Publisher EA has lost its appeal against the Australian age rating board's refusal to classify zombie-themed sequel Left 4 Dead 2, forcing it to release a sanitised version of the game instead.
The original version of game was denied classification last month for containing "realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence". The ratings board concluded that "The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons under 18 years to play."
A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board were unanimous in their decision that the original ruling should not be overturned. "It was the Review Boards opinion that there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of general zombie figures and the human figures, as opposed to the clearly fictional infected characters," said a statement.
"This was a major consideration of the Review Board in determining the impact of this game on minors."
In Australia the maximum age rating for any game is 15+ and if a game proves unsuitable for this rating it is refused classification. Publishers have long campaigned for an 18+ rating, but Australian politicians have consistently blocked any such attempt.
South Australian attorney-general Michael Atkinson recently commented that: "It certainly does restrict choice to a small degree, but that is the price of keeping this material from children and vulnerable adults. In my view, the small sacrifice is worth it."
Developer Valve has already prepared a 15+ rated version of the game, in case the appeal against the original ruling failed, and this has already been passed by the ratings board. This version of the game does not contain "depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment".