that will help parents make informed choices before they install apps for their kids.”

In this update, Google has also outright banned any app that does not perform some minimum level of functionality, such as apps that exist simply to show that you paid a certain amount of money. Under the new guidelines, “Status symbol apps that are designed to do nothing or have no function” are prohibited.

Starting today, Google will have the form to note the target audience and content for new apps. All new apps are required to provide this information, and all existing apps must submit this information by September 1.

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I've been a lover of video games, writing, and technology for as long as I remember. I have a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana… More about John