News Article

Nnooo: Australian Ratings System Prevents Indies From Releasing Games Down Under

Posted by Andy Green

The studio calls for a self-rated, no-fee model

Australian Wii U owners are often frustrated when they do not receive games other Western nations do. Despite being a PAL region, games don't always make it Down Under as we've seen very recently with the news that Fast & Furious: Showdown will be not be made available.

That game is published by Activision, which has decided against releasing three other Wii U titles in Australia - 007 Legends, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct and The Amazing Spider-Man Ultimate Edition.

It's a similar situation for downloadable games too. Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition for example was a launch title when the Wii U was released - but not in Australia where the game is still unavailable.

In an interview with Vooks, Bruce Thomson, Business and Marketing Director at Australian developer Nnooo - the studio behind titles such as escapeVektor and Spirit Hunters Inc - said a lot of the problems stem from the expensive ratings system Down Under.

We can sell a game in the Americas (with a population of about 1 billion) for no ratings fees, in Europe (with a population of over 700 million) for 500 Euros per platform and in Australia (23 million) for AUS$430, considering that only 2 percent of our revenue comes from Australian sales you can see how ridiculous this is.

It's definitely plausible that many games companies decide against releasing in Australia after seeing the high price and weighing up the value of it. This doesn't particularly do the industry any good and it certainly doesn't help your average Australian gamer.

Nnooo believes changes need to be put in place, primarily to help the indie developers release content in the country:

Changing the current classification system in Australia to a self-rated, no-fee model like the one operated by the ESRB would be a big help for small devs like us where every dollar counts.

The current Australian ratings system increases the cost of making games for the Australian market and prevents many small developers from releasing their titles here.

What do you think of this, Australia? Do you think the Austalian ratings board is stopping games from making it over, or is there another reason? Let us know in the comments section below.

[via vooks.net]

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User Comments (33)

SuperKMx

#1

SuperKMx said:

A piddly fee of $430 AUD shouldn't stop you from releasing your game to a market of some 23 million people. This is an absolutely ridiculous excuse, if you ask me.

If you don't think you're going to make a profit because of one-time outlay of $430 AUD after ploughing many times that into development, then I don't think you're doing it right. At the very least, you should take the hit on the ratings fee in order to bring Australian (and let's not forget New Zealanders - another 4.4million people) folks into your fanbase.

Ndayday

#2

Ndayday said:

You're assuming that the entire population is buying the game. Likewise 1 billion Americans aren't buying these games.

Grubdog

#3

Grubdog said:

Ken, the fee is small, but it's still larger than the amount of sales the game will get here. 23 million people means nothing when less than 100 people buy your game on the eShop. Small developers don't have the luxury of this "piddly" risk.

Plus, most of us have learned to buy from the European eShop by now. The fee may be piddly but it's the catalyst that started all this. My question is, what the hell do we do about it? Why doesn't the government care, are they just too dumb to recognise the benefits of having a healthy market?

GumbyX84

#4

GumbyX84 said:

@Ndayday Agreed. Unless you can guarantee that they will be able to recoup that fee, then don't complain. It sucks that they don't get the game, but small devs can't afford to bring games over.

Grubdog

#5

Grubdog said:

What's also strange is Mighty Switch Force HD has been rated a few weeks ago, and still no sign of it. It took Trine 2 about a month after being rated to arrive here too. There's a general wave of incompetence at the OFLC that seems to be the bigger problem.

RetroGBHippie92

#9

RetroGBHippie92 said:

I've been thinking about this problem for ages, literally. Why do smaller nations HAVE to pay more? is it just that the classifications boards think they won't make enough money? Hey think about it, if they'd lower the price of classification, that'd mean more games being localised here, meaning more choice, happier gamers, more advertising dollars (perhaps?? I mean seriously nintendo never advertises any products here). I don't really know, I'm just guessing, but at the moment or really should I say, for the last 5-10 years, nobody BUT Nintendo has managed to fail to impress me on the advertisement side of things, I mean the Wii comes out (1-2 commercials of it's release), the 3DS arrives (barely even one commericial, maybe two or three), then the WiiU (???????????). Come on, if the classifcations boards stop charging viciously up the wall for classifying games, then we'd have more choice and not have to import our games from Europe. I'm done here, but seriously nothing's changed in 10 years, believe me I thought after Australia getting changes to it's system we'd also get some bonuses out of it, but seems like both countries have lucked out, poor us....

Tmdean

#10

Tmdean said:

Why can't they just use the ESRB ratings? I understand that ratings can be useful to parents, but there's no reason for every single country to have their own ratings system when they all measure basically the same thing! That's the stupidest part of all of this.

DarkCoolEdge

#11

DarkCoolEdge said:

@KenB how many 3ds have been sold in Australia? Out of those, how many use the eshop?
If you have a 8$ game and you get 5 of those 8, you'll need to sell at least 86 games just to break even with the OFCL costs.

