Valve Appealing, Editing Left 4 Dead 2 for Aussie Classification

Valve Appealing, Editing Left 4 Dead 2 for Aussie Classification

In Sydney today, Gabe Newell revealed the steps Valve is taking to ensure Left 4 Dead 2 eventually goes on sale in Australia.

Three weeks ago, Left 4 Dead 2 was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board on the grounds that the game “contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 to play.”

While Valve admitted they were “pretty bummed” by the decision, they have pushed forward in an effort to get the shooter sequel into the hands of Aussie gamers.

Speaking at a press conference in Sydney today, Valve’s Gabe Newell confirmed reports that they had appealed the original decision. Newell said the Review Board would announce their findings on October 22.

“I thought Left 4 Dead 2 would get the same treatment as Left 4 Dead 1,” said Newell. “So I was a little surprised [by the decision] .”

The move to appeal a Classification Board decision is not without precedent, as Warner Bros. proved earlier this year with F.E.A.R. 2. The Review Board granted an MA15+ rating for that game after it was initially refused classification.

Newell also revealed that an edited version of Left 4 Dead 2 had been submitted via the standard classification process. Newell said he thinks this Australian-only version is “fully compliant with the guidelines” for an MA15+ rating. The Board’s classification decision on this edited version is expected to be announced later today.

“We think Left 4 Dead 2 is a lot of fun,” said Newell. “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 decision to submit an edited version was made to ensure Left 4 Dead 2 met its planned November release date. Given that the Review Board will not report back on the appeal until October 22, it means there may not be enough time to get the unedited version on sale for the global launch.

Newell confirmed that if the edited version is released, then the Australian version would receive an update if the appeal proves successful. This would be free on PC, but he said he did not yet know how it might work on Xbox 360.

However, Newell stressed that this edited version is just a back-up plan in case the appeal fails or takes longer than expected. “Our goal is not to ship this second version,” he claimed, while declining to detail what elements had been edited.

Hopefully we’ll find out in two weeks time whether we’ll see the edited or the unedited version in Australia.


  • It’s awesome how companies like these are willing to edit their games to ensure a release in Australia, it shows that they do really care about their consumers.

    It’s not so awesome that the OFLC has pretty much forced them to remove content.

    • I think you’ll find that companies are generally more worried about their profits…

      Good to finally hear some news about this and that a plan is in action.

      • err….i hope your being sarcastic. In case you aren’t (i didnt say your not its just i cant tell), the actual percentage of minors that make up aussie gamers is under 50% of the gaming population. Also the average age of a gamer in australia is 28.

    • I’m not entirely sure if you’re being sarcastic or not but that’s too big of a suggest *not* to bite =P

      If you are actually suggesting that 99.3% of gamers in Australia are under 18 please back it up with at least a shred of proof.

      If you’re havin a joke then yeah… well done.

    • dude. easy on the jokes, it is actually sad that WE cannot get the uncensored version….but it actually was nice tha mod.
      but really dude is actually annoying that people makes jokes about our f*&^ed up classification board…
      BTW IM 13

    • Actually the average age of Australian gamer is 30 … proven .. so why do we still not have an r-18+ rating? cause some old religious relic in south Australia wont vote with the rest of the states atterny generals so we cant have adult games for an adult market.. every person over 18 dosent get to play the games designed for them ,, and so more violence makes it into ma15+ to corrupt our children.. end rant

  • Hmm. Whilst i applaud Valve for taking Australia seriously, submitting an edited version to the OFLC before the review board has a decision seriously undermines the process.

    The review board could now see that an edited version has been approved and thus decide that we will continue to ban the unapproved one on grounds that its not economically impacting you and the game will be made available to Australians.

    I think its a case of one step forward two steps back on this one. Dave, it might be worth yourself investigating whether the review board takes into account edited versions on appeal processes.

    To go to the review board you as a company have to declare you do not agree with the decision and thus have appealed it. For you to then build an edited version, can indicate a perception that you do agree and are happy to edit.

    I think this is going to hurt them. I fully anticipated L4D2 uncut to pass the Review Board (as these guys are a lot more leniant, and totally independant of the Government unlike the OFLC who take a pay check from the Government every 2 weeks) but now i am not so sure.

