Australian Ratings Board Refuses Left 4 Dead 2 (Again!)

After the Australian Classification Review Board first refused to classify Valve's zombie first-person-shooter Left 4 Dead 2, Valve appealed the government's decision.

Valve's Zombie shooter was refused classification, which means it can't be made commercially available in the country. Not quite the same as a banning, but it has the same effect.

As Valve told us earlier, the version of Left 4 Dead 2 rated by the Australian government is "the adjusted version". Valve's Gabe Newell told Kotaku Australia that this edited version, Australia-only version is "fully compliant with the guidelines" for a 15-years-old and up rating.

"We think Left 4 Dead 2 is a lot of fun," Newell said then. "It's a game for adults. But we're aware that different countries have different restrictions, and we want to make the choices that make the game the most fun for that country."

The recent decision reads:

According to the Classification Review Board, the game has been once again refused classification due to violence.

In the Review Board's opinion, Left 4 Dead 2 could not be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The computer game contains a level of violence which is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic within the context of the game.

In addition, it was the Review Board's opinion that there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of general zombie figures and the human figures, as opposed to the clearly fictional 'infected' characters. This was a major consideration of the Review Board in determining the impact of this game on minors.

Computer games classified RC cannot be sold, hired, advertised or demonstrated in Australia.

The Classification Review Board convened today in response to an application from the distributor of the computer game, Electronic Arts, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 15 September 2009 to classify Left 4 Dead 2 RC.


    Time to import

      Time to find out that its steam based game, time to find out steam has region locks, time to find out that you wont be able to play the game, time to get smart

    how is it that Bashcraft is reporting on an Australian issue before we get a write up from our own Wildgoose?
    Back on topic, awww nuts.

    '.....which means it can’t be made commercially available in the country. Not quite the same as a banning....'

    So that means if we import the uncut version there is no reason for customs to conviscate (spelling?) it?

      Yeah, i thought that 'cant be made commercially available in the country' is as good as a ban.. anyway... But seeing as they have classified a child's version of the game here, i reckon Customs are less likely to have any issues with any import copies coming in, if they do look at all.

      New Zealand wisely classified it as R18+ a couple weeks ago... will cost you about $120 from there. Not sure what it will cost you from Asia/EU.

      You can't legally import RC material. If Customs discover it, they'll 'destroy' it (read: take it home for themselves I bet). If it makes it through the doors and into the country, though, it's legal to possess it (as long as it doesn't break laws eg certain types of pr0n)

        Actually u can import banned games. I bought Silent Hill 5 from Canada as soon as I heard it was banned. Got it off ebay for the same price as here and 2 months earlier because here they were waiting for the 'revised' version. So if this was a PS3 game there wouldn't be ANY issue cause they're not region locked.

        Depends upon the state you live in - some state's legislation does make it illegal to possess RC material.

        Actually it's not illegal to own banned games in Australia, just sell them.

        Yeah cause customs have time to open and inspect every DVD shaped package coming into the country.. they then look the title up in a database and make sure its not RC.. Wake up dickhead, importation happens for games, no one has ever said they have not received their game..

        Oh and your wrong, it is illegal to possess media that has been refused classification..


    I know it's only a video game (and it's still going to be released), but it really sucks. Once more a single man's personal beliefs are inflicted on the rest of the country.

    I thought we were past this........

    So, submitted, refused, then edited, sumbitted, accepted, and then what, taken back for third time lucky and refused AGAIN? What the fuck is going on at the classification board! Check their lists and they let in all kinds of sick porn but they dont let in our game! Its insane!

      Nah dude, after they were refused the first time they appealed the first refusal and resubmitted a cut version as well. The appeal has now just been refused but the cut version was in fact approved.

        Yeah, as soon as the 1st version got refused classification, they decided to submit a cut version. However, they thought they would have one last crack and resubmit the original version WHILE they submitted a cencored version.

        They did this so that we will have a version either way... but with a slight chance of having the original. But this didn't work.

        Personally, i reckon they should've resubmitted the original first so that the classifications board wouldn't have anything to compare to. They probably saw this as "either the cut version or uncut version - pick one" rather than "this is the only version guys, lets have a REAL think about this"

        Valve are still in my good books for at least trying THAT much. They didn't really have to resubmit the original

      Jay: Nah this is the original version.

      Original version was RC, so they submitted a modified version, which was rated.

      Valve appealed the decision on the original version, which was again refused by the Review Board. That's what THIS news is... the modified version is still fine, and due to the failure of the appeal on the original RC, that's the one we'll be getting :-(

      Didn't Michael Atkinson explain this to you? It's because you can't stop kids from buying R18+ games. According to Atkinson, there is somehow a mental disability that makes game retailers incapable of asking for ID, but the video retailers are more evolved and trained to be so awesome they can ask for said ID.

