R18+ Is A Reality — Now What?

R18+ Is A Reality — Now What?

The fireworks have exploded and 2013 is a reality — and with it, Australia gets an R18+ rating for video games. So what happens next?

Well, if the scaremongers are right, we’ve already exploded in a sheer orgy of blood, guts, breasts and gerbil frottage, because that’s what the R18+ crew wanted all along, right? It’s certainly the image that News.com.au’s gone for, based on its choice of stock image. But is that the reality?

Hang on a second — I’ll go and check outside.

Nope, all still good.

While it’s true that January 1st saw the formal introduction of the R18+ legislation in Australia — except for tardy Queensland — the practical reality is that we’re unlikely to see any R18+ rated games on the shelves for a while yet; that’ll be the province of game submitted from now on, or (although this is rather unlikely) games more than two years old that get resubmitted for classification. So those hanging out for a dose of Mortal Kombat or Marc Ecko’s Getting Up will probably be left hanging — although in the case of Getting Up, you missed nothing; having played the review code back in the day, there’s no point in reclassifying that one.

Still, if you’ve got any left over champagne from the festive season, it’s still a good reason to pop some corks and celebrate; as Aussie gamers we’ve just passed a very significant milestone indeed, although the challenge as to whether we’ll see fewer games denied classification, or a shifting of the MA15+ goalposts remains to be fully seen.

Image: rumpleteaser



    Oh gawd that news.com image. See this is why i tend to avoid news limited stuff. Their becoming far too much more like the US Fox News as of late… yes i know they were bad but recently its really getting so much more worse.

    Oddly enough the SMH version was a lot more muted. Just a pic w/ the R18+ sign xD

    Eitherway.. drats you folks beat my tip by about 1 minute xD

    • it would be nice, but unfortunately because only the censored version was passed through the ACCC that’s the only version that can currently be sold. They’d need to resubmit the game for consideration, even then there’s a chance it could be RC’d or modified as there’s gratuitous violence and blah blah blah

        • No such thing as ACB. It’s “Classification Board”. I asked them via email what their correct title is.
          Classification Operations Branch (COB) receives material and prepares it for the Classification Baord and they handle enquiries and complaints.

          Classification Review Board was used only once last year to lower the rating for Prometheus which means the distributor got what they wanted for the $10,000 fee.

    • Nah, I’d expect the new God of War to get an R rating, and that’ll be out before GTAV. Not sure if there’s anything else between now and GoW that might be a contender for R18+.

    • I’m pretty sure that under the R18+ guidelines, games that were previously rejected for the classification can’t be resubmitted for evaluation.

        • They can re-submit any games that have been altered in some way. I don’t think that second edition of Mortal Kombat with all DLC was submitted, so maybe they can get away with that. Regardless, in about 6 months time it would have been about 2 years after Mortal Kombat was first released, so they can submit it again then.

          • Hmm, I didn’t know a game needed to be altered in some way before it could be reclassified (I was thinking that was the old way of doing things); can anyone else confirm?

  • The first game to be released under an R18+ rating will, for better or for worse, get massive amounts of publicity and set the tone for media surrounding the rating for the 12 months that follows.

    I expect to see at least one pseudo-incident linked back to whatever the game is with lots of pulpit pounding and non-sequitur “I told you so”s from groups like the ACL, then it will all just blow over and well forget how things used to be.

    The reality is, a bunch of games are going to be put up into R that would otherwise have passed as MA, whether they belong in R or not. Don’t freak out, these are just teething problems.

        • Been there had controversial biblical games. This atheist vs religioso, religioso vs atheist bullshit is so fucking old now, people need to get the fuck over it on BOTH sides.

          • Will never happen. Even if the creation of the universe was scientifically proven to be because of the big bang, or if god himself came down and proclaimed his existence, people will argue about this as sure as the sun keeps coming up.

        • The stage where you beat an army to death with the jawbone of a donkey would qualify for an R rating right? Or how about the stage where you kill your own son but god busts out and yells punk’d at you before you go through with it.

          Or any stage where you go to Soddom or Ghemora (spelling?) to rescue that one good guy, Lott the man so noble he would pimp out his own daughters…

          The bible could easily have an R rating, in game form. It’s full of whacky things. What’s worse one of the collectables would be foreskins, there’s a guy in there who proposed by collecting 100 foreskins of his enemies (but they didn’t follow his God and that’s fine by the Old Testament standard)

          • I’m pretty sure that, by what you’ve detailed, the bible would be refused classification, subjecting it to mass overseas imports.

