South Korea’s Indie Tax Trauma

By Jim Rossignol on September 6th, 2010 at 7:02 pm.


Well, not really a tax, more of one-off fee, but it’s still causing no end of problems for South Korean indies. The problem is that the Korean government have decided to set up a ratings agency for games, and consequently all games published in South Korea under any format – and that includes slinging them up on the web – must now pay their own age rating (by the megabyte, illogically) or be classed as illegal naughtiness. Okay for the big corporates, but a nightmare for the indies who are trying to make it on their own, where a couple of hundred dollars is just too much, and frankly ludicrous for the amateur coders releasing stuff for free. There are few sources running with this story, but it seems to have emanated mainly from this post on Reddit, where the facts of the issue are defined for us in broken English. Meanwhile, TIGSource are debating what they can do about it over here. We presume it has knock-on effects for indies outside Korea, selling internationally over Steam and so forth, too. In fact, yes, here’s a story on that. Thanks.

We will add our voices to those saying “Boo, that’s not on. Give those guys a break, please, South Korean Government. Granted, you are a sovereign state and there’s nothing we can really do, but some kind of consideration would be nice. Cheers then, bye!”

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70 Comments »

  1. Wolfox says:

    I’d say that’s a pretty good evidence that Blizzard finally bought South Korea.

    • Araxiel says:

      Don’t be stupid. Blizzard hasen’t bought South Korea.
      However South Korea made Starcaft the new state religion.

      Btw. how can there be a tax on free games? It’s like “Oh hey Newgrounds. South Korea calling. Yeeeeah, we heard you’ve got some games? Yeeeeah, well…you have to pay for that. What do you mean that’s ridiculous? If you’re not going to pay our taxes then…then we…well…we send you a mail in which we tell you how angry we are!”

      I think, this may be a huge bitchslap for South Korean game developers and Indi studios. Whatever happens, I don’t think that this will have any kind of impact on 95% of the indi studios in this world.

    • ManaTree says:

      Er. Not even close. Didn’t you hear about how the Korean government tried to prevent the sale of SC2? They slapped a mature rating on it and everything.

      Of course, that didn’t stop people from buying it.

    • Wolfox says:

      It’s all part of the plan. ;)

    • Johnny says:

      I assume this was meant as a joke. I don’t get why you’d want a joke without any real punch though.

  2. Acosta says:

    You will go to hell for that joke Jim.

  3. Ignorant Texan says:

    Um, aren’t most indies making games that are much smaller than the Big Bois? If that’s the case, it seems much fairer than a one-size-fits-all model.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, but you add in a bunch of lovely audio files, and oh you’re paying X dollars more. It’s not exactly fair.

      And the point is *this applies to free games*.

    • bob_d says:

      @Jim Rossignol:
      I think you may be on to something; clearly this is the Korean government’s attempt to encourage file compression.
      (Spins out conspiracy theory about Korea’s government being unwilling to admit that their much vaunted internet infrastructure is being overwhelmed by big game downloads…)

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Seeing as how tax and fee avoidance is truly the world’s favorite sport, I can understand why this applies to everyone. Example – Buy this t-shirt for 49.95 and we’ll throw in this absolutely FREE!! game! Or, do it by amount of employees, and EA, Acti, Ubi, etc pull from the S. Korean markets, and games from those publishers are ‘distributed’ from someone’s apartment in Seoul. I do hope they figure some way to not kill the free-ware and small guys. Has this passed, or is it just being floated?

    • bob_d says:

      @Jim Rossignol: And what’s really absurd is those audio files will cost you different amounts depending on what genre of game it is. (And who gets to define genre?)

    • ManaTree says:

      The super conservative Korean government. :(

      Sure, sponsor the arts and music, but video games? THOSE DEVILISH THINGS? NEVER.

      So lame.

    • stahlwerk says:

      I for one look forward to the new south-korean demo/tracker/pixelart-scene. :-/

      Do mods need to be rated independantly?

  4. Deston says:

    The South Korean government’s main base is about to get Zerg rushed.

