Update: Saints Row IV Refused Classification in Australia

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Update: Saints Row IV Refused Classification in Australia

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The game was still refused despite the recent introduction of an R18+ rating in Australia.

The Australian classification board has rejected upcoming President-based sandbox game Saints Row IV for rating. This happens despite the recent introduction of an R18+ rating in Australia, meaning that Saints Row IV will be the first game ever to be refused the new rating in the country. Publisher Deep Silver now has a chance to alter the game's content and resubmit it to the board. If it chooses not to, the game will effectively be banned from sale once it is released.

The board's report of the game noted that it "includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context" as well as "elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards". The board noted that such depictions are prohibited by the computer games guidelines set forth when the R18+ rating was finally passed.

Since the ratings inception, 17 games have been classified under the new R18+ rating. Previously, MA15+ was the highest rating in Australia, and developers often had to heavily censor content to see release in the country. Volition and Deep Silver have yet to issue a comment, but it can probably be assumed that it will be resubmitting a censored version of the game.

Games that have been refused classification are illegal to display or sell in Australia. Gray importing the game (purchasing it from an overseas online retailer) is a legal gray area, as customs officers have been known to confiscate and destroy seized gray imports of refused classification games in the past.

Saints Row The Third, a game which featured gratuitous amounts of violence as well as a giant purple dildo weapon, was issued an MA15+ rating in Australia. You may be thinking that Volition must have really dialed up the violence and sex for it to be refused the new rating, but the key point in this report is "drug use." Fallout 3 faced similar challenges when "real-world" drugs gave players positive benefits, so publisher Bethesda opted to change "morphine" to "Med-X." I wouldn't be surprised if Deep Silver does the same.

Source: Australian Classification Board via Games.on.net

Update: Deep Silver has provided the following statement regarding the classification refusal:

"Deep Silver can confirm that Saints Row IV was denied an age classification in Australia. Volition, the developer, are reworking some of the code to create a version of the game for this territory by removing the content which could cause offence without reducing the outlandish gameplay that Saints Row fans know and love. Saints Row IV has been awarded PEGI 18 and ESRB M ratings where fans can enjoy their time in Steelport as originally intended."

Source: Joystiq

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Something tells me the drug use is why it got the RC, meh just import it (legal here in NSW)
Funny thing is I've already bought it from steam, I wonder what they'll do. If it gets censored I'll cancel my pre-order and buy from elsewhere.

"elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards". This is the biggy, no idea why you mentioned "Volition must have really dialed up the violence and sex for it to be refused the new rating" when drug use with rewards for it is the big one.

Fallout 3 was going to be banned when I think it was Med-X was called Morphine (drug use being rewarded) but it was changed to Med-X.

Violence and sex do nothing here; AvP2010 went through for MA15+ and that has violent decapitations (with spine included) in first person committed by the player. Sex does nothing. Underbelly has boobs every 10 seconds and used to air at 8:30PM and no one cares.

It's really being rewarded for sex and drug use that is the issue; violence you're implicitly rewarded in most games anyway.

That's a shame, I can't wait to see what caused it to get banned though.

RicoADF:
Something tells me the drug use is why it got the RC, meh just import it (legal here in NSW)

Would it still work on an Australian PS3?

sb666:
That's a shame, I can't wait to see what caused it to get banned though.

RicoADF:
Something tells me the drug use is why it got the RC, meh just import it (legal here in NSW)

Would it still work on an Australian PS3?

Yes, PS3 are region free. Although I was thinking getting a PC copy

Well, more money into other people's economies I guess

RicoADF:

sb666:
That's a shame, I can't wait to see what caused it to get banned though.

RicoADF:
Something tells me the drug use is why it got the RC, meh just import it (legal here in NSW)

Would it still work on an Australian PS3?

Yes, PS3 are region free. Although I was thinking getting a PC copy

Even if they weren't the UK shares a region with us.

Dryk:
Well, more money into other people's economies I guess

RicoADF:

sb666:
That's a shame, I can't wait to see what caused it to get banned though.

Would it still work on an Australian PS3?

Yes, PS3 are region free. Although I was thinking getting a PC copy

Even if they weren't the UK shares a region with us.

Which Oz gameshop is happy to supply for a cheaper price than local copies, so really it's easy to legally get around the issue.

What I'm confused about is that steam has R18+ rating on the game, interesting....

huh, funny. i see MA rated movies here with sexual violence and gory moments. now we finally have a 18 rating and they have a problem. these guys in the office really have to get kicked out.

Ahh Australia, where if you want to look at a country that is absolutely retarded when it comes to videogames, you can look straight at them.

