Jul 22, 2013

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Saints Row IV Possibly Reclassified by ACB Next Week

Saints Row IV Possibly Reclassified by ACB Next Week

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As an Australian gamer, I was really rather distraught when Saints Row IV was banned here. The government-mandated Australian Classification Board (formerly the Office of Film and Literature Classification) had been struggling for a while to let properly “mature”-rated content into the country. The highest rating legally available for games was an MA15+ – the equivalent of a PEGI 16, or a strong T for Teen. This basically meant that games like Left 4 Dead 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Fallout 3 either had to be censored, or (arguably worse) squeezed in under MA15+, where younger audiences than intended could get at it. More disappointing, though, was when titles like The Syndicate, Manhunt 2 and Mortal Kombat ended up outright refused classification – in other words, banned.

The long-awaited introduction of the adult, R18+ rating earlier this year, though, was supposedly meant to have changed these issues. The point was, of course, that adult gamers could choose the content they wish to partake in, and while no one expected underage sex simulators to be rolling out onto EB Games shelves, classification of games like Saints Row IV seemed like a given. Apparently not – the game was refused classification and, a day later, surprise XBLA smash-hit State of Decay was, too.

Why were they banned? The ACB reports all seem to indicate that it was drug use that tipped State of Decay over – or, to be more precise, positive drug use. Drugs like morphine or aspirin. The “promotion” of drugs that have a positive effect on the player is apparently far too much. Meanwhile, of course, games like Red Dead Redemption are allowed casual, tentative consumption of alcohol, presumably because of its negative drug use. Got that? Real-life drugs that are good for you = ban, real-life drugs that are terrible for you = a-okay. This is the same twisted logic that saw Fallout 3 briefly refused before changing the drug name – not effect – of “morphine” to “Med-X.”

So, Saints Row IV. With State of Decay having re-submitted and passed its reclassification, Deep Silver has now also resubmitted their game in its attempts not to be refused sale in one of the larger western markets on the planet. It is apparently a “low violence” version – similar to how Left 4 Dead 2 was sold as “low violence.” However, all that we know for sure is that the confirmed date for reclassification is July 29th. Fingers crossed that the game finally gets through.

As an Australian gamer, this whole sad state of affairs has made me incredibly skeptical of the ACB and their ratings standards. The idea that a game that seems no less depraved than its MA15+-rated prequel can be refused classification under these new rules – rules that should have been designed to prevent this kind of grievous banning – is just absolutely mind-boggling. I’m annoyed to the point of sheer frustration that Saints Row IV even HAD to be reclassified. Whether or not it gets through a second time is up to the clowns at the ACB, I suppose – the choices of tax-paying, rational adults to play what they feel is suitable be damned.

[Source: ACB, via Joystiq]