  5. bob_d says:

    Seems like this is going to hit free web games the hardest, by which I mean, destroy them utterly/drive them underground. If you’re releasing it for free, any cost is too high. (Although, would mods be considered new games? They’d be in the same position.) Any for-profit venture, besides the tiniest/lowest profit margin indie developers, can absorb the costs if they aren’t too onerous – a few hundred dollars (or whatever the cost-of-living-adjusted equivalent in won is) might not be too bad, considering the cost of the software needed to make games, but anything more than that would be a problem. I can see this being an issue with Steam games, though, not so much as a cost issue, but more an issue of having to jump through the hoops to get the ratings for the huge existing library of games available there from many publishers. I can see a lot of companies not bothering, especially with older and smaller games.

    There’s a certain twisted logic to charging by the megabyte – it’s clearly an attempt to differentiate tiny games, especially those that have more abstract gameplay and less realistic graphics (i.e. web and phone games) from big-budget AAA titles that have tons of content (e.g. GTA4).

    • bob_d says:

      Oh, I just read through the pricing scheme: the “logic” behind that is completely arbitrary. Indie online RPGs are completely screwed.

      The fact that non-localized games cost more is the real kicker. If the publisher can’t be bothered to localize, they certainly won’t bother getting it rated.

  6. Sagan says:

    I guess this is just a situation with no possible positive outcome. After all there is a lot of stuff on the Internet that you need to protect children from, and you can’t very well rate all games for free. I would even guess, that the illogic of scaling the cost by the megabyte is already a concession to indie developers.

    Also I’m going to go ahead and predict that something similar will happen in western countries. The rating systems we have were created before the Internet was so prominent, and they really need an update.
    One day there is going to be something similar to the serial killer roguelike, that is going to attract a lot of media attention. And you bet that people are going to demand a rating system that is appropriate for the Internet age.

    End result: Releasing a game for free is no longer possible. Or maybe a lot of people will release games anonymously and hope that it never gets public that they are the creators of the game.

    So yeah, this is shit. But it is inevitable shit, and it is going to spread all over the world.

    • bob_d says:

      In the U.S., at least, thankfully free speech rights will prevent mandatory ratings. The only issue is that unrated games, even more than unrated movies, really aren’t commercially viable (few theaters will show unrated films, few stores will carry unrated games, and certainly none of the big distributors of either will touch unrated product). This same issue is why you don’t see any real sexual content in American AAA games; the resultant ratings mean that most major retailers won’t touch it.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      bob-d

      I sadly do not share your confidence on non-mandatory ratings in the US given the current Supreme Court. They have fast-tracked the appeal of the California ‘Protect Our Children From Video Games’ Act lawsuit. Arguments are scheduled early in the next session. Given the Citizen’s United decision(also fast-tracked), we have a very activist court that has shown no deference to established precedents.

    • Araxiel says:

      A tax on the rating of games in the entire world? Old systems which to not apply to the “Internet Age”?
      What the quad are you taliking about?

      What’s possible that other countries will use their own rating systems which will be similiar to the ones Germany uses for example. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it, tough you’ve got a German flag in your avatar.
      (This is now an insight of a functioning rating system with some sort of tax)
      If you want to release a game in Germany, you it has to be rated by the USK which are going to give your game a age rating which is compulsory for sellers. To let your game be tested by the USK you have to pay them. This is some sort of tax on your game which does involve the age rating. If youre sending them “My pony farm 3″ the ‘tax’ is fairly low. But if you send them “Shout of Responsibility – Pink Camouflage 2″ which involves exploding heads made by Finit Ward with a production cost of $4 gazillion, the game will be weighted much more. Thus, there is a lot more effort evolved. This incrases the ‘tax’ you have to pay.
      Now the thing is, you’re not allowed to sell unrated (and banned) games to gain a profit if you’re a supermarket or store or something similiar. But if you’re a small indie studio on the internet, they don’t give a crap. You don’t need to get a rating. To buy stuff online as customer, you need a credit card. It’s nearly impossible to get a credit card if you’re under 18. If you’re 18 or older, then you can do whatever you like and play whatever you like. If you’re under 18 but your parents bought it for you with their credit card, it’s their call.

