Xbox LIVE SA team working to improve Marketplace service
Microsoft SA has highlighted its efforts to improve the local Marketplace
Xbox LIVE launched in South Africa in November 2010, but has been criticised for slow content roll-out and a general lack of games. One of the bottlenecks has been South Africa’s video game rating procedure, which is critical to getting content rated for digital distribution via a South African based service.
The Film and Publications Board (FPB) is the South African statutory body established by the Films and Publications Act of 1996. It is tasked with classifying films, videos, DVDs, computer games and certain publications for their suitable age viewership.
Recently, the FPB called for public input on its rating procedures, so we contacted Microsoft SA to find out if they were engaging with FPB to improve the rating procedure, and therefore get some more content on Xbox LIVE SA, faster.
It turns out that Microsoft SA has been working hard behind the scenes to support the FPB’s efforts to improve the SA rating situation for video games in general – something that will be beneficial to the entire SA game distribution industry, and not just the Microsoft SA Xbox LIVE marketplace.
Caren Crous, product and marketing manager for Xbox 360 South Africa, acknowledged the problems but was optimistic that improvement is on the horizon. Crous indicated that the FPB is also striving to improve the rating procedures, but remains committed to ensuring that the SA public is presented with accurate rating information for gaming products.
Crous told MyGaming that in future, once the FPB has finalised its new ratings procedures, they hope to have popular titles speedily available on the SA LIVE Marketplace.
This will hopefully be achieved by the implementation of a more streamlined system that will take into account ratings from recognised international boards to guide the local rating process. This will ease the timeframe in obtaining ratings for the entire gaming industry.
Indie titles are still a concern however, as they require the developer (who often self-publishes and merely distributes via services such as the Xbox LIVE Marketplace) to apply for approval with the FPB. Crous indicated that Microsoft SA might be open to initiatives to get popular LIVE games approved and available if there was enough demand from local gamers.
Crous rounded off the discussion by saying that Microsoft SA hopes to continue supporting and keeping the communication channels open with the FPB, not just for their own benefit, but for digital distribution services in SA in general. This prospect could bode well for other lacklustre digital distribution channels in SA, such as Apple’s iTunes and App Store, and Amazon.
Public submissions on the new FPB approval guidelines have closed, and the organisation will now be revising these ahead of issuing their new rating procedures.