Help us get cheaper ratings in Australia

The Australian ratings board is currently looking for feedback and comments regarding their proposed changes to the pricing of ratings for books, games and films. As a small, independent, Australian games company we feel that there needs to be a new cheaper option for those of us making small budget, cheaper downloadable games.

If you feel the same way we encourage you to email the Australians rating board at: with your opinion.

Why does this matter to you?

If you enjoy playing DSiWare or WiiWare it is very important to you, particularly if you live in Australia. Currently the high cost of getting games rated means that developers, both local and overseas ones, will be less likely to release their titles here. The Australian DSiWare and WiiWare stores have notable gaps in their libraries where games developers, like ourselves, have found it too hard to justify the cost.

The current cost of rating here is about the same price as rating a disc based game in either Europe or the Americas. Whereas DSiWare and WiiWare titles in EU and US are both rated using much cheaper price brackets. This means that you have to sell significantly more games in Australia than you do Europe or the Americas to generate the same profit! This combined with the smaller market in Australia and you can understand why many find this cost off putting.

What are Nnooo doing to try to change this?

We have emailed the Australia Ratings board and are also trying to open up a dialogue with the GDAA (Games Developer Association Australia) to try to lobby for a cheaper ratings bracket for titles which cost less than AUS$200,000. We are also encouraging you to take part too.

If you care about getting treated the same as consumers in other countries and want systems like WiiWare and DSiWare in Australia to offer the same content as elsewhere we urge you to email with your opinions.

The following is a copy of the email I have sent to the Australian Ratings board.

Dear sir/madam,

Thank you for emailing us regarding your new proposed fee changes for Videogame ratings in Australia (pdf located here). I am pleased to see that overall fees have been reduced. However I would like to ask that you consider introducing a cheaper option for small, independent, downloadable titles.

We are an independently financed, Sydney based videogames company who specialise in making games for WiiWare and DSiWare which, as I am sure you know, sell downloadable games for the Wii and Nintendo DSi. The majority of these games are made with much smaller budgets than your normal disc based release, usually between AUS$15,000 and AU$50,000 and they sell from AUS$3.00 to AUS$15.00. As you can appreciate we sell our games internationally and both the ESRB and PEGI have a cheaper ratings option for these sorts of games, €250 or US$500 and considering the number of consumers we have available in the EU and US those prices are very low in comparison with Australia’s AUS$1,150 or AU$2,040.

Both PEGI and ESRB allow classifications at their cheaper brackets based on the cost of development for the title. In both systems videogames which are approx. US$/€200,000 or less are allowed to make use of the cheaper rating while titles which cost more use the normal full price ones.

It is, in my opinion, imperative that Australia adopt a similar practice if Australia wants to continue to allow consumers access to these new online downloadable stores. At present, on both WiiWare and DSiWare, games are often not released or released later due to the expense of gaining a rating versus the likelihood of generating enough profit just to cover the rating cost. As you can appreciate it puts Australian consumers in a situation where they feel like global second class citizens.

I have cc-ed Bruce Thomson, our Business Director and Antony Reed of the GDAA on this email in the hope we can open a dialogue about this situation. I would be more than happy to spend time with you discussing this matter in more detail and I am also going to add a copy of this email onto out news blog, to encourage our consumers to also get in contact with you in regards to this matter.

I would also like to point you to a longer piece I have posted in the past regarding this issue (An open letter to the OFLC (Australian Ratings Board). This contains slightly more detail than the above.

Thanks again.



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