The Australian government announced plans to impose classification fees on game apps in the iTunes marketplace, sparking notable resistance within the development community.
The government plans to require developers to submit their games to the Australian Classification Board
before they hit the iTunes store, which would cost developers between $470 and $2040 per game.
The government requires all films and games to pass through the Classification Board before they can reach the public, and Board officials believe that they must mend the loophole that allows developers to sell smartphone apps via online marketplaces such as iTunes.
App developers have lambasted the government's plans, saying the classification fees will discourage small teams from releasing their games in Australia altogether.
Nick Lowe, of Let's Make Games
, told the Sydney Morning Herald, "Applying the same fees for classification of mobile phone games will impose a disproportionate burden on smaller developers, who often develop games in their spare time and on a shoe-string budget."
"It's likely that most developers will simply choose not to release their games in Australia. This could be incredibly demoralizing, particularly for indie developers."
Other developers argue that the blurry line between utility and game apps renders the argument for classification invalid.
founder Marc Edwards said, "It's very difficult to define what's an app and what's a game. What about if a utility has some kind of game as an Easter egg? Does that mean that all of a sudden it becomes a game? And what about desktop applications? They've never been classified."
Edwards also noted that the sheer number of apps on the iTunes store would place a significant burden on the Classification Board.
The Australian government issued a statement explaining that despite the ambiguities in the iTunes store, the definition of "computer game" does "not exclude games distributed or playable online or on mobile phones."
The matter has been taken to the May Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting, and has been declared "out of session," meaning officials will consider the issue sometime before November, when the next meeting for classification issues will take place.
The Australian Classification Board has imposed strict limits on the games industry in the past, by rejecting
new rating systems and barring
the release of violent games in the region.