Saints Row IV has become the first game to receive a refused classification by the Australian Classification Board since the R18+ rating was extended to video games. In contrast, the US and European releases all received the adults-only M or PEGI 18 rating.
According to the Acting Director Donald McDonald, the game was given the RC rating because of the “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.”
McDonald also says that there have been 17 games that have been allowed through with an R18+ classification – because that apparently will quell any gamer rage directed at them for banning the game.
“Under the new guidelines, we celebrate the fact that adults can now access age-appropriate games which may have otherwise been refused classification, but as we have argued, we also must accept that there will be some video games which will fall outside the scope of the R18+ guidelines,” the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) said in a statement in response to the news.
“Whether we agree or not with this specific classification, it highlights that the classification system is functioning as it should and that R18+ was never meant to open the ‘floodgates’ for all types of content.”
R18+ games are allowed to have violence, nudity and drug use depicted on screen. However, under Australian Classification Law, games cannot feature:
- drugs as incentives or rewards to players; and cannot depict realistic and detailed use of illicit or proscribed drugs.
- high level violence that is, in context of the game’s story, “frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult”
- Actual sexual violence; or, implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by the context of the game’s story, or used as an incentive or reward.
- Depictions of actual sexual activity, or simulated sexual activity that are “explicit and realistic”
A Deep Silver spokesperson told TechGeek, “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.”
The game was to be shown off at PAX Australia (booth 1512) by Volition. However, it looks like that is now off the table since it is against the law to publicly exhibit any game that has been refused classification – unless the censored version gets a classification before the show begins in less than a month.
Saints Row IV comes out on August 20 in North America, and August 23 in Europe.