      Of course, in April and November you can hear the videogame-acists calling for a ban on violent video games because they corrupt the youth and poisen the well, but those are not being taken serious by the government and are mostly just to get some granny-votes on smaller elections.
      This system just works perfectly fine.

      Wake up guys; Now what I’m trying to tell is:
      1) You are wrong, I’m right. This means I’m more awesome than you…and my dick is of course longer than yours
      2) There already exist alternatives and working systems. Thus it will do not spread though the rest of the world and that this system is clearly crap created by some greedy and anachronistic beurocrats that think the internet is made out of a series of tubes.

    • Araxiel says:

      Maybe I’ve forgot to mention something:
      If your game is to sick/brutal and fails a rating, you’re still allowed to sell it, even as a store, but you’re not allowed to sell it openly. And you’re not allowed to do any marketing for it (also no marketing for games without a rating, durr). For every major company, this is like a deathblow for their games. No advertising nowadays is like…like a stripper which has to wear a hazmat suit all the time.

      Actualy, forget the simile with the stripper. It sounds hawt

    • DrGonzo says:

      That is not a working system. Your charging people more tax based on what subject their game is based on? That’s pretty horrific in my opinion. My Little Pony is no more valid a game than Fuck A Pony, and one should not be charged more to make it.

      See? I have a bigger penis.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I’m not sure why I said it’s not a working system. Of course it is! I meant it’s not a good system.

    • bob_d says:

      @Ignorant Texan:
      I’m actually not convinced California Assembly Bill 1179 would have that much of an effect – or at least no more than current obscenity laws do on the production and distribution of sexual material. (Ironically it also wouldn’t fulfill its stated purpose to keep violent video games out of children’s hands, as adults could still legally buy them for their kids, ignoring the ratings, which is how most kids get the games now.)
      What the bill essentially does (and the precedent it sets for other states and media) is that it creates a second class of obscenity defined by violent rather than sexual content, effectively across all types of media. (Note to the state of California’s lawyers: this is America, we love our violence, good luck with that.) So games could still go unrated (and have the same lack of a commercial future they do now), and violent games could still be sold, but retailers that sell games with certain types of violent content to children could face a fine. (“Postal 2″ would be right out, but “US Army Dismembering Foreigners 3″ would still be ok, according to the court papers.)
      The biggest impact it could have, if passed, would be the potential “chilling effect”: since no one could be completely sure what game was forbidden to minors without it going to court, retailers would have to be extremely careful about selling games to minors with any violent content, but I can’t really imagine they would remove violent games from store shelves entirely. I could see developers self-censoring a bit more than they already do (but if that means fewer games where you can urinate on a character after killing them, I’m actually fine with that).

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      bob_d

      Knowing how resourceful I and my friends were as children to see ‘forbidden’ things, I can’t imagine today’s children being any less so. Therefore, the intent of CA Bill 1179 is, essentially, an act of political grandstanding.

      Wal~Mart has a larger say in the contents of video games than any state legislature ever will. I’m more concerned with what ever nonsense the Supreme Court may allow; that this is fast-tracked does not bode well for free speech. One scenario is they decide it is a ‘states’ rights’ issue. Knowing how money starved most, if not all, states are currently, I can easily see them enact a a rating board with the devs paying for certification, i.e. a not so cleverly disguised tax. Also, I imagine that the dreaded ‘community standards’ rules could be applied, as well. Watching the attempts to ban library books for ‘objectionable’ content(objectionable being very much an eye-of-the-beholder thing), I shudder to think what this may lead to for damn near any form of entertainment.

    • drewski says:

      Freedom of Speech guarantees the government won’t censor or prevent you from exercising reasonable freedom of expression (it is, contrary to popular belief, not an absolute right, merely a comparative one) – it doesn’t stop the government from regulating precisely *how* you may exercise that freedom of expression.

