Steam’s Australian portal has added a collection of previously-unavailable Rockstar games to its lineup, including the notoriously violent Manhunt. Rated at “refused classification” by the Australian Government’s Classification Board, the sale of Manhunt is illegal within Australia.
Manhunt was added to Steam’s Australian catalogue on Friday morning, along with other mysteriously unavailable titles Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Bully (Canis Canem Edit), Max Payne, Max Payne 2, and Midnight Club 2.
VG247 has contacted The Australian Communication and Media Authority and Valve for comment, and we’re awaiting official statements. RockStar Australia declined to comment at this time.
The Australian Classification Board gave the following statement:
The game Manhunt was refused classification on 29 September 2004.
It is an offence in all states and territories of Australia to sell, hire or demonstrate a computer game classified Refused Classification
As classification offences are established in the State and Territory enforcement legislation, it is the responsibility of the various States and Territories to police these matters.
A computer game classified RC would also be a prohibited import under Regulation 4A of the Customs Import Regulations. Any person importing an RC computer game into Australia needs to consider whether they are committing an offence.
The regulation of internet content is the responsibility of the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA). Questions related to internet regulation should be referred to this body.
Manhunt was originally released in Australia under the MA15+ rating, in November, 2003. Negative media attention later provoked a re-classification, during which the game was assessed as falling outside the permitted content of all available classifications, and in September 2004, retailers were required to remove stock from sale.
Steam’s store has previously complied with all refused classifications rulings, leaving banned games like Risen out of its Australian-facing store, and offering censored versions of others, including Valve’s own Left 4 Dead 2.
Australia’s highest video games ratings category is MA15+; films and literature have access to two higher ratings of R18+ and X18+. In 2010, the Australian government conducted a public consultation into the possible addition of an R18+ category for video games, followed by a federal review of the arguments and evidence for and against, which resulted in an a pro-R18+ recommendation.
The country now awaits a final decision from the Standing Committee of Attorney Generals, which opted to delay the decision at its last meeting.