iPhone and gaming app developers wary of classification

Developers speak out over Government plans to have apps undergo official classification

Mobile phone game and application developers have lashed out over Government plans to have their apps undergo official classification.

Tantalus CEO and Game Developers Association of Australia president Tom Crago, said Australia’s classification laws are “woefully outdated” and has called on the Government to reform them to include an R18+ rating, rather than go after game developers.

“Gamers will not be thrilled that this issue looks set to become hot, while the other far graver oversight continues to languish unattended,” Carago said.

“I'm not sure that a 'crackdown' will serve any purpose whatsoever, other than to highlight what we all already know: That without an R18+ classification for games in Australia we will continue to flail within a system that is hopelessly flawed.”

Developer Graham Dawson, who hit iPhone App Store success with his Oz Weather app, said the classification of mobile games would be impractical.

Apple themselves can hardly cope with the volume they have to approve and I just don’t see how the Government can be nimble enough to cope with the large number of apps submitted on a weekly basis,” Dawson said.

“It could certainly slow things down a bit if there was the imposition of an extra approval process on top of Apple’s own approval process. That would certainly turn a few people off developing on the iPhone platform.”

During a Senate Estimates committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation on October 19, director of the Australian Classification Board, Donald McDonald, expressed his concern over the release of mobile phone applications without official classification.

He told the committee: "I recently wrote to the minister [Minister for Home affairs - Brendan O'Connor] regarding my concern that some so-called mobile phone applications, which can be purchased online or either downloaded to mobile phones or played online via mobile phone access, are not being submitted to the board for classification."

On its App Store, Apple provides country-specific classifications for movies and TV shows available for download.

All applications are classified by Apple using its recently introduced four-tier classification scheme, but users must turn on restrictions in iTunes and on the iPhone or iPod Touch in order to lock out offensive material.

In September, Apple said it has passed 2 billion applications downloaded from its App Store, and that there are now more than 85,000 apps available to more than 50 million iPhone and iPod Touch users worldwide.

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