Can't have people thinking drugs could have some positive effects. The general puiblic don't have the common sense to distinguish real drugs from ones in videogames, or the consequences of taking them.

Not that I haven't bought every game in recent memory from overseas anyway and saved myself an incredible amount of money.

...

Wow.

What's the point of an adults only classification if the government is still going to tell you that you aren't mature enough to handle a game even as an adult?

Scars Unseen:
What's the point of an adults only classification if the government is still going to tell you that you aren't mature enough to handle a game even as an adult?

The adult only classification is the same for movies and TV. If it's not legal for those, it's not for games.

Meh, It'll still be on steam.

1. The Australian Censorship Board can eat a bag of warm dicks
2. Will this effect my preorder?
3. The modders will put it right back in.

Desert Punk:
Ahh Australia, where if you want to look at a country that is absolutely retarded when it comes to videogames, you can look straight at them.

I wouldn't say they are retarded, they are just keeping to stricter rules than other places. At first I thought it was going to be because of some pathetic reason but from this article it sounds reasonable enough to stop the game being sold because of incentivising drug use and whatever this violent sexual act thing is. If it was retarded then they would be banning the game for having red blood, like Germany does. Because the sight of blood in videogames turns Germans in to little Hitlers apparently.

thaluikhain:

Scars Unseen:
What's the point of an adults only classification if the government is still going to tell you that you aren't mature enough to handle a game even as an adult?

The adult only classification is the same for movies and TV. If it's not legal for those, it's not for games.

How can those be the same? There's no player in a movie so rules like "no rewarding the player for drug use" don't make any sense. Do they just ban any movie depicting any positive effects from drug use?

Good job getting it banned somewhere. Good press otherwise :D Sadly it'll result in a crappy watered down version for down under or dodgey imports, we'll see soon.

It not much of a loss, Saint Row 4 is just glorified DLC charging full price.

I took a gamble and bought it on Steam just now, I'm hoping it'll simply be unbuyable eventually but for now anyone whose bought it here already can still play it come launch day. Same thing with how Crysis 2 got pulled off steam by EA I figure.

What the fuck Australia? Seriously! Stop being so retarded. Why are you still censoring entertainment?

"In the Board's opinion, Saints Row IV, includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context. In addition, the game includes elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. Such depictions are prohibited by the computer games guidelines." ) [media release]

The computer game is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1. (a) as computer games that "depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified."(Australian classification board 2013) [website]

Interesting, it's because it offended morality and decency. Also telling is that they didn't include it in the media release. The legal reasoning sounds similar to the Obscenity Laws that exist in Australia. It must havea been pretty bad or they are really frigidly dense

hmmm reminds me of fallout 3 being banned until the drug names in game was changed but it seems this is more severe. Hmmm guess i might have to import a UK or USA version depending on how things pan out.

Sources
http://www.classification.gov.au/Public/Resources/Documents/2013%20media%20releases/media%20release%20Saints%20Row%204.pdf

http://www.classification.gov.au/Public/Resources/Pages/2013mediareleases.aspx

http://www.classification.gov.au/Pages/View.aspx?sid=ORJKHNcqACcJiNUajTM5pA%253d%253d&ncdctx=zmM%252fpLYhRaoPTSx73N4OSazjUs0nPLaypoWL8TZSg5VRvj1AWD2LKxeCe%2bILbEPT6cQbEjvY5QauhztRn755DQ%253d%253d

Adam Jensen:
What the fuck Australia? Seriously! Stop being so retarded. Why are you still censoring entertainment?

I would really appreciate you distinguishing between people who run the classification board, and a whole fucking country thanks.

It's time to debate ith your government people of Australia. My I suggest using a giant, purple dildo.

rapidoud:
"elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards". This is the biggy, no idea why you mentioned "Volition must have really dialed up the violence and sex for it to be refused the new rating" when drug use with rewards for it is the big one.

Fallout 3 was going to be banned when I think it was Med-X was called Morphine (drug use being rewarded) but it was changed to Med-X.

Violence and sex do nothing here; AvP2010 went through for MA15+ and that has violent decapitations (with spine included) in first person committed by the player. Sex does nothing. Underbelly has boobs every 10 seconds and used to air at 8:30PM and no one cares.

It's really being rewarded for sex and drug use that is the issue; violence you're implicitly rewarded in most games anyway.

Interesting, cause if you look at the website (check my other post no 21), it's because it offended morality and decency. So the question would be, Does the reward and linking between sex and drug use offend the average common adult in terms of morality and decency (obscenity)? Cause looking at their website that's what they used to RC saints row 4.

