State of Decay refused classification in Australia

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 06:43 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Following Saints Row 4, State of Decay has reportedly earned the dubious honour of becoming the second game to be refused classification in Australia since the implementation of the R18+ ratings category.

“State of Decay has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board. We’ve run afoul of certain prohibitions regarding the depiction of drug use,” Jeff Strain wrote on the Undead Labs forums.

“We’re working with Microsoft to come up with options, including changing names of certain medications in the game to comply with ratings requirements. Whatever our path forward, it’s going to take a bit.”

Strain acknowledged fans frustrations but said Undead Labs will do everything it can to get the game to Australian players.

Microsoft later confirmed the classification result in a statement published on Kotaku.

“Today, State of Decay was given a Refused Classification (RC) rating by the Australian Classification Board, meaning that the game cannot be made available to Australian customers at this time. Microsoft is currently evaluating the options with regards to the title’s classification.

“Microsoft operates within the legal requirements of the Australian Classification Board when it comes to the rating of all its first party gaming titles and agrees that not all content is suitable for all audiences. The Australian Classification system plays an important role in ensuring that Australians can only access age appropriate games and content.”

Despite an earlier statement that the Board had not finalised its decision, the ACB eventually also confirmed the classification result. In a statement again supplied to Kotaku, the game’s problematic drug references were outlined; click hrough for the full report or view the choice parts below:

The game contains the option of self-administering a variety of ‘medications’ throughout gameplay which act to restore a player’s health or boost their stamina. These ‘medications’ include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, codeine, aspirin, ‘trucker pills’, painkillers and tussin. Of these, methadone, morphine, and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term “stimulant” is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed.

Consumption of the drug instantly increases a player’s in-game abilities allowing them to progress through gameplay more easily. The Applicant has stated that a ‘player can choose not to make any drugs or scavenge for them, but it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication’. In the Board’s opinion, the game enables the player’s character to self-administer proscribed drugs which aid in gameplay progression. This game therefore contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and should be Refused Classification.

Bethesda’s Fallout 3 was struck by similar problems way back in 2008, but resubmitted with changes to descriptions and drug names.

Australia introduced an R18+ ratings category on January 1 in order to clearly demarcate content intended for adults from that considered suitable for minors. The new category’s guidelines were not significantly relaxed from the older MA15+ category’s, but there was a popular misconception that the new rating would ‘allow the floodgates to open’ on content considered inappropriate under previous guidelines. Clearly, this is not the case.

Games which have been refused classification cannot be legally vended within Australia.