Saints Row IV is officially “refused classification” in Australia, meaning that the upcoming game from Deep Silver and Volition, Inc. is banned banned in the country. It’s the first game to be rejected since the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games, a move that brought an end to years of debate over the nation’s censorship of interactive entertainment.
Ratings decisions in the United States are handled by an independent body known as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which classifies games based on their content. Those ratings are handled by the government in Australia, and the Australian Classification Board determined that some of the content in Saints Row IV goes beyond what is acceptable and refused to rate it, according to GamesIndustry.
“Saints Row IV, includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context,” the board’s statement reads. “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.”
For years Australia lacked an equivalent to the ESRB’s Mature rating for video games, thanks in large part to former Attorney General Michael Atkinson, who blocked the classification from being introduced on principle. Before the introduction of the R18+ rating, game developers and publishers were often forced to alter their games before they could be released in Australia. That’s exactly what Saints Row IV publisher Deep Silver and Volition plan to do.
“Deep Silver can confirm that Saints Row IV was denied an age classification in Australia,” the publisher said in a statement. “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 [in the U.K.] and ESRB M [U.S.] ratings where fans can enjoy their time in Steelport as originally intended.”