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We Happy Few denied classification in Australia

Compulsion Games' title cannot be sold in the country in its current form

Compulsion Games' We Happy Few is the latest video game to be denied classification in Australia.

The Australian ratings board gave We Happy Few an "RC" yesterday. That stands for "refused classification", which means the game cannot be legally sold in the country.

As is typical in these cases, the reason for the denial is vague. The Australian ratings board cited part of the National Classification Code, which states that video 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."

That will be cold comfort to both Compulsion and Gearbox, which is publishing the game on console and PC. At the time of writing, neither company had released an official statement on the decision.

The most prominent recent example of a game being denied classification in Australia was Red Barrels' Outlast 2. In that case the rating was overturned, due to an apparent mistake regarding the version of the game submitted for classification.

In most instances, however, the games remain unavailable in Australia, or the developers are forced to make cuts to secure a release. The situation is divisive in political circles, due to what is seen as unfair treatment of video games compared to other media - it has even been openly criticised in the Australian Senate.

We Happy Few was first announced in 2015, and it has been available in Early Access since 2016. The final version will launch later this year.

Update: Compulsion Games has issued an official statement in which the studio reassures Australian backers and speculates as to the reason behind the refusal.

"As many of you may know by now, yesterday the Australian Classification Board chose not to classify We Happy Few, effectively banning We Happy Few from sale in Australia. We are looking into it, and have asked for more information on the decision.

To our Australian fans, we share your frustration. We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call."

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