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Saint’s Row 4 refused classification in Australia, publisher responds

Tuesday, 25th June 2013 09:01 GMT By Dave Cook

Saint’s Row 4 has been refused classification in Australia, which mans it can not be sold across the country or displayed in retail stores in any capacity. The Australian Classification Board has issued a statement on the matter.

UPDATE: Saint’s Row 4 publisher Deep Silver has issued a statement to Joystiq, confirming it is re-working the game for Australia. Volition hopes to remedy some of the Classification Board’s concerns so that the title can be sold on Australian shores.

Here’s the 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.”

ORIGINAL STORY: PlayerAttack reports that The Australian Classification Board’s acting director, Donald McDonald has said of Volition Inc’s sandbox title:

“In the Board’s opinion, 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.”

Under the body’s guidelines, Saint’s Row 4 is being refused classification as it, manages to, “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.”

The series is known for crossing grey areas of taste, but has largely been spared the ban-hammer in most quarters. The game was set for release in Australia from August 22.

Saint’s Row 4 will still release on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 across North America from August 20, and across Europe August 23.

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39 Comments

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  1. MarcoosVGC

    I’m sorry, didn’t they bring in a new rating just for games like this?!

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 correct.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. JackThomas

    Sigh… even after all that rating debacle they went through. Well done, Australia. Its games are sky high expensive too.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Bam007

    So much for a fucking R18+ rating! Importing the game from the UK (like I did Fallout 3, GTA IV and Blitz: The League) and risking whatever to enjoy it.

    Fuck you Australian Government!

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    What a bunch of purple dildos.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. ps3fanboy

    this game to strong for australia, LOL!

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Digital Bamboo

    Were I the developer, I’d take this as a compliment, & try to put a positive spin on it. Use it in advertising. “The game so outrageous, it was banned in Australia!”

    Side note: What the hell, Australian ratings board? They’re telling ADULTS they can’t buy this? Are movies like Pulp Fiction banned too, or just games?

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Bam007

    @7 mainly video games. I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing a movie refused classification. So sad to be honest. As an adult, you are told what you can and can’t enjoy.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. Digital Bamboo

    @8 Oh, it’s just games; I’m not sure if that’s better or worse.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. FrayJoker

    There have been a few movies not allowed to be released here. Mostly those with real sex scenes. Margaret Pomeranz was famously arrested at a protest screening of one such banned movie, Ken Park.

    This is just so much bullshit. Keep trying to calm down about it, but every time I think about it I just see red. Okay, this is the first time I’ve seen sexual violence mentioned in the context of this game, and I’m not thrilled about that. But in a pluralist democracy, I should have the right to make my own decisions.

    This is everything we fought against for years, and everything the new laws were supposed to prevent. This is absolutely fucking worthless, and I am just livid.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. Fin

    Everyone needs to calm the fuck down.

    If SR4 does indeed contain “visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context”, I’ve no issue with it being banned.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. silkvg247

    I don’t understand any government that decides it can censor things from adults.. if I were an Auzzie I’d be rallying protesters.. it’s downright condescending and insulting.

    Also I very much doubt a SR game has actual sexual violence.. unless they mean beating people to death with a large dildo. If a game gets banned for that then I truly feel sorry for the people of Australia. They need to perhaps get some non geriatrics on their classification board, people who actually have a clue.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. NeoSquall

    @11 It’s Saints Row, it doesn’t make sense, in the actual video games standard, since the third chapter.

    And I’m fine with it.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. SplatteredHouse

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.guidebook.com/upload/7935/EXPO_HALL.jpg let’s hope that PAXAustralia deposit’s refundable, for the Aussie publisher’s sake.

    The Australia classification board, in person: http://www.classification.gov.au/About/BoardMembers/Pages/Classification-Board-Members.aspx
    THAT is, potentially, some generational hurdle. (thanks, GAF for the links)

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=66136781&postcount=48 < ACB, they like (to deny classification for) their bugbears :/

    "includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence" @12's comment tied to that, brought to mind Clockwork Orange's murder by phallic statue sequence, which pretty much would fit that description, if it were featured in a game ("interactive").

    #14 1 year ago
  15. SplatteredHouse

    “When making decisions about computer games, the Classification Board must use the criteria set out in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games Act) 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games”

    Maybe Brenna can find out, later, why they’re making assessments based on criteria that was relevant around the time of the Super NES?

    #15 1 year ago
  16. The_Red

    And there I was thinking that Aussie government finally stopped being the biased, stupid, uneducated, clueless and worthless central body that it used to be when it comes to games

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Bam007

    I just sold my PAX tickets. Screw that! Microsoft showing Xbox One behind a glass wall and Saints Row IV refused classification, not much point in attending.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. SplatteredHouse

    @17: That’s too bad. I noticed you posted before that you were excited about going to PAX, again, since they announced the Xbox One was going to be there. But, now you…what, found out they’re just going to let attendees look at the box?! I’m sorry, but… wtf Microsoft! xD

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Digital Bamboo

    I just don’t get this. Could an arguement not be made that movies are, to some degree “interactive” too: pause, rewind, looping, zooming, slow-mo, etc. I don’t see the distinction here.

    So they’re going to edit/censor it now, that’s fucking great. I wonder how SR4 will turn out in South Korea, where they edit movies to blur frontal nudity below the waist.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. SplatteredHouse

    @19 Have you played Saints Row before? Exposed genitals are always blurred in that series, anyway.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Sylrissa

    Guess I’ll have to import this after all, I thought we wouldn’t have to deal with censored versions anymore like our version of L4D2

    #21 1 year ago
  22. Bam007

    @18 well I am assuming that the XB1 will be behind a glass wall. From what I can gather, it won’t be playable, so you may as well keep it in an enclosure of some sort. :p

    And yes I was really excited for PAX. First one outside of the United States. =[

    Having just read that Volition and Deep Silver are to censor the content, well thanks Australian Government for making me feel like an adult and deciding for myself! No Russian (Modern Warfare 2 airport terminal level) passed with flying colours, but this is blocked?

