The good folks over at the OC (don't call it that) Register's Blizzard blog have gotten some more information about that recent flap with many MMOs being unrated and thus legally unable to be sold there. They talked to Daniel Gleeson of the Australian Attorney General's department, and he said that yes, the MMO games like World of Warcraft will have to be rated to be sold in the country. But he also reiterated what we'd heard a little while after Massively posted their story: that games were still being sold on store shelves, regardless of the actual legal tangles.
The Blizzard Blog also spoke with the IEAA, the classification board down there for games, and they were told the same thing that Massively was: while the board thought that MMOs did not require a rating, it has since become clear that they do. The difference, says the AG guy, is that the IEAA believed that "games" like WoW were actually services, not games, and thus didn't fall into the classification system.
But now it's clear to everyone that they do, so we'll expect to see the IEAA pass out a rating for World of Warcraft and the other MMOs on sale down there, and then this will all be over. It's interesting to note that ratings may be a very cultural thing -- here in America, ratings are pretty strictly issued by the ESRB, partially because the videogame industry is worried about governement intervention in the system (if the industry can't police themselves, angry parents may ask the government to step in). But in Australia, the government obviously seems largely unconcerned about the ratings. Then again, Aussies aren't completely laid back about everything having to do with MMOs.