For what its worth I usually avoid writing about the R18+ rating these days as I’ve run this issue into the ground over the past 3 years. However I won’t stop complaining about the fact that the only reason why it’s taken so long for this to happen is that vocal minorities have caused this piece of legislation to go through the wringer, even when there’s a crazy amount of public support for it. There’s a massive light at the end of the tunnel though and it’s looking like by early next year we’ll have a R18+ rating for games in Australia and I’ll stop harping on about it.
Recently the R18+ legislation was referred to a parliamentary committee for review by an unknown party in the Liberal government. I’ll admit that at the time I was a bit peeved about that happening; it looked like an abuse of a process used for controversial legislation more than the government doing their due diligence. However the results of the committee have come back and their recommendation is a straight up “pass the legislation”:
The Committee recommends that the House of Representatives pass the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R 18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012.
So I read the report in its entirety (it’s only 16 pages, most of them with only a couple lines) and the committee’s sentiments echo those of my own. Of particular interest is the public consultation section which I’ve reproduced below:
On 14 December 2009, the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) issued a Discussion Paper for public consultation on the question ‘Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R 18+ classification category for computer games?’2
The AGD received 58 437 valid submissions from both individuals and groups in response to the Discussion Paper. Of those, 98 per cent supported the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games while 2 per cent opposed.3
In November 2010, the AGD commissioned an independent research company to conduct a telephone survey of 2 226 individuals across Australia on attitudes toward an R18+ classification category for computer games.4 The poll found that 80 per cent of respondents supported the introduction of the restricted category.
The committee really did do its homework on this one and the wide reaching support heavily influenced their recommendation. Their comments are also well informed, recommending that no further public consultation be undertaken (since there’s already overwhelming support for it) and submitting that there’s more than sufficient evidence to support the introduction of the R18+ rating. It’s sad that bouts of rational thinking like this are few and far between, but I’m glad that the committee didn’t fall prey to the minorities like the rest of the legislative process have.
With committee’s recommendation in hand the R18+ rating should have a relatively easy time passing through the lower and upper houses. It’ll still be some time before we will have R18+ games on our shelves here as their sale will be treated much like R18+ movies and literature are today. However a timeline of late this year to early next year isn’t unthinkable and it won’t be too long after that that we might see some previously banned titles making their way onto our shelves. It’s been a long time coming but we’re almost there, almost in an Australia that doesn’t view gamers as children only.
It’s a sad truth that once a company reaches a certain level of success they tend to stop listening to their users/customers, since by that point they have enough validation to continue down whatever path suits them. It’s a double edged sword for the company as whilst they now have much more freedom to experiment since they don’t have to fight for every customer they also have enough rope to hang themselves should they be too ambitious. This happens more in traditional business rather than say Web 2.0 companies since the latter’s bread and butter is their users and the community that surrounds them, leaving them a lot less wiggle room when it comes to going against the grain of their wishes.
I recently blogged about VMware’s upcoming release of vSphere 5 which whilst technologically awesome did have the rather unfortunate aspect of screwing over the small to medium size enterprises that had heavily invested in the platform. At the time I didn’t believe that VMware would change their mind on the issue, mostly because their largest customers would most likely be unaffected by it (especially the cloud providers) but just under three weeks later VMware has announced that they are changing the licensing model, and boy is it generous:
We are a company built on customer goodwill and we take customer feedback to heart. Our primary objective is to do right by our customers, and we are announcing three changes to the vSphere 5 licensing model that address the three most recurring areas of customer feedback:
We’ve increased vRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions, including the doubling of the entitlements for vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus.
We’ve capped the amount of vRAM we count in any given VM, so that no VM, not even the “monster” 1TB vRAM VM, would cost more than one vSphere Enterprise Plus license.
We adjusted our model to be much more flexible around transient workloads, and short-term spikes that are typical in test & dev environments for example.
The first 2 points are the ones that will matter to most people with the bottom end licenses getting a 33% boost to 32GB of vRAM allocation and every other licensing level getting their allocations doubled. Now for the lower end that doesn’t mean a whole bunch but the standard configuration just gained another 16GB of vRAM which is nothing to sneeze at. At the higher end however these massive increases start to really pile on, especially for a typical configuration that has 4 physical CPUs which now sports a healthy 384GB vRAM allocation with default licensing. The additional caveat of virtual machines not using more than 96GB of vRAM means that licensing costs won’t get out of hand for mega VMs but in all honesty if you’re running virtual machines that large I’d have to question your use of virtualization in the first place. Additionally the change from a monthly average to a 12 month average for the licensing check does go some way to alleviating the pain that some users will feel, even though they could’ve worked around it by asking VMware nicely for one of those unlimited evaluation licenses.
What these changes do is make vSphere 5 a lot more feasible for users who have already invested heavily in VMware’s platform. Whilst it’s no where near the current 2 processors + gobs of RAM deal that many have been used to it does now make the smaller end of the scale much more palatable, even if the cheapest option will leave you with a meagre 64GB of RAM to allocate. That’s still enough for many environments to get decent consolidation ratios of say 8 to 1 with 8GB VMs, even if that’s slightly below the desired industry average of 10 to 1. The higher end, whilst being a lot more feasible for a small number of ridiculously large VMs, still suffers somewhat as higher end servers will still need additional licenses to fully utilize their capacity. Of course not many places will need 4 processor, 512GB beasts in their environments but it’s still going to be a factor to count against VMware.
The licensing changes from VMware are very welcome and will go a long way for people like me who are trying to sell vSphere 5 to their higher ups. Whilst licensing was never an issue for me I do know that it was a big factor for the majority and these improvements will allow them to stay on the VMware platform without having to struggle with licensing concerns. I have to then give some major kudos to VMware for listening to their community and making these changes that will ultimately benefit both them and their customers as this kind of interaction is becoming increasingly rare as time goes on.