We contacted Blacklight’s US publisher Ignition Entertainment to find out why Australia had missed out on the game. They sent us this statement:
“We regret to announce that the Australian Classification Board were unable to award Blacklight: Tango Down a rating in that territory. This is due to the fact that the title requires a permanent online connection as it is an online multiplayer game. The ACB could not review and rate a title with such a requirement.
This decision by the ACB also precludes us releasing the game in New Zealand.
UTV Ignition Entertainment apologize to gamers in Australia and NZ who were looking forward to playing Blacklight: Tango Down, but the situation is beyond our control. It was always our intention to release the title in these regions, and should the ACB change their stance on such titles, we will do our utmost to bring the game to market in Australia and NZ.”
It’s not the first time the issue of classification has arisen regarding an online-only game. Early last year reports suggested that MMOs such as World of Warcraft were being sold “illegally” in Australia because they were not classified. These reports, of course, turned out to be nonsense.
So online games can be sold in Australia without being classified. Though it is something of a grey area in the classification code.
We’ve contacted the Classification Board for more details.
UPDATE: The Classification Board has confirmed to Kotaku that they have not received a submission from Ignition Entertainment for Blacklight: Tango Down to be classified in Australia.
Also, as several of you have pointed out in the comments, online-only games such as Battlefield 1943 have been classified and released on Xbox Live Arcade. And the Classification Board is now classifying MMOs such as World of Warcraft.
We have contacted Ignition for clarification on their statement.