May 28, 2022

All Australian Releases Must Disclose In-game Purchases

Australia has introduced a law that requires all games to advertise clearly the inclusion of in-game purchases. For physical games, this must be included alongside the usual rating information already present. This new law will apply retroactively. It applies for all games that were submitted for rating as of the 1st of May 2020. Typically rated months before release, games impacted by this new regulation will start hitting our shelves in September.

This ruling is exemplified in the upcoming, much anticipated release of Marvels Avengers, rated on the 1st of May. The in-game purchase disclaimer is clearly visible on the box art, as seen below.

The Usual Suspects

Less surprisingly, included on this list are a host of the usual suspects from 2k and EA; Fifa 21, PGA Tour 2k21, and Madden NFL 21 produce barely a flicker of an eyebrow rise. They will all include in-game purchases. But what is interesting is that these detailed descriptions of what are becoming some of the industry’s most insidious practices are required to the be printed and displayed for all to see, bold as brass, front and centre.

With the continued subversion of the established economic model for video game purchase, and amid calls for a hike in pricing in general ahead of the next gen launch, perhaps this is a step in the right direction. Sadly, micro-transactions are nothing new, nor are stories of incredulous parents having to re-mortgage to cover little Jonnies V-Bucks addiction.

Are in-game purchases bad?

But in and of themselves, micro-transactions and in-game purchases are all well and good. These are companies making games, after all. Let’s not pretend their motives are anything but economic. A hard pill to swallow for those still lost in the halcyon days of 5 devs and a dream. But that’s capitalism for you. The games industry is now officially the most revenue generating media industry in the world, surpassing movies and music by billions of dollars. In total, the industry made over $159 billion dollars in 2020. Just give that a moment to sink in.

We’re not going to go down that deep and winding rabbit hole just now. But what gets right up our nose is when these same companies pretend to be anything but multi-million dollar corporations. Hiding monetisation mechanics innocently behind a $60 price tag is a disgusting subterfuge that many parents will simply not be expecting.  Forcing these chancers to state their intentions from the outset will, it is our eternal hope stop them pissing in our pockets and telling us it’s raining.

The debate will not abate

Either way, this is clearly a hot topic for the industry as a whole, and should help to continue discussion as we head into a new console era. But what do you think? Should this be adopted more universally? Or should we continue to let these monoliths of gaming continue to dip their grubby fingers in our collective pockets…not that we’re biased. As ever, let us know below, and continue to follow ABG for more updates on this hot topic.

Source: Australian Government Website

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