The Australian Classification Board has refused to rate open-world crime game Saints Row 4 and zombie adventure State of Decay. Both games will have to be reworked in order to be released in Australia.
Australia, if you're not aware, is much more strict about explicit video game content than other countries. Up until last year, the highest rating for Australian games was MA15+. This meant that games meant for players 18 years or older couldn't be released in the country. This forced developers to released edited versions of their games for Australia or bypass the country altogether.
Beginning this year, the ACB now has a R18+ category for games. This made it easier for mature games to be released there. The first R18+ game in Australia was God of War: Ascension. State of Decay and Saints Row 4 are the first two games to be refused classification since the introduction of this new rating.
According to State of Decay developer Undead Labs, their game ran afoul of the ACB due to "the depiction of drug use." In State, players use painkillers and other drugs to boost their health. Undead Labs is currently working with publisher Microsoft to make the game suitable for Australian release. One possible solution is removing the real-world medication names from the game.
"I know this is frustrating — believe me, we're frustrated too — but each country has the right to set its own rules about content, and it's our responsibility to comply with them, Decay executive producer Jeff Strain wrote in a note to fans. "Rest assured we'll do everything we can to find a way to get the game into your hands. Stay tuned."
Saints Row 4's violations are a bit more colorful. The ACB took exception to a mission in which players smoke "alien narcotics" in order to gain superpowers. They're also not happy about an alien anal probe that players can use as a weapon. The ratings board described this weapon in grim detail:
The lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon. When using this weapon the player approaches a clothed victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air. After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixelated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim’s anus. In the Board’s opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification.
So yeah, they're going to have to take that gun out. Developer Volition is currently "removing the content which could cause offence," according to a statement from SR4 publisher Deep Silver.
Both State of Decay and Saints Row 4 sound like they're going to be released in Australia once these changes are made. It's just a matter of when. Undead Labs says that it's "going to take a bit" to make the necessary alterations to State of Decay, which is currently available elsewhere in the world. Saints Row 4 won't be out until August so it's possible Volition will have the edited Australia version ready by then.