    #22 1 year ago
  23. Fin

    So, just for the record, you all have no issue with “visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context”.

    Yay inclusive medium.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. The_Red

    @23
    No. Also, you are implying that explicit murder and graphic kills without justified context is somehow less ok than what you described (Most shooter games).

    All those things are horrible in real life and should be punished but this is FANTASY. People DON’T REALLY KILL others in games.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. varg666

    Dose anyone outside of australia know that when you buy a region free cdkey gives you an uncut of this game for steam?

    #25 1 year ago
  26. Fin

    @24

    Well it depends on the context don’t it. Like I thought some of the violence in SR2 (last one I played) was nasty and excessive.
    You can’t equate shooting someone in an FPS to “murder” – I had issue with Manhunt, cos it was nasty violence. Violence in most games is cartoon-like.

    Sexual violence is never ok bro.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. Ireland Michael

    @23 Im sorry, but hitting people with a purple dildo is funny in a video game.

    Unless there are actual scenes of rape or molestation in the game, this is just the Australian Classifications Boards being their usual uptight selves..

    #27 1 year ago
  28. xxJPRACERxx

    @23 I don’t care at all. They could develop a rape simulator, a murder simulator, a simulator where you take a shit on people’s faces… Could be ultra-realistic and sadistic and “which are not justified by context” I don’t care.

    I can make the difference between this and real life and it’s not because I rape a girl, kill her and chopped her to bits in a game or watch it in a movie that I’m gonna do the same for real.

    So no, I don’t care at all and I just fucking hate people that want to control what I can and cannot do in my own fucking home.

    #28 1 year ago
  29. Fin

    @27

    I really, really, really doubt it’s just hitting people with a purple dildo – that can hardly be classed as “implied sexual violence”.

    @28

    Nice bro. A rape simulator. And you’d have no problem with it. Nice!

    How could anyone ever think gamers were sexist misogynists eh? Boggles the mind.

    #29 1 year ago
  30. dizzygear

    @29 Calm the fuck down. “implied sexual violence” could also simply mean SM. Which is banned in some country’s as well.

    #30 1 year ago
  31. DSB

    I’d rather have rape simulators in stores than suffer a government who thinks it gets to define “propriety accepted by reasonable adults”.

    What a load of horseshit. It’s a license to ban whatever a small group of privileged adults fail to understand or appreciate.

    #31 1 year ago
  32. Fin

    @31

    Dude, you ever heard of an age classification system?

    #32 1 year ago
  33. DSB

    @32 In more progressive countries those exist to advise people, not to decide on their behalf.

    Which isn’t to say that those classification systems aren’t motivated by ignorant paranoia and a delusional belief that you can actually control media by slapping a sticker on it, but that’s a different discussion.

    #33 1 year ago
  34. The_Red

    @Fin
    I don’t have a problem with Manhunt or any other thing but here’s the thing: I agree with a proper age classification system that COVERS EVERYTHING. If there is a fantasy rape simulator, it should have its separate rating BUT refusing to rate something forces the creator / artist to censor themselves.

    With this disgusting government / rating body is doing is forcing censorship indirectly. That’s the same with AO ban on consoles and why the original version of Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy was only released on PC (The director’s cut).

    #34 1 year ago
  35. Fin

    @33

    Er, age classification is a censorship system, you realise that? Like if something is refused classification, it gets banned?

    @34

    Fahrenheit’s AO rating was bullshit (an interactive sex scene – it was rated 15s in Europe), so was San Andreas’ (same, remained an 18 in Europe). There’s a difference between a sex scene and sexual violence.

    So where’s the line? Do you think anything can be produced, and can be sold, if it comes with an appropriate warning?

    #35 1 year ago
  36. SplatteredHouse

    @35 your mistaken belief is that is how it’s supposed to be.

    #36 1 year ago
  37. The_Red

    @Fin
    That’s my problem. The age classification acts as a censorship mechanism because that version of Faren couldn’t get a release in US on PS2 or Xbox (MS and Sony refuse AO games). To me, there is no difference in the grand scheme of things. Of course consensual sex is a beautiful, natural and awesome thing while the forced sex is unhumane, disgusting and absolutely wrong but both things were about fantasy.

    To me, there is no line as long as the product is about imaginary things, whether it’s a murder simulator (Manhunt 1) or a plumber killing mushrooms (Mario). ANYTHING should be allowed as long as it has proper rating (Meaning that rating systems should extend to anything).

    Of course I know there are some creepy and crazy stuff in Japan that are almost crossing the line of legality but as long as there are digital, polygonal models we’re talking about, ANYTHING is allowed no matter how much me, you or someone else might be put off by it. They had a game called Rapelay or something and it really was as horrible as it sounds but to me, hearing it get banned was even worse.

    #37 1 year ago
  38. DSB

    @35 As far as I know only British and Australian rating boards have a history of doing so.

    The ESRB and PEGI will rate anything they’re given.

    It’s quite a problematic practice for a number of reasons though. Gay sex is often deemed significantly more offensive than straight sex by most ratings boards, which is exactly why you should never leave a small group of people with that kind of influence.

    #38 1 year ago
  39. xxJPRACERxx

    @35 “So where’s the line? Do you think anything can be produced, and can be sold, if it comes with an appropriate warning?”

    Yes! We can make our own decisions if we want to play/watch/listen/read it or not.

    #39 1 year ago