      None the less, this article only supports my theory that someone on the ratings board is fighting from the inside. Stopping this game from release makes for annoyed gamers, and annoyed gamers are taking action to try and fix the broken ratings system. If they force the requirement that the only way this game gets released is with an R18+ rating in place, people just might make it happen.

        That is the biggest lie, im 16 but this guy at eb once asked me for an id and i was like wow really?, its the only time that ever happened, it was really weird.

        Except that every stupid "I want to take the baseball bat to Michael Atkinson the @#$#@%" post undoes 100 other sensible, reasoned posts that validly argue the need for a R18 rating.

      This was the appeal to let the full proper version through. Valve have a cut down kid safe version waiting in the wings which is already approved for release.

      sick porn doesn't kill people. violent video games do... apparently.

    Okay, so by the review board's reasoning they should go back and retroactively refuse classification to the original Left 4 Dead since the infected in that game are exactly the same as the infected in the second, meaning under 18s have been playing a game in which they cannot tell the difference between infected and normal humans for a year now. It's the lack of consistency that's infuriating.

      I think you'll find they aren't exactly the same, and anyway that's not how the system works. Now if Valve released DLC / patch etc that manifestly _changed_ L4D1 such that it would have originally been refused classification then the Classification Board would be obliged under legislation to revoke the MA15+ rating. Presumably they would have to be made officially aware of such a change via a complaint.

    EA will certainly be slashing their AU sales projections. UK/Sing/HK will be upgrading theirs.

    If gamers cannot build their headless-zombie mountains, there will be a lot of bypassing Aussie retailers, simple as that.

    I bought home a copy of borderlands this week, and while it has a ma15+ rating on the box, when i look at the disc there is a big 18 red circle on it. What baffles me is that the classification board can slap a MA sticker on things that are clearly for over 18's (borderlands isnt too bad, but screw it, make it 18+. Fallout 3 should be 18+. if i had children and wanted to let them play these games then thats up to me, as a parent. but if I want to play them then that is MY decision.)
    Australia is so backward - it lets games through that no 15yo should be allowed to watch, and even sticks their pissant excuse for a rating next to a big 18+ rating.
    baffling. the structure of my rant is useless but i am!

      I had a good laugh when I noticed the same thing on my Witcher: Enhanced Edition disks, with a big R18+ rating stamped on them!

      I was shocked to hear a work colleague's 12yr old son had clocked GTA IV. He walked straight in to a retail store and handed the cash over without a hitch. How's that for protecting the children! Way to go Atkinson!

      This 12yr old has been shooting police, doing drug deals, gambling, all because this was shoe-horned into the MA category. I didn't ask about sex with prostitutes, but my colleague didn't even care!

      At least with a R18+ category there's a much better chance of protecting minors from objectionable material! This is a complete mess, and what an embarrassment to this country. Talk about not doing your job right!!!

        Yes the store was wrong to sell it, but I'd say the bigger problem was your colleague not doing their job right. But then I don't know the parent or the kid, so it's not my say as to whether GTAIV is suitable in this case.
        (If it's not obvious, I'm of the opinion that parents should do the parenting, not the government or the stores...)

    It's not TOO big a deal. Remember we can just wait for a community mod to bring back the gore.

    Does anybody know if purchasing a copy of the game through Steam means we'll still get the censored version?

    Meh... some hacker will find that all the blood and gore are just mearly deactivated and someone will release an "unofficial patch" and we will have the blood and gore which Australian gamers deserve... Chough Chough

    ** I know this will only be for the PC **

    Hmmm where to import from? New Zealand, England or

    Importing it will not make a diference. Steam will still only show the level of classification the game has in that certain country. Just because you get it overseas you will still not get the full version only the edited one. Steam works with the guidelines of the classification board for each individual company.

      OMG, i cant believe how many people think that importing it is gonna make a difference >_<, its a fucking STEAM game, meaning that getting around the censorship is not gonna be as simple as importing...

        ...there are consoles other than the PC to purchase l4d2 on, namely the 3shitty, doopie. They'll import from NZ to dodge region locking, and MS doesn't have rules like steam.

    Sorry grammer mistake the last sentenced was meant to say "Steam works with the guidelines of the classification board for each individual country"

    I read some really f'ing ignorant comments on the US site last night. Some of those yanks are morons..

      well at least are government isn't as much of a nanny state as yours. we don't ban video games simply because their too violent. i swear that's all you aussies and europeans do is hate on americans.

    One brilliant game refused classification + Strong Aussie Dollar + import websites = a lot of money lost for Australian retailers.

    Most other PAL regions, uncluding the UK, have classified the uncensored version of the game so it's going to be dead (he he) easy to get a copy for roughly the price you'd pay at retail here.