      See: “free speech” zones around military bases and important public events.

      I don’t know if the US government has any intention of creating a mandatory ratings agency, but it’s conceivable that one, if created with the right regulations, could withstand a Supreme Court challenge on 1st Amendment grounds.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      drewski -

      Some speech is protected, i.e. most non-violent political, religious and artistic expression(within certain limits), while some is not, i.e. the famous example of the prohibition of yelling ‘fire’ in a crowed theater. While I am probably being alarmist, this particular Supreme Court has shown a willingness to take a particular challenge(the Citizen’s United case involve a ruling by the FEC that was challenged on narrow constitutional grounds) and use it to make a broad ruling involving political campaign financing limits and the rights of corporations. Whether that is a good or bad thing, I leave to each individual to decide for themselves. Someone much wiser than I said it best – ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of Freedom’.

    • drewski says:

      Texan – umm, I know. That’s the point I’m making – the first amendment is not an absolute right, it is a comparative right and when the competing interest is more important (generally public safety tends to be the easiest one to get a challenge successful under) a restriction on your right to free expression will be allowed, even in the US.

  7. Heliocentric says:

    How much is the rating exactly? How much would left4kdead cost to rate? How much for a blueray game?

    • Sagan says:

      There is an explanation in the linked reddit story:

      Basic fee per game:
      - less than 10MB – 21000 won, 17.5$
      - 10MB to 100MB – 50000 won, 23.8$
      - 100MB to 300MB – 56000 won, 47.5$
      - more than 300MB – 168000 wom, 142.97$

      AND Coefficients… (This was somewhat difficult vocalbulary for me XD)
      - Network related – x1.5
      - Not network related – x1.0

      AND Coefficients again per genres
      - Role playing games – x3.0
      - Betting-related, fighting, adventure, simulation, FPS – x2.0
      - Puzzle, board, sports – x1.5
      - Educational – x1.0

      AND Coefficients for localizing
      - Non-korean localized x1.1
      - Korean localized x1.0

      So… someone made 105MB of single-role-playing games in Korean, for FREE. he/she has to pay 23.8 * 1.0 * 3.0 * 1.0 = approx 71.4$

    • DrGonzo says:

      Is more than 300mb the largest tier? If so, that’s pretty mean.

    • bob_d says:

      It doesn’t take much to hit the upper category for game size (plenty of indie games are that big). I can understand the idea behind pricing the rating of smaller games differently, but their categorical distinctions are bizarre. Is an 80 meg game that different from a 120 meg game?

    • ManaTree says:

      Suffice to say, it’s a very poorly thought out plan.

    • Carra says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty damn dumb.

      If you make an RPG with some music & speech you have to pay $450..

      Djeez.

  8. Evil otto says:

    I can’t help it, I find the Seoul joke very funny.

  9. Alexander Norris says:

    The Seoul pun is pretty much the only RPS pun I haven’t found groan-inducing recently.

  10. ManaTree says:

    As a South Korean (by ethnicity, grew up in the States), this is most insulting. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t played many Korean games, but a rule like this is full on bullshit. I suppose the closest I can say is that I worked with the games division of a company, and they’re really awesome dudes and gals in there.

    By the way, I don’t think they’re being particularly discriminatory to any type of game maker; I think their pricing structure is just poorly thought out and happens to target indies. The government has no idea about how games work (you can see them attempting to do lots of things to prevent playing them).

    If any Korean indie can read this (I hope so), I’d like for you to contact me. I don’t have a ton of resources, but I’m sure I can try something. Distribution of some kind. Email me at circuitr33@gmail.com. I’d also love to play your game.

    By the way, don’t worry about the joke, it’s pretty commonly used. There’s nothing bad about it.

    • ManaTree says:

      Oh, to clarify, I worked at a Korean company in Korea over the summer.