    • It’s my understanding that the Review Board – a separate panel, independent of the Classification Board responsible for the original ruling – assess the game in isolation and do not review the findings of the earlier classification decision.

      • too be honest, i would rather valve or any other major games company didn’t pander to our problem of not having a R18+ rating system.

        i can miss a few games as long as we get an R18+ system.

  • can someone please let Gabe know about the loop hole… like GTA 4 did with the lost and damned content, all the goodie were unlocked that we missed out on on launch that other countrys got to see. just launch the edited version and within a day or too release content for it, like the ‘shotgun comes in pink’ content, and just replace all the stuff we are missing out on… because they can’t rate online stuff!

    • didn’t they also do something with the pc version where it was unedited because it was already out on ps3 and 360 they were allowed release the pc version under the same rating but they unedited everything.
      Am i right here or am i imagining things?

      • The PC version of GTA IV was uncensored but it has its own entry on the Classification Board website…meaning that they must have rated it independently of the console versions.

  • So long as an imported full version is playable with the edited Australian version.
    Im not paying for censored crap.

  • Just submit the same version again and hope they dont notice. I dont like the idea of playing edited stuff, i feel like my rights as an adult are violated.

  • I refuse to play edited content, and untill a unedited version is available will not purchase the game.

  • What are the restrictions on editing a game once its been released? If Valve decided to release a patch of the edited one the patch doesn’t need to be rated.. or are they simply risking having it ‘pulled from shelves’ like GTA3 was?

    In anycase the beauty of Valve games is that patch or otherwise there will be a mod to readd the missing content.. we still win..

    • If they patch the game or add DLC such that there is now content which is more contentious than what was reviewed, they are obligated to resubmit to the classification board.

      It is my understanding that most major publishers in Australia would have staff who had completed the necessary classification board training to assist in such assessments.

      Whether they would (or could) try to get away with “the patch is only available online” to get around it, I doubt, considering the game itself will be on sale within Australia in a boxed version, not just online. Major publisher’s aren’t likely to risk the fines considering there’s little up side for them.

  • it would be nice if everyone commenting on these censorship stories wrote to the attorneys general and the home affairs office to let them know the common opinion – i doubt any of those guys read kotaku.

  • Is this really an “appeal” if they have submitted an edited version of the original product in order to obtain a higher classification?

    I would have called this a resubmission.

  • Thanks for showing us this, David. It’s great to see that L4D2 has .01% chance of the majority allowing it to go through, and if not, there is a backup plan.

    If the game violence was edited back down to L4D1 standards, any random person could make a mod that brings it up to it’s current level, right?
    That, and other loopholes.

    • It might not be that easy. The process just to get a custom weapon skin working online in L4D1 is intentionally pretty long and complicated. I don’t think it was even meant to be possible.

      It would be nice if what you suggest turns out to be true though – or if the appeal is accepted 🙂

      • That’s completely untrue. If you know what you’re doing you can get a custom weapon out in a day.

        The problem is there aren’t a lot of people that know what they’re doing.

        I’m sure all you will need to do is paste a few txt files from an unedited version and maybe some bsps. Maybe some mdls. Maybe some materials they deleted, but I doubt they deleted them, just disabled them.

        I’m sure they haven’t really edited any of the map files, they just made them run a txt that says “disable this entity, and that entity” and then all the dead bodies are gone. Then the client side effects are just a txt file edit away. Which just has the lines commented out rather then deleted.

        But if you’re on a console you’re probably fucked, but who cares? Your fault for buying a console version of a moddable PC game.

  • I don’t own a 360, but here’s my two cents, if they have to go with the edited version, then release the gore and dismemberment, whatever was cut out, on XBLA and charge something like 50c for it.

    Charging for it means kids can’t just download it for free.

    I think it’s safe to say most kids don’t have credit cards of their own, and would have to ask their parents to buy it for them. This is a couple of notches better than some kid who buys it from a store without showing ID or parent permission.

    The parents who DO buy them for their kids are obviously responsible for their child and are atleast aware of the content.

