Australian video game industry trade group Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) and Bond University have released their latest Digital Australia report, which details the habits of Australian game players and consumers.
According to the latest report, found here (PDF), 68 percent of Australians play video games, with the average age of players at around 33-years-old. While the majority of players are male, an impressive 47 percent of players are female.
It is so hard for me to refrain from editorializing when I write these types of stories but... I'll do my best.
The Australian Classification Board has the ability to refuse classification to any game it feels falls outside the scope of its highest rating. This effectively bans these titles because it's illegal to sell games in Australia that aren't rated.
Australia has passed a controversial new anti-piracy law, according to this Ars Technica report. Why is it controversial? Because it makes it easier for rights holders to censor websites. The bill, which passed both houses, allows a rights holder to go to a federal judge to get a site - even an international site - blocked if they believe its primary purpose is in enabling copyright infringement.
Australian consumers might find themselves being forced to pay more for digital goods purchased overseas if the government has its way. According to PlayerAttack, goods purchased overseas and intangible services could be subject to a ten percent goods and services tax (GST). Those services could includes games from Steam, streaming services such as Netflix, eBooks, and even music and movies. iTunes already pays GST on Australian sales so its pricing will not change in the region.
Kotaku Australia reports that Electronic Arts has come to an agreement with the ACCC, the national consumer regulator for Australia, concerning giving refunds. EA said that it would not give refunds to customers of SimCity and other games bought through its Origin service way back in 2013. The Australian government disagreed and warned the publisher that it was violating the Australian Consumer Law.
The South Australian State Government has launched a special program that lets students help create national park upgrades by designing and creating elements in Minecraft, according to The Lead - South Australia.
This mildly amusing report from the Australian Government explains the different "blocks and rocks" in Minecraft and dispels the myths about what happens to them in the game (as opposed to what would "really happen"). We are sure this short report is for the benefit of youngsters who play the game and might be getting some less-than-accurate "geosciences" from it.
Here are some myth busting highlights from the report:
Netflix made a deal in Australia earlier this year that it wishes it could hit the rewind button on and this week the entertainment streaming company admitted it was wrong to do so. It had good intentions, but as the old saying goes, "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions" - and it's desperately looking for an off-ramp.
2K Australia, one of the last major AAA game development studios in the country, is shutting down, Kotaku Australia reports. According to that report all employees are being laid off and the studio is being shut down. The studio was located in Canberra.
Costs were the reason the studio was shuttered according to sources speaking to Kotaku Australia, who also said that a move to Melbourne was considered at one point.
Last week the Victorian Government (Australia) announced that it would put $340,000AU towards funding game developers as part of the Film Victoria’s Assigned Production Investment – Games program. The funding was announced by Victorian Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, on Friday, according to MCV.
The Australian Government announced this week that it would trial for one year a new system to speed up ratings for entertainment products. The Australian Classification Board will work in conjunction with International Age Ratings Coalition to use its ratings to streamline the process. A trial period will begin next month, and will be overseen by the Classification Board. The announcement was made by Michael Keenan, the Minister for Justice.
According to this TorrentFreak report, Australian Internet service providers have caved in to pressure from the Australian government to create a system to deal with copyright infringers and file-sharers. A group of Australian ISPs this week published proposals (a 34-page document called the "Copyright Notice Scheme Industry Code") to deal with the issue of online piracy - drafted with the help of entertainment companies, apparently.
The Australian Classification Board has rated Mortal Kombat X the highest rating it can give under its present system: R18+. The game, set for launch in late April worldwide, was given the rating due to "high impact violence, blood and gore, online interactivity."
If you are worried that you won't be able to play Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number in Australia due to it being refused classification in the country by the Australian Classification Board, then perhaps Hotline Miami 2 designer Jonatan Söderström (from Dennaton Games) has an answer you might like: just pirate it. At least that is what he told one fan who emailed him and offered to send him money directly to get his hands on the game when it is released later this year.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been refused classification in Australia, according to this Kotaku Australia report. A report by the Australian Classification Board explains why the game was refused classification, or given an "RC," effectively banning it from being sold in Australia. The scene in question involves implied sexual violence:
Speaking at the BMO Capital Markets 2014 Technology & Digital Media Conference (as chronicled by GII) today, Take-Two president Karl Slatoff said that those pushing to get Grand Theft Auto V banned in Australia should simply not buy the game if they don't like it, not get it banned from store shelves.
Kmart Australia has joined Target Australia in pulling Grand Theft Auto V from stores shelves in the country. This is not surprising considering that Wesfarmers owns both Kmart Australia and Target Australia. Still, this news is likely disheartening to Take Two, who issued a statement expressing its disappointment in Target yesterday.
Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick has expressed deep disappointment in Target Australia's decision to pull Grad Theft Auto V from its store shelves after an online petition specifically targeted the retailer over stocking the game. That petition on Change.org called for the retailer to pull the game over first-person interactions with sex workers (mostly viewed from YouTube videos showing sex with a prostitute followed by a murder in first-person view).
The BBC reports that Netflix will expand its reach to Australia and New Zealand in March of 2015. The company said that it will expand to these new regions in the first quarter of next year and will have two new original series - Marco Polo and BoJack Horseman - ready to watch when the service goes live there. Pricing and programming available for Australia and New Zealand will be announced at a later date.
New research coming out of Australia suggest that playing active video games or banning traditional games outright does not help children who live sedentary lifestyles. Traditional and active play games make little difference to how physically active children are throughout the day, says Professor Leon Straker from Curtin University's School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science.
Testimony in the trial of a 19-year-old from Melbourne, Australia man who stabbed a homeless person to death in January after an altercation, seems to be trying to create the defense that Call of Duty had a strong influence on the defendant's state of mind. Easton George Woodhead is facing a murder charge for repeatedly stabbing Morgan Wayne "Mousey" Perry at an encampment of homeless people living on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is shining a spotlight this week on a new Australian bill that would make it so that Internet service providers in the country would have to collect and store personal user data and give law enforcement agencies access to it for up to two years. The unnamed bill, currently being referred to as the "mandatory data retention bill," will be introduced to the Australian federal parliament during the week of October 27.
The uncensored PC version of Left 4 Dead 2 is finally available to consumers in Australia via Steam today (thanks Blue's News). The uncensored version of Valve's co-op zombie survival shooter sequel now carries an R18+ rating and is for sale - for a limited time - for 75 percent off its normal asking price.
A researcher from the University of the Sunshine Coast (Queensland, Australia) is investigating the theory that video games can empower girls by promoting positive female identities and deliver affirmative outcomes in the lives of teenage girls.
International PhD student Katryna Starks from Los Angeles said her thesis "Game Chang(h)er: Exploring the video game design elements that may impact the agency and identity of adolescent girls," focuses on female gamers, a demographic that is not fully catered to in game design.
The PC version of first-person cooperative zombie survival game Left 4 Dead 2 has finally been reclassified in Australia with an R18+ rating (thanks Cheater87). The game, now has warnings for "high impact violence," "strong impact themes," and "mild impact language."
GamesBeat reports that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken Valve Software to court over its "no refunds" policy on Steam.