      Korea. Korea Korea Korea.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      @Mana Tree

      Since you have experience with Korean, is 21000 Won a lot of money? 17.50USD is about less than the cost of two IMAX tickets in Texas, but 17.50USD is almost half the weekly wage of a factory worker in Mexico.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      blargh – That should have read Korean prices. >_<

    • ManaTree says:

      Not really. The guy inside says 1175 Won is equivalent to $1 USD, so it seems like 21000 Won (by the way, it looks like this) would come out to be around $18. I’m not sure how to fully explain this minus flying you over there and making you live for a couple months, but I feel like the prices (even in Seoul, where a quarter of the national population lives) are much cheaper than in the US. Except maybe housing (in Seoul, that is). I didn’t handle that part. But food and entertainment was surprisingly cheaper than expected. Also transportation. $0.77 to go to work, one way? Yes please.

      21000 Won can get you a decent amount of stuff, definitely more than the US.

    • ManaTree says:

      …The guy…inside…

      Okay, I admit, I have no idea what I was trying to say there. GOOGLE says…etc. Weird. Maybe my subconscious knows something about Google I shouldn’t know…Kinda like the Wizard of Oz?

    • TeeJay says:

      Re. ‘cost of living’ & ‘average income’

      ‘gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita’

      (more or less = average income, adjusted to account for average prices)

      US $46,000 (£30,000)
      UK $35,000 (£23,000)
      SK $28,000 (£18,000)

      from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita

  11. ManaTree says:

    Did I also mention I’m a Californian? I’m DOUBLE insulted by the state of video games acceptance!

    HA!

    Wait. D:

  12. Tei says:

    I hate wen a country think can guardian the whole internet.
    FUCK YOU, KOREA.

  13. Bascule42 says:

    SK indies will have to release thier games with half the stuff missing. Low res textures, low quality sound, parts of the engine missing, or even the code for activating the product missing, submit that for rating. Then release a day one patch.

    Which would bring then into to line with some of the bigger names like Ubisoft.

  14. ManaTree says:

    By the way, the comments on this article are very wrong. I personally went there and went to a PC game retailer. The top 10 chart? After StarCraft (of course), were Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead and Counter-Strike.

    That market is bigger than any idiot’s understanding. At the very least, Valve’s games sell quite a bit there. Not to mention the Counter-Strike tournaments that happen every so often.

  15. dadioflex says:

    Many years ago there was a similar situation in the UK with fan-made horror movies that were only being given limited screenings at conventions. Because they were still considered public performances and hadn’t been given an official rating, they were judged to be breaking the law.

    And haven’t some Australian politicians been asking for all iPhone apps to be given a rating?

    In the UK we’re used to games and movies having strict, legally enforced ratings that are decided by a committee, so should we be all that surprised?

    There have been any number of recent indie web games with highly questionable content, that have no barrier to access by minors. I don’t particularly want to see good indie games getting hurt, but there’s more to this than that. And it’s getting beyond just saying that it’s the responsibility of the parents to keep their kids in line online. How do you do that?

    I read a blog post a couple of months back from a parent describing in meticulous detail the efforts they took to limit their kid’s internet access from their PC and phone, and furthermore to monitor virtually every aspect of their online life, using key-logging software. I was pretty appalled, but unless you actually go to that extent, how do you know your charming, well-mannered child isn’t sexting behind your back or chatting with 40 year old strangers. Kids lie.

    I dunno. We can’t roll everything back to the fifties when the rude paintings were kept in the back rooms of the museums. We’re too far gone to socially engineer a solution. So what’s left aside from technology and the law?

    • bob_d says:

      The hilarious thing about the ratings (in the US at least) is that parents who buy games for their kids largely ignore them. When the “hot coffee” scandal broke out, I read a number of interviews with parents, grandparents, etc. who were utterly outraged, but it turned out they had been buying the game for 12 and 13 year olds, unaware (or uncaring) that the game was rated for 17+ years (as clearly indicated on the box). The mod made it an 18+ years game, so in other words, the mod didn’t really make the game any more age inappropriate for those kids they had given it to in the first place, and thus they really had no reason to be outraged.

  16. MadMatty says:

    Is this enuff to stop the Grindfest?