It's shit like this that makes me really hate this country sometimes. Not that it matters much though - I save $$$ and import all my games anyway muahahahaha!!!

CriticalMiss:

Desert Punk:
Ahh Australia, where if you want to look at a country that is absolutely retarded when it comes to videogames, you can look straight at them.

I wouldn't say they are retarded, they are just keeping to stricter rules than other places. At first I thought it was going to be because of some pathetic reason but from this article it sounds reasonable enough to stop the game being sold because of incentivising drug use and whatever this violent sexual act thing is. If it was retarded then they would be banning the game for having red blood, like Germany does. Because the sight of blood in videogames turns Germans in to little Hitlers apparently.

It sounds reasonable enough??

It's R18, that means adults only >:( kids aren't even allowed to *play* it, so who the fuck are they to tell *adults* that they cannot buy/play this game? I'm not even interested in getting the game and this has me pissed.
... I mean, for fucks sake, the entire reason for the damn rating was to stop exactly this sort of ridiculous nanny state bullshit, it's the whole reason it got so much support from aussi gamers, and now they turn around and do this again?

So no, i think it's very reasonable to question the classification board's mental faculties. I mean... why do we even have an R rating, it it's not for 'everything above MA', then literally, what was the damn point in adding it? Why is it other countries can treat their citizens like they're not babies, but Australia's government can't?

This is honestly the most stupendous thing I've read all day (and it has to contend with News Ltd.). What's the point in having an R18 rating if you're going to refuse classification anyway. No worries, we'll all just import it from overseas, and it'll be cheaper anyway. I can only assume the ratings board just hates local business.

Some_weirdGuy:
Why is it other countries can treat their citizens like they're not babies, but Australia's government can't?

It's because Australia is a Nanny-state. Like a police state but instead of being run by an oppressive tyrant, it's run by that school teacher who was always trying to be your mum.

Michael826:
This is honestly the most stupendous thing I've read all day (and it has to contend with News Ltd.). What's the point in having an R18 rating if you're going to refuse classification anyway. No worries, we'll all just import it from overseas, and it'll be cheaper anyway. I can only assume the ratings board just hates local business.

Or torrent it.

I read from this source that it was illegal to posses in Western Australia (where I live). Downloading it illegally would ensure you get the full version with no risk of it getting intercepted by customs.

I would say that this cheats the developer out of sales but the government has already ensured that.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jun/25/saints-row-4-refused-classification-australia

The Australian government never ceases to amaze me.

If I get an over seas friend to preorder it on my behalf and (and cancel my own pre order) Would that work?

Meh, i suppose i will just order itfrom the UK like i do most my games. If customshas something to say about that......well i guess thats what the old skull and crossbones is for.

Just throwing my 2c out there, but the idea behind the R18+ wasn't so much as to allow games of a higher level of violence into the country, but to make sure that any games not suitable for younger audiences don't reach their hands.

Having worked in both retail and IT, the mentality of parents is "oh, Billy is 12, and this is only a 15+ game. That isn't too bad for my little angel" (Yes, this is just about word for word what a parent said), but as soon as you whack a 18+ ADULT ONLY rating on something, it becomes all "protect my boy" and "how DARE they market this to MY child" (Again, things parents have actually said).

The point is, perhaps there are things in SR4 which are just a bit too far into the morally wrong field. Should we be able to choose for ourselves, as adults? Probably. Should said adults be able to recognize that this content is socially questionable? Probably.

However, in the current climate of Sexual Harassment, Rape, Murder, etc of women, one cannot blame a classifications board for saying "hmm....this doesn't help with resolving the issues in society". Again, does a game cause someone to become a rapist or murderer? Probably not. Does having a game which depicts violence, sexual or otherwise, help society? Probably not.

That's my 2c, not much, but something a squeezed out.

Keepitclean:

Some_weirdGuy:
Why is it other countries can treat their citizens like they're not babies, but Australia's government can't?

It's because Australia is a Nanny-state. Like a police state but instead of being run by an oppressive tyrant, it's run by that school teacher who was always trying to be your mum.

It isn't like they provide you anything important like police or health care but they banned some stupid little game so fuck them right.

Censorship. Because that works.

Who even wins in this situation?

I thought the Australian Government had woken up and were winding down this sort of behaviour? Obviously not. Give it a day or two and you can get the content right back with mods - can/does the Government do anything with regards these? What about the typical/common mods for.. pretty much any Bethesda game - are any of them subject to this treatment or do they avoid it based on the fact that they're mods and aren't classified?

Also, a few in here seem to be advocating piracy. Schoolboy error..

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