It's no secret that video game classification in Australia is a protracted process, replete with numerous archaic processes and bureaucracy. But things are changing. Use of the International Age Rating Coalition's questionnaire has reduced the incredible burden on the Classification Board. Now we're seeing changes that will affect how DLC is classified in Australia.
Or not classified as the case may be. New legislation put into effect this month allows slight changes to video games, via updates or mods, to go ahead without re-classification.
It also covers a vast amount of new DLC released by publishers.
According to instructions from the Classification Board, adding the following does not require re-classification:
— Patches or updates that fix security vulnerabilities, compatibility problems or bugs. — Graphics enhancements. — Format changes. — Additions of songs, characters, weapons, costumes, skins or vehicles. — Additions of environments, levels, missions, storylines or modes (even if these affect the overall difficulty or setting of the game).
The general rule of thumb seems to be this: if new content being added doesn't affect the classification board's rating, there's no need to re-classify the game.
The exceptions are...
— Patches or updates that give access to previously hidden content that is likely to change the game’s classification. — A remake of a simple game with vastly improved graphics that means the modified game is unrecognisable from the original. — Additions of items or environments that completely change the general way a player interacts with a game. — A game that has the same or similar characters, settings and plot as the original but can be played as a standalone game.
An example I found helpful was Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. Technically an update, but really works as a new standalone game. It also features new content that might change the original game's classification. That might need to go through a re-classification.
New raids for Destiny on the other hand? That most likely wouldn't require re-classification.
It feels like a far more common sense solution to issues that are only going to become more relevant as games like Destiny — which are essentially continually evolving services — become more prevalent.
This feels like a well considered and timely change.