They are not charity, they need to earn money. As easy as that.

ThreadShadow

#12

ThreadShadow said:

Speaking of the ESRB. They have become quite lax with their new digital-only games policy. Digital-only games for the most part get only descriptors and not summaries.
Lack of man power? Okay, but please at least give "T" and "M" rated digital-only games summaries as well as descriptors!

hydeks

#13

hydeks said:

yay, sorry KenB, I gotta agree everyone else on this one. It's a shame that this is a big case to why Australians don't get games, and it really is stupid, but there in the business of making money, not breaking even, or worse. I think Australia's rating board needs to be more lenient on there fee, what their charging is too much.

Mortenb

#14

Mortenb said:

Why is there a ratings board in the first place? I guess because people in general do not take offence when similar things happen to almost all industries, but are to blind to see that their not doing anything then (and some times even demanding such regulations and taxes/fees for 'the others') is presisely why this can happen.

TheAdza

#15

TheAdza said:

The fee is too high thats for sure. It's like a whole new world when I load up the european eshop storefront compared to my Aussie one. I like to buy things on the eShop to support the platform, but seeing as how when I use my credit card to buy things, I still get charged an international transaction fee. Our Aussie eShop is a rouse. Even Nintendo cant be bothered having an Australian based site, yet they still over charge us for their games, dont have as many games on there, and get charged hidden fees by the banks for using it. We aussies are getting royally screwed over.

Aielyn

#17

Aielyn said:

The obvious solution is to incorporate PEGI into our system.

Not directly, of course. We should keep our own ratings system. But for online-only games, we should also accept PEGI ratings with a very small fee (like $10). Retail copies should still be subject to full ratings, though.

Mickey

#18

Mickey said:

Anything that prevents people from playing ANY video games is bad in my book.

RetroGBHippie92

#19

RetroGBHippie92 said:

@deathlysneer I didn't know any of that, thanks for bringing that up. Well I guess the only reason why we haven't got MSF is because of Australia, there really isn't any need to split the eshop just for our country, so I guess we're just forced to wait.
I still feel your pain because we're both on the same wavelength, I don't want to import or change eshop regions, but looks like for the sake of things we're gonna have to until Australia plays catch up.

luminalace

#20

luminalace said:

There are further changes planned to the Australian ratings classification system. You can read about it in an article that IGN had a few days ago. That said I still don't think $430 is heaps though I guess for Indies every dollar counts.

FineLerv

#21

FineLerv said:

Thanks for the article. I've always suspected that the rating system is impeding the e-shop releases down here and this verifies it.

MAB

#22

MAB said:

Alright I will just get back to smokin' gum leaves with Koalas and ridin' Kangaroos till they sort something out maybe ;)

Chunky_Droid

#23

Chunky_Droid said:

@KenB: I was going to write a massive rant about your comment, because I feel it was ill prepared.

The ratio of people who own the 3DS and Wii U in Australia, to having those systems actually online is pretty paltry, and even less when you factor people actually buying something from the eShops.

On the Wii U eShop, you CAN create a new account and base it in Europe, that's how I got Mighty Switch Force anyway.

SneakyStyle

#24

SneakyStyle said:

It's Australias own fault in a way I guess ( I live here too ) but we keep voting in these old geezers who won't let go of the 1980's and who think a girl showing a bit of leg is ''over the top porn'' and they think video games are just space invaders and fry ya brains! xD.... Sigh my country blows in some ways think i'm Japanese at heart.

EaZy_T

#26

EaZy_T said:

That's a hefty fee for small developers.
Maybe there should be a 'sliding scale' based on the value of the companies (a small indie business pays less than a large corporation).

stipey

#27

stipey said:

@KenB New Zealand has a separate rating system. and yeah, for plenty of small devs on a small game, they're not going to make that money back. not the with the small number of 3DS's and Wii Us floating around Aus/NZ

RedYoshi999

#28

RedYoshi999 said:

The $430 fee was just if the indie dev got lucky! The Vooks article explains that the fee is $890 or $1210, which is utterly ridiculous.

Sinister

#30

Sinister said:

In Germany it costs you 1000€ + 19% tax to get a game rated. Thats just for one System. And if you game is super buggy the USK may charge you an additional 150€ + tax. If you want to release the game on multiple platforms every new platform will cost you an additional 250€ + tax.

So a indie game that is not buggy that is to be released on the 3 major consoles + the pc would cost 1750€ + 19% tax = 2082,5€

Grated we got a population of 82 million.

You don't really need a ranting in Germany but MS, S and Nin require ratings. For PC you can release a game without a rating. If you release a game without a rating the game can not be sold to underaged people and it can be indexed.

Lunapplebloom

#31

Lunapplebloom said:

As a guy with part Aussie, I find this not so surprising. When you look at the retail scene there, everything is usually more expensive in the first place. Though they have made some progress in recent years.

This sucks though, and Australia should try to rectify it.

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