Nintendo Blame THQ For Dead Or Alive's Classification Issues

We've now spoken to both the Australian Classification Board and Nintendo regarding the classification of Dead or Alive Dimensions. The game has now been put in the unique position of having its classification revoked by the Australian Classification Board, and we now have more details on precisely why that has occurred.

"This game was classified PG on 8 February 2011 with consumer advice ‘mild violence and sexualized gameplay’," claimed a spokesperson from the Classification Board. "Information provided to the Board last week suggested that the game contained content not drawn to the Board’s attention in the original classification application.

"After considering the response to a show cause notice issued last Thursday, the Board made the revocation decision.

"Dead or Alive: Dimensions is now unclassified and cannot be sold in Australia unless it is re-submitted for classification."

We also spoke to Nintendo regarding the situation. According to Nintendo the fault lies with THQ, who were initially set to distribute the game in Australia. According to a Nintendo rep, THQ did not provide "adequate information" for the initial classification.

"In relation to why Dead or Alive Dimensions has had its classification revoked," began the Nintendo rep, "THQ had already submitted the game for classification by the time we decided to take over distribution, and they hadn't provided adequate information for the classification.

"Nintendo has now submitted a new classification. The game has not been banned, it will receive a new classification as soon as the Classification Board process the new classification.

"Dead or Alive Dimensions will not be on-sale until it has been reclassified."


Comments

    Aren't the classification board supposed to, you know... rate the game based on what's there, not what the publisher says?

    BREAKING NEWS: DUKE NUKEM FOREVER RATED G after 2K Australia assures the classification board that 'Duke Nukem' is a new breed of rose, and the game is about swaying gently in a breeze for as long as possible.

      Ha! Sweet as, Duke Nukem is now rated G!

        No, it's rated T, for TROLL. Which Hogwarts tells me is worse than an F

      I beleive it's the responsibility of the publisher to point out any risque content, and it's the classification board's job to figure out a rating for that content.

      Anyone who wants to know how the assessment process works can look here:
      http://www.ag.gov.au/www/cob/classification.nsf/Page/Industry_ApplyforClassification_SubmittingMaterialtotheClassificationBoard

      http://www.ag.gov.au/www/cob/classification.nsf/Page/Industry_ApplyforClassification_ApplyforClassification-ComputerGames

      I was an authorised assessor of games, which is effectively a playtester who is trained in classification, who plays the game and reports back with a detailed report of any classification issues with the game. So it is not true that the games never get played, as such, and you have to take yearly refresher courses to be kept abreast of classification law.

    This just makes ne wonder exactly what the Classification Board does when they are given a game to review. Obviously they don't play every last minute of the game to make sure that their decision is correct, but what information is given to them in order for them to make the decision?

    More importantly, what information was apparently unavailable to them at the time of classification?

      I assumed they had game testers also.

      Im pretty sure classification works in that.

      The company makes a highlight reel of stuff they believe that would push them into that rating area.

      I believe most of it is done by video presentation.

      So they say well these are the three most violent moments of the game. what do you think they should be rated. Or something to that effect.

      And the logic is that the publisher will be upfront about these things because if they aren't and something like this were to happen they end up with a bunch of stock in a region that they can no longer sell.

      This pandering is ridiculous though

      The venerable ACB absolutely does not play the games they classify. The publishers are required to present a briefing on the most extreme content in the game, and there's usually a video presentation.

      To be clear: The ACB's staff -DO NOT- play the games presented.

      Mark, if you'd be so kind as to snare a member of the ACB and get an interview on their practices, that'd be great, as it seems that many people don't know how their own censorship bureau operates.

        I think the problem is that we assumed there was a shred of common sense involved in the classification process. How canthey accurate gauge the severity of a game if there is little context provided?

    You guys realise that the Classification Board doesn't actually play the games. The publisher is supposed to provide information about the game's worst/most extreme bits for the Board to rate.

      This is why savy developers are able to slip things past the OFLC that other people get canned for, case in point Left 4 Dead 2.

      The dozen or so games that featured zombies getting dismembered went to great lengths to identify the enemies in the game as monsters, mutants, demons, generally something not human.

      Valves distributor to Australia, a new team, were apparently unfamiliar with our draconian censorship laws and submitted the game describing the creatures as 'humans infected with a virus', and bam, just like that, the game gets refused classification. You can't have humans getting dismembered in a first person game.

      That's how mother flippin stupid our censorship rules are.

      You realise that the games are played right? the ACB are very strict in their playtesters and pull from a variety of people. If they were only given the worst bits then a game being classified would be no different than a movie. I really find it offensive that you think the government would just allow a process of "here's an example of our game, but you can't play it" "based on that 1 clip that game is unclassifiable"
      This can be shown in the existing rules wherein violence and sex must be in context, I don't know about you but 99% of people cannot get context of an entire game from a single clip. Please get your facts straight before attempting to convert people to the opinion that the ACB don't do their job correctly. I say this as a huge fan of MK, GTA and L4D and as much as those decisions pained me, the ACB did their job

    The ACB don't play any games at all; they rely on publisher/licenser provided information and video footage.

    Mark, maybe you could interview someone from the ACB and have a discussion about their processes? It seems that many people here aren't aware of how their own government's classification process works!

      This is a great idea.

