XBLA Shooter Cannot Be Classified In Australia [Updated]

Blacklight: Tango Down is a first-person shooter from Spec Ops developers Zombie Studios. It was released on Xbox LIVE Arcade last week. Only it wasn't in Australia. Why?

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.


Comments

    Online only games get rated now as well. WoW received classifications in September last year.

    If Valve made L4D2 online only would that mean they could release the uncensored version here?

      Nope

      the way it would work technically now because they want to rate these games

      so they would say a game has a base rating of at least an M based on the viewable content

      and that it could end up higher due to interactions with other players

    Ummm... Wasn't BF1943 online only?

      You can play it offline. Not very interesting in that case, but it is possible.

      As for the WoW being sold illegally, at one stage it was. It was actually pointed out to the classification board by Microsoft while they tried to get the Indie Channel in Australia. Up until that point the classification board hadn't noticed. Blizzard then had to get WoW rated to continue to sell it. Apparently it disappeared off store shelves for a short while while it got classified.

        We got WoW earlier this year and it was a US copy with an ESRB sticker.

    Silver lining: The game isn't that great.

    Man that ratings board just gives me a headache. It makes no sense, why this and not 1943? FFXI was on xbox and online only as well, although not arcade (but i hardly see the difference).

    What about games like MAG?

      The classification board is wildly inconsistent in their decisions. It’s almost as if they purposely hired multiple personality schizophrenia patients to make these decisions.

        the laws surrounding this are a series of crappy hacks and expedient decisions to soothe the anger of certain churches. they also rest of that lovely brand of quicksand we call "Community Standards" - a get of of jail free card for the legislators involved.

    This is getting really silly.

    It really shows you how out-dated our classification system is....

    "This is due to the fact that the title requires a permanent online connection as it is an online multiplayer game."
    So what!?

    Really, what does it matter if it requires a permanent online connection?
    Is it because its a multiplayer game that requires a permanent online connection? Or ANY game that requires a permanent connection?

    Ubisofts new anti-piracy methods require a permanent connection too. That mean Assassins Creed or Splinter Cell for the PC shouldnt be sold here?

    Just what exactly is the rule regarding a permanent online connection and games?

      Two possibilities here:

      1) The board ONLY rates the offline portions of games, since the online portions include interactions with people, whose behaviour (and speech in particular) can't be controlled. People say bad words sometimes.

      2) The board only has a dial-up connection and it's too slow for them to play online games, so they just get mad and refuse to classify the games :)

        Yeah, I understand No.1.
        But what are the board reviewing in these instances? The content of the game? Or the people playing them?

        And remember those warning messages:
        "Game experience may change during online play"

        Maybe because this game is online only and at the time of review The Classification Board couldnt rate it because they couldnt get online. Bad matchmaking? lol No local games? lol.

        “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."

        Then how in the hell did MAG and Warhawk get through?!
        They were both rated M, from what I remember.

    I know this game is kinda sucky, but this is still a travesty. Australia is drowned in beaurocracy.

    My guess is the guy doing the review wanted a cruisey day and just chucked it in the too hard basket :)

    Don't forget the (relatively) steep fees for classification here. It might not be worth it for a downloadable title to be classified here due to the reduced profits.

    Of course, they could always charge us more here for it too.

    Sounds like Ignition is just being lazy.

      Lazy and tell big fat lies too. I'm keen to see their "clarification".

      Ratings only cost $2500 - $3000, the distribution licence is the money killer at $25000

    Dark Sector gets banned for having violence that involves decapitation and limb removal and gets banned.

    Fallout 3 has the same thing (and the ability to wave around the delimbed corpses hilariously) but gets banned for showing an image of a syringe like item and calling it morphine and gets through by renaming it 'stimpack'. Violence remains the same though. Not to mention dozens and dozens of games that have the same type of specific limb removal that pass the grade.

    Bioshock and Bioshock 2 both get approved despite showing actual injections that improve the characters abilities.

    Or better yet, GTA IV is released with moderated violent and removed hooker scenes. GTA IV for the PC and GTA Episodes has all the removed material put back in and is approved with the same rating.

    There is ZERO consistency in how they assess games. Which means decisions on whether or not to ban a game are coming down to individual opinions and that is a broken system.

    Assassin's Creed 2 on PC required a constant internet connection too. Stupid DRM.

    I thought we'd determined that 'online only' games are effectively exempt from classification under the current system, as the online component of a game cant be classified (the classification board isn't able to predict how other players will act). The classification act states that an online only game is not in fact a game at all for their purposes, and does not require classification.

    Your not missing anything, its a s**t 1st person shooter IMO. Download the demo from a UK gamertag, and you can see for yourself. If your a 1st person fan, MW2 or BFBC2 or whatever your into is by far better than this "AAA title for 1200MSP" rubbish.
    The classification issue is baffling. Someone isnt telling the truth. I call a liar and its probably Ignition.

    What about Assassins Creed 2 for the PC?

    When this comes out on PSN. Would it work if we download it from the american store and play on their servers

    Cheers for checking this out David. Interesting stuff!

    I'm thinking Ignition either have the wrong information or for whatever reason aren't worried about not releasing the game here.

      It is a bit odd because XBL has the game in all the usual Featured spots. So XBL Australia is promoting an item that Aussies can't buy.

    For once the OFLC is telling the truth, i searched Blacklight: Tango Down on the classification website and it came up nothing, the publisher probably said that as an excuse for not releasing it here in "soviet" Australia

    must have been afraid our internet would screw them up and we'd complain and they couldnt fix it

    LOL Ignitions' PR people clearly have no idea what they're talking about. I can just imagine a bunch of people at Ignition now arguing "you were meant to submit it to Australia", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were", "no you were". "nah nah nah nah nah i'm not listening, YOU WERE".

      That probably would have been funny if it had about 30 less 'no you were's

    Is ANYONE going to buy this game now after this? I WANTED to give them money, but after this I'm not so sure.

    And the reviews and things haven't been very promising.

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