    Thanks for taking the moral high ground OFLC. Hey look it's windy outside, why don't you head outdoors and just take the biggest whiz you can into that wind.


    i might get it off gamelane, its from asia and ive had bad experiences buying from asia but its cheep as shit and unedited.

    Just to clarify, does this prevent Valve from releasing a free patch for anyone who bought the game?

    Commercially, they're not selling a free patch right?

      The Classification Board doesn't rate downloadable online content. So Valve could release a patch that brings it all back, if they've catered for that. I'm sure a specific patch would violate the Act's guidelines, but were it included in a piece of DLC, say a map pack perhaps...

      Just like with the first DLC for GTA IV. It unlocked everything that was removed from the modified AU version! woohoo!

        Yeh, I'm hoping Valve will take that route. Pretty much the last chance Aussies will have of getting a complete and uncensored version.

    First, untill I can be guaranteed that the copy I get for my PC will be uncensored I will not pay any money for it, if that means pirating a game by one of my favourite developers so be it.

    Second I'm going on a trip to NZ (where they have not only a R18+ rating but also a R16+) around the time L4D2 is being launched, so if I were to take my laptop with me purchase and install L4D2 there and then return to Aus would I be able to play my uncensored version of L4D2 or upon opening steam would it auto detect my IP location and censor my game for me?

    Lastly could some one on Kotaku please write up a nice concise easy to follow guide for people who don't want censored games in Australia can follow to do something about it. There's always one or two people in the comments thread who can direct you to an online petition or something but it never gains any momentum because not enough people know about it and also beacause it's online petition.


      I've seen this logic a few times and I cannot make any sense of it at all, other than someone trying to legitimise their theft.
      Pirating a game because you only get the censored version does not benefit anyone.
      At best it will force the game developer to tame all their future releases so no country feels like they are missing out and turns to piracy.

      This classification issue has absolutely nothing to do with Valve, why take it out on them?
      In fact, Valve has taken the extra effort to create a version so we don't miss out entirely on the game, and yet you are going to punish them for it!?

        If I pirate a version it's because I've exhausted all other options, such as importing, a modder creating a patch or the us finally getting a uncensored version, but by purchasing a censored copy of this game I feel that I'd be supporting the Australian governemnts decision to censor the contents of our games.

        If I do pirate L4D2 it will be after 2 or 3 years and still having no choice but to purchase a censored version. If I do pirate a version it is not to punish valve but to show the government that by banning/censoring games they are encouraging piracy. The government can not prevent or discourage me from playing a game but they can prevent or discourage me from obtaining it via legitimate means.

        And I know this isn't fair to Valve I love the guys. But hell as far as I see it pirating a copy of L4D2 is more like downloading a demo as I won't have access to any of the dlc or online play and if after doing so a uncensored version becomes available for purchase in Australia I will happily go down to the store and pay for it.

        If I purachase a censored version of L4D2 I support Valve but it also sends a message perhaps not to Valve but maybe to other developers and definetely to game publishers that it is better for them to compromise their visions of a game so they will sell in Australia.

        And yes I know that this could still be taken as my way of justifying not having to pay for a game but the only times I have pirated a game has been when I haven't been able to obtain a copy anywhere and thanks to efforts of GoG I haven't had to pirate a game in a long time. And since the only verison of L4D2 I'm instersted in is the uncensored one and since my government refuses to let me pay for it I am forced to pirate it.

          Great comments Wave; (you can spell check before you click submit btw :p)

          For that very same logic, I have a copy of Risen in Australia.

    Some explain the meanings to "refused classification and banning" cause banning IMO would mean totally illegal to even possess in your own home if it was imported or something.

    If refused, are we able to import the game and play it if we get our hands on it and not get into any trouble.

    Also, would anyone know if MS would track someone in Australia playing the real version that we have been refused and ban them? They wouldn't care too much would they?? I'll be getting the 360 version obviously.

    I wonder if Valve tried putting in a violence lockout? The 360 honour lockouts when configured to.

    I think less QQ on forums/websites. Get these concerns and complaints into where it matters, parliament and official government business.

    Yes, it also boggles me that 12-15 year olds are playing (any iteration of) GTA, but we can't shoot undead zombies.

    Killing humans for money, drugs and sleeping with prostitutes is some how LESS DESTRUCTIVE to youths than killing Mythical Creatures with modern 'weaponry'.

    (face it, zombies aren't real = myth, fairy tail, horror stories, etc)

    oh noes!!!

    On one level it pleases me that Left 4 Dead 2 is constantly pleased entry. Serves it right for being made a jerk company that spits on the ps3. Left 4 dead 2 should be the martyr that spurs others in power to see just how stupid the lack of an R18 is. Fallout 3 was a pretty damn high impact game (What with the limbs and heads being blown apart).

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