      There's far too much unnecessary criticism of an organisation that's just doing the job the legislation sets down for it.

      This just highlight the absurdity of it all. That's like classifying a movie based on reading selected portions of the script -no watching the movie please-

        I used to be involved in the classification process, and we did on occasion play the games in question. The board is small, often there are only 10-15 people to handle about 7000 classifications a year. The law is that the publishers had to show us the 'highest classifiable content'. With games, of course we have to rely on publishers to show us that directly, rather than discovering it through gameplay. It would be pretty much impossible to play through every single aspect of a game to discover every possible scenario. It would take so long that games would never receive a classification in time.
        So, the games do get played, but not often, for pretty solid reasons. Part of the clssification requirements are below:

        ____
        If you are applying for a classification of a game, include a disc showing examples of game-play illustrating the highest classifiable elements of the game. This will be a great help to the Classification Board and potentially speed up the classification process.
        Game code should be provided in a format which is ready to be played. If you are unsure what formats are acceptable, please refer to the list of acceptable formats for the submission of computer games, or contact our technical support team at [email protected] or 02 9289 7115.
        Gameplay footage and any other documents should be provided on a separate disc. Please do not put video files on the same disc as the game code.

          I understand there are practical reasons. However, that does not make it adequate, and I believe my comparison stands.

          My point is that there is a fundamental difference between watching a game and playing a game. Its not the same experience, by any means, hence my analogy.

          Let's say the highest classifiable content on a game is a fairly horrible act, but said act is the conclusion of a build up that gives it meaning. How can it be classified out of context?

          I know the classification board can barely cope with the current load, which is why mobile games "fly under the radar". This is not good.

          Those are the reasons I am a strong advocate of self regulation for games, with an appropriate complaints process.

    What happens if the game gets a PG rating again?

      People stop buying it... as a marketing campaign to draw attention to a game its been quite successful.

    So with the classification board they view every movie they review in its entirety but games they just take the developers word for it?

      To be fair a movie takes at most 3 hours (Lord of the Rings for example) but games can be 20+ hours.

    I personally blame the american Kotaku if this game gets banned... they ran a story about it being banned in Scandinavia but having a PG rating here, then a few days later news.com.au ran a pretty much identicle articleand no doubt it spread from there.

    If the media wasnt to say anything the ratings board wouldnt have known.

    Plus hasnt the premise of every DoA game have been prettymuch the same??? why is this one any special??? OH NOES... 3D BOOBIES... someone please think of the children.

    PS... FYI i know boobs arent the issue here.

    Another classification issue to get the uneducated on this blog riled up.

    And as its been said, no they don't play the games. I remember a few years ago when working for Playtime we helped Zaxs Amusements create a 30 minute video of World Combat so we could submit it for classification

    As the level of absurdity here reaches new heights, I can see something positive to take away.

    "...game contained content not drawn to the Board’s attention". This is a golden nugget. Its a clear, unambiguous admission that the board classifies games based on what the publishers tell them, not what's actually in the game.

    If this is not an argument for self regulation I don't know what is.

    The committee reviewing the Australian classification system should look at this and admit that we already have a self regulating system of sorts, and that any game that is misclassified can be reviewed after public complaints.

    They already know that, when considering mobile gaming, there is no way -ever- that the ACB can deal with the avalanche of games going on sale.

    Self regulation is the only way forward. Its what we really have today, but because we don't admit it, mobile gaming continues to fly under the radar.

    Having said that, the game isn't misclassified. The series has been around since 1996, There's 13 games in it, all of which have been legal to sell in OZ. The characters do not age. The girls always have been heavily sexualized. Heck, three of the games are nothing but a thin gameplay coat over a virtual peep show, and you could also pan the camera over the posing characters. So somebody finally read the manual and figured that some characters are listed under 18. They do not look or behave under 18. Its a statistic in their bios along with have a dozen other facts -which constitutes the entire bio-

    To reclassify or ban would be the pinnacle of ridicule for the ACB.

    So lemme get this straight, games are meant to have "greater impact" then a movie, because you're actually playing the game, not just watching a movie, however the classification is done based on watching a movie of the game, not playing it? So how can the true "impact" be known? The ACB goes "well, watching the movie of the action makes me feel X, so I think that if I were doing the action to make the game do that, I would feel Y, so the game gets rating Z". I don't have a problem with the ACB not playing through a game in its entirety before giving a ruling, and just getting a snapshot of the best.. I mean most graphic bits. But if people are going to make the argument that playing it leads to a greater impact, why are those people not insisting that the ACB play the games? And I don't mean play the entire game, have the dev whip up some kind of demo version that runs through the be... most graphic bits. If the argument against that is "these people aren't able to play the games" then my counter is "these people aren't qualified to rate the game"

    I've got a feeling this isa genius move by THQ. I think that distributors are jsut as pissed off as end users (gamers) the ACB's decisions. I hope that this was intentional by THQ to draw the public's attention to the poor job being performed by the ACB and maybe, like Mortal Kombat being a sacrifice, Dead or Alive will be sacrifice that eventually gets us our equilibrium between gamers and the ACB.
    On the other hand, it's completely ridiculous that THQ would, knowing all the troubles we've had in the past L4D2 & GTA3 anyone?, go out of their way to remove their PG rating.

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