  17. Dozer says:

    Key-logging your kids PC is probably a good idea, as is rigging your router to record sites accessed. If they know they’re being monitored it’s not even necessary to actually monitor much…

    The data-size coefficients are bizarre. Will we see games with an open file architecture, shipped with placeholder textures and media, with a supposedly ‘third-party’ mod supplying the developer’s intended resources as a separate download?

  18. Andrew Dice says:

    I have to say, as an up-and-coming indie myself with practically no real starting cash, this whole thing reads like a Faustian nightmare. Especially since our product falls squarely into the very highest price bracket (>300MB + RPG), we’d have to shell out over half a grand just to sell the game and that’d probably have stopped us dead if this were the law in the States. This is essentially the apocalypse for the indie scene in Japan.

    Of course, I don’t even know how this will be enforced in practice. What are they going to do, start throwing bedroom programmers in prison for releasing games for free without a rating? The whole thing is so profoundly badly-thought-out that it’s hard to know where to start or how to address it intelligently.

  19. westyfield says:

    Spectacular punnage, Jim.

  20. Dustin says:

    Thanks a lot for posting this — I don’t have much to add except another ‘boo’ on the pile.

  21. dragon_hunter21 says:

    How are they planning to enforce this? If they’re going by where it’s hosted, run it through a VPN to a slightly less insane state like…

    Oh wait, forgot that there’s not a single country on this earth that handles videogames responsibly.

  22. drewski says:

    I think this is a tip of the iceberg problem. Right now, webgames, indie games and mods are entertainment products that fall outside the reach of national entertainment classification guidelines. It’s another example of the interwebs and e-tainment in general being so far ahead of the curve that governments are really struggling to catch up.

    But if places like Australia can plan internet censorship on the basis that the internet should be subject to the same classification regime as TV, radio, cinema and printed media, it’s very likely that more and more markets – especially those without a long standing and firm commitment to (relatively) free expression – will try to bring niche gaming under their classification regimes.

    I don’t think it’s a cynical revenue grab – I think it’s just governments realising that there’s a huge spectrum of media that it essentially entirely unregulated and going “We can’t have this! What if people decide they LIKE thinking and deciding what to consume for themselves! MUST. INTERFERE.” Plus, of course, opportunities for crusades against sick filth, which always goes down well with the over 50s.

  23. Fred Wester, CEO of Paradox says:

    Fred Wester, CEO of Paradox is unamused

  24. Calabi says:

    It seems like a lot of this sort of thing is going. Governments are cracking down on the internet net neutrality, and the uk digital bill and australias great firewall whom isnt next. I wonder what the internet will be like in five years or whether all this will come to anything at all.

  25. Faxmachinen says:

    Sounds to me like the Korean Rating Board is far too busy trying to rate every game ever. KRB watermark forgeries, anyone?

    Or you could go the legal route and lump as many games as possible into one 300MB+ bundle.

  26. pipman3000 says:

    ain’t corruption great

  27. Dreamhacker says:

    Wow, that is the single most stupid, anti-free market bullshit law passed by disgusting assclown excuses for politicians I’ve ever seen. Quite fitting for North Korea.

    Wait…what? It happened in South Korea? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD!?

  28. Brendon Carr says:

    I’m a US attorney working at one of Korea’s leading law firms. And I work with a number of game publishers who are closely monitoring these developments. None of this is new.

    The Game Industry Promotion Act (ha ha!) has for years imposed a requirement for ALL games to be rated by the Game Rating Board for a certain fee. The new per-megabyte fees are in fact more reasonable than the fee regime formerly in place — we had a client distributing free, browser-based Java apps (thousands of them) whom the GRB wanted to pay up W300,000 per game for ratings some years ago. The GRB officer kindly suggested, using his Hotmail-type freemail account, that forming a 50-50 joint venture with his friend would enable the officer to “take care” of our client.

    My suspicion is that such crude shakedown attempts are not uncommon at the GRB, as with many other Korean government agencies. GRB was formed, in fact, out of the ashes of its predecessor agency the Korea Media Rating Board, which collapsed amid a similar bribery scandal. Korean society is such that it is inconceivable for there to be no government control over content.

