If you buy a game for your PC or gaming console, it has a rating from the OFLC. Well, unless it's been refused classification because of our country's primitive classifications system, that is. But if you buy a game for your iPhone from the App Store, there's no such classification. Yet. Michael Bodey over at The Australian has discovered that the government is aware of this loophole and is planning on closing it very soon.
So why is it that the government has decided to apply the classification laws to smartphone games? Money.
Apparently it costs developers between $470 and $2040 for their games to be classified by the OFLC. Given that of the 220,000 odd apps in iTunes, it's estimated that about one-third of them are games. That means the government is missing out on somewhere between $34 million and $149 million in classification revenue.
The issue is expected to be addressed at the next SCAG meeting in November and will almost definitely end up in a major shakeup of the way games are distributed for smartphones. But the end result will ultimately be bad for the Australian consumer - developers are unlikely to want to shoulder that rating price-tag themselves, so the days of games being between that magical free to $2 price range are almost definitely gone. Not to mention overseas developers making the decision to skip the Aussie market to avoid paying the classification cost...
Then there's the issue of Apple's own censorship regime and how it will work with the OFLC.
No matter what happens, this is going to be an ugly situation that we haven't heard the last of.
[The Australian - Thanks Matt and Robert!]