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Australian ratings board looks ahead to App Store crackdown

It's not a done deal by any means, but the Australian government's Classification Board is taking a hard look at games for mobile devices, which up until now have skated by the country's regulatory requirements that mandate a pass for content and age-appropriateness -- at a cost to developers of hundreds or thousands of A$. By November, we should know for sure whether or not App Store developers will have to choose between paying to have their games rated or pulling them out of the Australian market.

This issue came up as long ago as October of last year, in response to the infamous BabyShaker app. Aussie devs Lloyd Kranzky and Nick Lowe have weighed in on their blogs, and raise some good points: although it's not necessarily a level playing field between the iDevices and other phones, and the console and PC games (which have been complying with the classification rules, in some cases leading to indie or casual/free games avoiding the Australian market), it's also not completely fair to lump mobile games in with the big boys when Flash games and other online content are completely free and clear of regulatory burden.

Another stat of note: back in 2007/08, the board reportedly classified under 1,000 video games -- a pittance compared to the thousands of games streaming out of the App Store and Android Market. It's unclear whether the regulatory infrastructure is even prepared to deal with the new order.

Here's a question for Mac, PC and console game developers: do Australian rules affect your decision-making when it comes to game releases, vs. the US industry-driven ESRB ratings system? Pipe up in the comments.

Thanks to Jarrod for sending this in.


[hat tip to Kotaku]

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