    I know there are some adults out there who don’t have a credit cards and in that case, it’s not too much hassle to find a friend who does and is willing to spare 50c or whatever.

    Reasonable enough no?

  • If we’re lucky and the unedited version gets through, I think it would be wise to purchase it as quickly as possible. I’ve got a nagging feeling a self righteous community do gooder will try to get the media and politicians involved and we all know how that turns out. 🙁 The good side of that is the R18+ debate is back on the front page agenda like it or not Mr Atkinson. 🙂

  • Here’s hoping to the appeal comes through or an R rating, I’m happy now anyway, L4D2 wasn’t just about the game its about the support Valve gives you in their games, because as you can see they care, they fly here to appeal and also look at a Aussie creators work with their game. Banning the game ment no support for people here to play and maybe even work, I’m glad this is going to be over quite soon.

  • This Gabe Newell guy is making some sense! They are appealing the unedited version before they come in with the edited version. It gives us one more chance at the full version as it was meant to be! It’s better than just saying “whatever, lets edit it, and shove it on the market anyway”.

    Valve really do care about us australians!

  • Good to finally hear Valve trying to get around this issue, hopefully someday we will get a higher rating in AUS. As for the edited version, go ahead if you like, guarantee that someone will make a patch for the PC version to unlock all the gory content, and I’ll happily buy an uncut copy from the UK for xbox. I did it before for GTA4 and it actually turned out cheaper than in store prices.

  • there it is Australia. cos of the shitty system we’re now “special needs country”.

    That importing option is looking brighter and brighter by the second.

    Don’t blame me, I’m just a 23 yr old trying to play what’s rightfully suitable for me.

  • I really think the industry should show that they aren’t going to pander to our government. It’ll be bad for us in the short term, but pressure needs to be put on how important an R rating is. I have to say, it might kick a bit of apathy out of the gaming community as a whole on this issue. Whether your a parent or not, if your a mature gamer we need this.
    After all, there’s plenty of options for us to import in the meantime. To show that it means a loss of revenue on our shores, both from importing and illegally downloading.

  • i wounder if it would be a case of just editing cvars like the cs low violence version, and all you had to do to get full violence was change or remove the cvars from certain conifgs 😛 example cvars bring it back to the CS we know and love i doubt valve would actually remove assets i would assume it would all be to do with cvars 🙂 so i wouldnt worry about valve censoring

  • I have a query, maybe someone can help.
    If i purchase the U.S dvd boxed version for example from an overseas site.

    Will it work with steam when i actually install it? or will it know my region and not let me actually play it?
    Had to ask, its been bugging me…


    I guarantee there will be a fan made patch within days of it’s release that restores our version to the unedited one, it always happens, just look at the witcher 😛

  • “The board notes that the game no longer contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment”

    ok, so the only thing this game had going for it over the original was the inclusion of more violent and AWESOME weapons, and now they have modified it to be LESS violent than the original?


  • it says a game for adults but really the range of age for buying this game/games is from 12 to 21 so its not a game for just adults and im 14 and im gunna go buy it for sure

  • valve is going to lose a hell of a lot of money with this, and they’re definitely gonna get a S*&% load of hate mail, and to be honest, thats not really fair, as many sites and reviews have concluded that they’re on our side.

    the thing is, not only is this a humongous letdown after ages of anticipation, but people are going to be put off buying it because it IS the edited version, i definitely am.

  • i apritiate that valve has taken us autralians into their consumer consideration and i am pleased because to this very day i still play l4d1 and i truly enjoy the gaming and i am looking forward to positive rsaults but i am ashamed that there wont be enough blood guts and gore.

  • Theres still one unanswered question that I am very curious about. That question being, if I buy from overseas (Britain or States) where it isn’t censored/edited, would it be still edited here when I receive it, because of like an internet filter or tracing of IP? or will it mean that because its uncut version, you get to play that version?

    • from us or britain i believe it is impossible. different region restriction on cd. but i was thinking somewhere with the same region? i don’t know. been thinking about what would happen since i heard of the ban

  • i was just wondering if you were to purchase l4d2 say from china which i believe has the same region and so forth. would you get banned of xbl considering the game is banned here? email would be great 🙂

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