Welcome to Pixalate’s CTV & Mobile App Manual Reviews According to COPPA, a series containing the detailed factors the Trust & Safety Advisory Board educators used to assess an app’s child-directedness.
The educators manually review thousands of mobile apps available in the Google Play & Apple App Stores as well as connected TV (CTV) apps from the Roku Channel Store and Amazon Fire TV App Store using the COPPA Rule factors shown below & make those results available to the public at ratings.pixalate.com.
This post takes a look at a popular mobile app from both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Our reviewer discusses how the subjective factors set forth in the COPPA Rule apply to the app and factor into the reviewer's determination as to whether the app is child-directed or general audience (i.e., it is not targeting children).
The teacher will indicate the factors they relied upon in their assessment using the 10 factors shown below that reflect the 10 child-directed factors in the COPPA Rule.
Hogwarts Mystery is a game set in the Wizarding World that appeals to Harry Potter fans of all ages. New players are sorted into their Hogwarts Houses and can then attend classes, make friends, play quidditch, take care of magical creatures, and more. The game story is set before Harry heads to Hogwarts, meaning Harry, Ron, and Hermione do not appear in this game. However, other well-known characters such as Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Snape, Bill Weasley, and Tonks make appearances. While not celebrities per se, these popular characters are recognized and admired the same way a musician or athlete might be by both children and adults.
This app depicts an animated Hogwarts, including moving paintings, bubbling potions, and trees swaying in a breeze. The animation is a more realistic style that appeals to both adults and children. Users are able to customize their own avatar from a wide selection of skin tones, facial features, hair styles/colors, and clothing. While much of the game is focused on the user’s avatar, the background contains numerous animations and characters. The avatar and other student characters start out in Year 1 and progress school years through gameplay. This means that the user created main character in the app is only 11 years old upon the start of the game. The younger age of the characters would primarily appeal to children, while the animation and visual content of the app would appeal to adults and children alike.
Incentives are given as players progress through the game. Stars can be earned in classes, house points can be awarded by teachers, and courage/empathy/knowledge points are earned as tasks are completed in the game. This blended approach of incentives helps this game appeal to children and adults alike. Children are likely more motivated by physically receiving stars and house points, while adults might enjoy their character developing with the personality points. The enthusiastic animations when the character accomplishes a task are appealing to all ages and encourages the player to continue on with the next task.
Hogwarts Mystery is rated 12+ on the Apple App Store and Teen in the US Google Play store. However, the app is rated PEGI 7 in the European Google Play Stores. The reviews indicate that there are both adults and children playing this game. While the app description indicates that users must be over 13 to play, there is no age gate enforcing this upon downloading the game. In my experience working as an elementary school librarian, Harry Potter books and games were incredibly popular with the 3rd-5th grade students and a Harry Potter game, such as this, would be of high interest to them.
There are no ads within the normal gameplay of this app and one could potentially play this game without ever watching an advertisement. However, the option of watching ads is often given to earn more of the coins, diamonds, or energy needed to play the game. The advertisements shown are generally for other mixed-audience games that would appeal to both adults and children.
Screenshots of Hogwarts Mystery:
Pixalate’s Trust and Safety Advisory Board was created to bring in individuals with experience using child-directed apps in the classroom to review and assess which apps are child-directed. This manual review process serves to quality check Pixalate’s automated review process. See our full methodology for more information.
This blog post published by Pixalate is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice. By viewing this blog post, the reader understands and agrees that there is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in the applicable jurisdiction(s), and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning any specific situation. The content of this blog post reflects Pixalate's opinions with respect to factors that Pixalate believes may be useful to the digital media industry. Pixalate's opinions are just that, opinions, which means that they are neither facts nor guarantees; and this blog post is not intended to impugn the standing or reputation of any entity, person or app, but instead, to report findings pertaining to mobile and Connected TV (CTV) apps.
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Disclaimer: The content of this page reflects Pixalate’s opinions with respect to the factors that Pixalate believes can be useful to the digital media industry. Any proprietary data shared is grounded in Pixalate’s proprietary technology and analytics, which Pixalate is continuously evaluating and updating. Any references to outside sources should not be construed as endorsements. Pixalate’s opinions are just that - opinion, not facts or guarantees.
Per the MRC, “'Fraud' is not intended to represent fraud as defined in various laws, statutes and ordinances or as conventionally used in U.S. Court or other legal proceedings, but rather a custom definition strictly for advertising measurement purposes. Also per the MRC, “‘Invalid Traffic’ is defined generally as traffic that does not meet certain ad serving quality or completeness criteria, or otherwise does not represent legitimate ad traffic that should be included in measurement counts. Among the reasons why ad traffic may be deemed invalid is it is a result of non-human traffic (spiders, bots, etc.), or activity designed to produce fraudulent traffic.”