    The government knows the system is broken. There are two bills pending in the National Assembly right now which, if passed, will enable operators of on-line distribution systems, like Apple’s App Store or Valve’s Steam platform, to “self-rate” games subject to supervision from GRB. This wouldn’t solve the problem of the headless-horseman Android Market, which has no human oversight, but Korean developers of Android phones could operate their own walled-garden App Store-alike game stores. Additionally, it is suggested that certain games from independent developers could be exempted from the rating system altogether.

  29. JonFitt says:

    I hate to be the one siding with the ratings board, but it sounds like:
    (1) The law in Korea requires all games even free ones to have an age rating.
    (2) It takes them real paid man hours to have a person grind through your free RPG.
    (3) $71 for a rating service to play and process the paperwork on a rating is a bargain for any professional service, my fat plumber won’t look at a pipe for less than $100.

    Seems like the only real solution is to create exemptions to (1)

    • TeeJay says:

      Another solution would be for the government (ie taxpayers) to pay for the costs of it’s own monitoring systems – like it does in other areas of “policing”. Ultimately general taxpayers/voters would decide how much money they wanted to put into keeping files on people / games / companies /websites etc. and all the bureaucracy involved in deciding what they are going to ban or restrict. While it is true that some activities place more cost burdens on society than others (eg dangerous sports, large events or in the this case large games) the principle of linking taxes to “ability to pay” (eg via income taxes or coporate taxation etc) is a good one.

    • jonfitt says:

      I do think that games that are not “sold” should almost certainly be exempt from such consumer protection. However assuming that the gov requires certification:

      I’m not sure how the rest of society would feel about having to pay so that you can have your product certified whether or not you charge money for it.

      Also lots of public record keeping (policing) is done at the expense of the owner, I can think of dog licenses and alarm system registration just off the bat.

      it’s not usual to have to pay to be rated. Here’s another fee charging ratings board:
      http://www.bbfc.co.uk/customers/fee-calculator
      £540 for a 40 hour game.

      the difference being I don’t think free download games require it in the UK.

      I don’t know if PEGI has an associated fee.

  30. TeeJay says:

    In the UK it is planned that from April 2011 all games will legally require a PEGI rating. I can’t find out how much PEGI (and/or their UK-based partner organisation the Video Standards Council) charge to review and rate games or for using their logos, but I am sure it is not free.

    I have also noted the following statement on the VSC website:

    “July 2010: Video Games Update

    The Digital Economy Act 2010 has been passed in the UK. As a result the PEGI system of age rating for video games will be encoporated into UK law and PEGI age ratings will become mandatory in the UK.

    These changes have not yet been made effective. This means that for the time being there is no change in the procedure for releasing games in the UK.

    The government has said that legislative changes are likel to be implemented on 1st April 2011. The VSC is involved in the discussions regarding the implementation of the new legislation and will ensure that all games publishers and will ensire that all games publishers and others are made aware of the changes in good time.

    It is important to stress hat no games must appear for sale in UK shops with a PEGI 18 age rating prior to 1st April 2011.

    The PEGI website suggests that this currently includes games such as Bioshock, Company of Heroes, Fallout 3, Mass Effect alongside the more ‘expected’ Postal, Manhunt and “Sexy Games 3″ (however since PEGI has until now been voluntary, no ‘extreme’ (ie porn/rape-play/torture) games appear to have bothered submitting their products to PEGI. I also noted “PC Format Issue 174 cover disk” as having a PEGI 18 rating.

    As much as videogame censorship and/or taxes in South Korea is important, I can’t help worrying that the UK is possibly sleep-walking towards something just as bad and that games journalists are not really grilling the bureaucrats/politicians/etc about what they are currently cooking up.

    I also can’t really take the “no PEGI 18 games released before April 2011″ at face value – what does this actually mean? That ’18′-type games must continue to get a BBFC certification, that they don’t need any kind of age rating or that they are blocked from being released entirely?

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