Australia Might Lose Many IPhone, Mobile Games

Australia's lack of an adults-only rating is a tricky issue, one in which there's really no longer any "villain". A new move that could threaten mobile games in the country, though, is a little more sinister.

The federal government is seriously considering forcing the developers of small mobile games to submit their titles to the Classification Board (the Australian ESRB) so that they can be rated. At first glance, this makes a rough kind of sense; mobile games are still games, and the government feels that if bigger titles have to be rated for their content, smaller ones should too.

But the kicker is that rating a game isn't cheap. It can cost between AUD$470-$2040 to submit a game to the Classification Board, which for a tiny indie or solo developer from Australia (and let's face it, that's who most iPhone developers are) can at best be a severe strain on their finances, and at worst make it not worth the effort of releasing a game. For international developers, it'll have the same result; only the biggest games will bother, or be able to afford, to get their games rated, leaving Aussie mobile gamers out in the cold.

The fact mobile games don't need a rating is a loophole in the current system, one that the government was alerted to last year by the Classification Board. The decision on whether to implement the ratings - just like the decision to implement an adults-only rating for bigger games - now rests with Australia's state Attorneys General, who have until November to decide on what to do next.

Hopefully someone can talk some common sense into them, and show them that the completionist allure of rating all games isn't worth the damage it'll do to small-time developers.

Fears smartphone game apps could get the chop in Australia [SMH]


    Hope they don't go crazy. Otherwise I suppose I'll just have to use my US or Japan accounts...!

    Eugh, IPhone.

    $2040AU? Thats ridiculous! Even $470 is likely more than most indie developers earn on the apps they release. Something needs to be done about our classification system and fast.

      Regardless of the system, it would probably attract a huge fee anyway. If anything, they should reduce it greatly for (Indie) developers.

    Just to point out, the Classifications Board is a government body making legally binding decisions, which is a very different role than the ESRB has in the US. The ESRB is an industry-sponsored consortium that is only ever making recommendations, not legal decisions.

    One wonders how long it'll take the bright-sparks down at the board to realise that the Internet is media also and so if its the government's business to classify all media that comes into the country that they'll have to do the work of classifying websites too! Regardless of this, adding the App Store to their classification duties will smash their current workloads... I don't see how they will be able to cope with it, honestly.

      The amount they charge to classify something... it would be easy for them to hire new people if there was a dramatic increase in classification requests. Censorship in Australia is stuck back in time with the Cold War. The good news is old people die so they can't keep a stranglehold on the country moving forward forever.

        In return when *our* kids want the cool new dangerous thing we can hold them back, safe in the knowledge that *we* know how to move forward.

      "One wonders how long it’ll take the bright-sparks down at the board to realise that the Internet is media also and so if its the government’s business to classify all media that comes into the country that they’ll have to do the work of classifying websites too!"

      That's more or less what will happen if we let the hell that is Internet 2.0 through.

      "One wonders how long it’ll take the bright-sparks down at the board to realise that the Internet is media also and so if its the government’s business to classify all media that comes into the country that they’ll have to do the work of classifying websites too!"

      ....Ummm you know Labors proposed internet filter.... the one we think is an incredibly bad idea..... they will be looking at reported pages and if they don't like it (decide they think it should be Refused Classification) on their blacklist it goes.

        Yes, I know all about the proposed filter. And I've written a lot about it in various places before. But RC and classified are actually two different things. Which is another reason our rating system is so utterly broken. I'm talking more about things like game trailers, for example, that would/should be rated MA15+ for violence, let's say. They aren't rated by the Australian board--though they should be, technically. Not banned (RC) but rated... Not that I agree with this, just doing the logic.

        As for the comment above about making more money by receiving more submissions leading to a larger ratings board, that would probably make the Review Board a larger organisation than the ATO. I hardly think that's likely, mostly because I don't think the small app developers are going to pay. They'll just forget about Australia and we'll become even more backwater than we already are.

    And now we have to trust out attorney generals to make a decision in our best interest...
    Could just end up like the R-18+ rating. Endless delayed due to them not being able to find a community with appropriate views for their community consultation.

    It's ridiculous. I can see the app store in Australia just withering down to nothing, because a) small devs from other countries aren't going to bother getting their game rated for 1 region.
    b) People making their first game or so aren't going to want to anymore
    and c) We probably won't see as many free apps because it's just too expensive to give away.

    -sigh- Anybody have ideas of what country I should move to?

    I have a feeling apple have enough power to prevent this from happening.

      Funny that, just because Apple minions can be swayed that easily, I dont think the government can be.
      Especially when it comes down to money.

    It would be good if the government could do something to SUPPORT the industry instead of screw it over al weaken it all the time. I see this as possibly having severe repercussions in an already weak local industry.

    Just e-mailed my attorney general about this, hope it has some sort of effect.

    But, to ease everyone's mind about living in Australia... Newsweek has declared that we are the 4th best country in the world, and the best non-European country! WOOO!


      Was a good year.

    Always good to see a publication like The Age talk about the video game industry - they had an article about small/indie game devs being put under the pump if the Fed. Government goes through with the decision.

    aaaah governments, they were put in place for the people and now they just screw the people.

    For those who want to see this in effect already, take a look at the AU DSi or WiiWare stores. The reason why Europe is getting many more games than Australia every week is exactly this - it's simply not cost effective for these developers to release these small games in such a tiny market like Australia.

    On the plus side, it might keep people from buying iPhones.

    It seems to be mainly the price that people are concerned about, not the fact that they would be implementing a classification system.

    It makes me wonder why they need to pay for such a thing anyway.

    I mean, it's a Government legislation, so shouldn't the Government pay for it?

    After all, the money the developers have to pay for these could be better spent on development costs, thus improving the game and (potentially) improving sales.

    And the better the sales, the more money the developers and the Government can get in return, and hey, everybody's happy!

    But we all know that we don't live in a world like that... :/ *Sigh*

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