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Australia's new age rating system bans Saints Row IV

Title is first game to receive a Refused Classification rating

Saints Row IV has been banned from sale by the Government Classification Board, with suggested sexual violence cited as a major factor.

According to a statement from the board, "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."

The new system has been in place for six months, finally allowing an adult rating for games, but Saints Row IV is the first game to receive a RC (Refused Classification) rating. Saints Row: The Third was granted a MA 15+ rating in 2011.

"Apart from today's decision, since the beginning of the year, the Board has classified 17 games R 18+ under the new guidelines," said acting director of the classification board Mr Donald McDonald.

Publisher Deep Silver and developer Volition are now planning to rework the title, according to an official statement.

"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."

Latest comments (18)

Michael Bennett Jack of all trades, master of some. 3 years ago
This is why I left Australia. It's a wonderful place to live and grow up, but as an adult too many things are frustratingly bureaucratic and inefficient. The ratings system is just another symptom of an unwieldy and obstructive bureaucracy. Why would I start a company there, when I can do it for half the effort and cost somewhere else? When the mining money runs out, it's going to hit hard.

That said, the prohibition on graphic sexual content in games is ironic given that prostitution is completely legal in almost every state in Australia. So, I'm legally allowed to pay for sex but as an adult I can't see sex in a game...
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
@Michael Bennett

I take a surprisingly interesting insight into Australia from your post.
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Its like taking a shotgun, loading it and firing at point blank to all parts below the torso.
Why is Australia shooting itself in the feet?
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Show all comments (18)
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
They are missing out. Saints Row is gonna be awsome. If its anything like the third one, I am totally waiting for this one.
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Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd3 years ago
Almost as ridiculous as Germany's "Federal Office for the Examination of Media Harmful to Young People" who banned the following game thus providing invaluable protection for Germany's youth:

[link url=""]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmPjsBDN9Xw[/link]

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tameem Antoniades on 25th June 2013 2:55pm

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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
"Federal Office for the Examination of Media Harmful to Young People"... I wonder what the acronym for that looks like, "FOEMHYP" or "FOFTEOMHTYP"... anyway, that is one hell of a long name...
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Steven Hodgson Programmer, Code in Progress Ltd3 years ago
That said, the prohibition on graphic sexual content in games is ironic given that prostitution is completely legal in almost every state in Australia. So, I'm legally allowed to pay for sex but as an adult I can't see sex in a game...
That is messed up. As with all things related to sex & violence in video games, the finger is pointed at the wrong person. Parents not taking partial responsibility for buying their children these games, stores for selling these games to underage children, and shoddy research.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Steven Hodgson on 25th June 2013 4:28pm

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Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent3 years ago
Have nothing useful to add but: Donald MacDonald?
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Abraham Tatester Producer 3 years ago
Sex is one thing. Violence is another. But does everyone here condone sexual violence?

Uh...Interesting.

Edit: Of course I have no idea what the actual content looks like, so I'm not passing judgment. I suppose everyone else is just assuming that the censors are imagining things, or incorrect in their labeling the content "sexual violence."

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Abraham Tatester on 25th June 2013 5:08pm

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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 3 years ago
It's a good point Abraham but I really do wonder about the context of how it's portrayed. For instance a lot of the British sense of humour is based on laughing at stuff that's, frankly, a bit wrong. If you make it silly and over the top enough, the audience usually feels a collective assurance that it's ok to laugh and that it's meant to be funny and not a portrayal of doing something wrong with the approval of the performer/developers and by proxy the audience as well. In fact by laughing at it you are in essence pointing out that you think it would be wrong to do these things because why would you laugh if it wasn't completely wrong?

Does me laughing at the classic "man stepping on a rake" sketch mean that I condone beating someone with garden equipment?

I don't understand why the Australian board can't give this the highest age rating and let adults make decisions about the grey areas. If anything it will promote discussion on the topics. It's obvious that you can't legislate for making decisions about such polymorphic media which exists in a temporal cultural context. The market reaction to this will be a good indicator of whether the particular title is acceptable.
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Rogier Voet IT Consultant 3 years ago
Australia is the new Germany it seems - why is it I never hear that other types of Media (tv, movies, comics, books, graphics novels) are denied a rating? But games are so evil that it must be kept away - idiots. I wonder what can be so awfull that the people in Australia are not allowed to see.

Just an idea to make a statement - a free prostitute/gigolo voucher for every adult Australian male/female who orders the uncensored International Edition.
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Tim Ogul Illustrator 3 years ago
They should release a "Whiny Babies Edition" of the game, which has all the blood turned into rainbows, big Batman-style "Pows" over any physical impacts, that sort of thing.
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Saying prostitution is "completely legal" in Australia is a bit of an exaggeration, and probably not quite true. I believe "registered brothels" are allowed, but in most states that's about it. I know in Victoria there are small areas which may be allowed for street prostitution.

In general, Australia is still a very conservative country - especially compared to Europe. It took years to get an official "R" rating, and people should be glad for that (otherwise lots more games would be RC).

I'm sure if Saints Row 4 is available digitally, there are easy ways around the RC to acquire it in Australia anyway...
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Philipp Nassau Student - Business Administration (M. Sc.) 3 years ago
@Rick Lopez

For good measure, it's actually just BPjM (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien). They're only responsible for games refused the 18+ rating by the USK (Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle) so about 1% of all cases. If games get on the BPjM (former BPjS) list they can still be bought by adults (18+) but not advertised or displayed. They get taken off automatically after 25 years or after a second review (which rarely happens). Then there's the games "banned" by the "Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution". Whole other ball game, usually stuff displaying nazi symbols, sometimes really rough cases like Manhunt. May not be sold at all and sometimes are called in for "collection" the same way illegal weapons or counterfeit money is making posession illegal in certain cases.

So yeah, we have it rough, too. We fought robots in Half Life...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Philipp Nassau on 26th June 2013 1:13am

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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
That said, the prohibition on graphic sexual content in games is ironic given that prostitution is completely legal in almost every state in Australia. So, I'm legally allowed to pay for sex but as an adult I can't see sex in a game...
That sounds like Walmart seveal years ago(I believe it was during last gen). They had a store-wide policy to ban all mature rated games due to all the school shootings. And yet they still sold shotguns, rifles, crossbows, knives and tons of ammunition in each store. After all, a plastic case with a manual and game disc is WAY MORE DANGEROUS than a loaded weapon or knife. I mean, it totally makes sense to me.
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises3 years ago
This sounds like the perfect grey market opportunity.

1. Buy game for $60.
2. Sell game to Australians over Ebay for $99.
3. Add $23 shipping.
4. Add $7 handling.
5. Gouge them for an additional 20% since they're used to it anyway.

That works out to $8,000,000 profit PER COPY! Imagine if you sold two...
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Michael Bennett Jack of all trades, master of some. 3 years ago
@Michael Shamgar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Australia

Although you can't serve alcohol in a Queensland brothel... So many rules!
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 3 years ago
@ Tim Ogul - I actually would quite like a campy-60s era action Batman game, "POW"s and all! :D
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