    • Yah SCREW YOU SOUTH AUS… Oh shit wait what??? On behalf of all queenslanders… I’m sorry. I’m very very very sorry 🙁 ill go sit in the corner now. 🙁

  • I think the parents of that boy should get him in the bath quicksmart – WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY FEEDING HIM FOR GODS SAKE, and how did he get it all over his head? At least they bought him some swimming goggles I suppose…

  • Nothing has changed, The rating system never stopped me from buying Mortal Kombat or any other game for that matter, L4D2 played better with the restrictions, everything else was fine, GOW is my favourite game franchise and that didn’t get blocked. I am just glad the rating is now available so that games can now be rated properly into the correct category.

    • Really? I thought L4D2 was unplayable as it was. The zombies disappearing when I shot them just threw me right out of the experience.

      Does anyone know when it’s going to be updated? I’ve owned it for years, but only played about 20mins of it. I’ve been waiting for it to be uncensored.

      • Valve would need to resubmit L4D2 for classification. There’s a cost to it (does anyone know?) and given the age of the game, not a whole lot of incentive to actually do so.

        On the other hand, to prove that the new R18+ system is a mockery (aka MA15+ goalpost shift) and that nothing really has changed, they may just do it.

        I’m nearly 32 and I’ve seen how classification has changed with TV (profanity, nudity, violence etc) and typically it’s small steps (people positively adjust when it’s a trickle feed). Then again R18+ games are a prickly issue for the bible bashers and do-gooders who believe that any gamer who wants to play games rated 18+ must be Satan’s love child and a ticking time bomb waiting to go off (and kill us all) when in reality we’re mostly just normal people.

        • The cost was something like $2000 I believe… maybe less. I know this because an indie developer wrote an article here on Kotaku complaining about high the cost was. Seems pretty reasonable for any big publisher to pay though. Valve could make that money back in a day once the news goes out that it had been reclassified, along with a daily deal on the game.

      • Agreed L4D2 was unplayable. Disappearing zombies was a bit of a distraction, especially when it happened before they even hit the floor… but I could handle that. My problem was that you couldn’t see the blood when you hit or shot the zombies or when they were on fire – no feedback on whether you’d actually hit them or set them on fire.

    • I agree, the vanishing zombies really reduces the visual clutter in versus mode, arguably makes the game easier there, at the cost of reducing immersion in co-op.

  • To be honest, the only game I legitimately wanted was Mortal Kombat, and I imported the PS3 version anyway.

    I’m glad this is finally in though. Long overdue.

    But if you read the fineprint, it might not actually fix anything. MANY of the games before, would still be banned now if you read the wording behind it all.

    • I nearly bought Mortal Kombat off the US PS Store the other day, but I only had $20 credit left and it was $20.99. Annoying part is that there was a PS+ discount which would have brought it down to $15, but of course my PS+ subscription only applies to my AU account, not my US one 🙁

      Re the banning of games, I think you’ll gradually see things become more permissive. There’s a lot of stuff that, according to the guidelines, should previously have been R18+ (and therefore banned) that got squeezed into MA15+. So I think having a R18+ will allow a higher ceiling so stuff that might have been banned will be allowed in under R18+.

      As for me, I’m wondering of our stupid rules applying to R18+ movies here (they can’t be in the standard A-Z section of a store, they have to be in their own, separate section) will be applied to games, too, requiring a rejigging of store layouts to create a separate R18+ section. It sounds like utter stupidity, which means that’s probably exactly what will happen.

  • Now we will see if my fears and apprehensions about R18+ are founded, will games like God of War that would have been MA+ upgraded to R18+ just because now that option exists but weren’t considered to violent enough to refuse classification?

    Or will it end up like the movies, where studio’s cut out violence/sex/drugs/swearing by self-censoring to avoid the R rating that’s poison to box office numbers?

    Imagine a worse case scenario where GTA5 is self censored to make the MA15+ cut so that it sells more copies, I think Rockstar have more credibility than that but other publishers may not.

    • “will games like God of War that would have been MA+ upgraded to R18+ just because now that option exists but weren’t considered to violent enough to refuse classification?”

      No, to be rated R18+ the games in question have to be resubmitted. Unless that happens the current verdict sticks. An MA15+ game will stay that way.

      And I do not think the game industry will self edit. Like the customers of Australia, the game industry here has been pushing for an R18 rating so there is consistency of rating and parity with the rest of the world.

      • I think the new God Of War will be R18+. And that’s because the older ones probably should have been but there was no such option. But I don’t think it’ll matter much. They’ve had an 18 rating in the UK/Europe for ages and that doesn’t seem to have hurt sales – although I’m not sure of the ratings over there are legally enforcible like they are here or if they’re just a guideline like in the US.

      • Yeah. I’m pretty sure COD is rated 18 in the UK. Doesn’t seem to hurt sales. Although, like I said above, I’m not sure if those ratings are actually legally enforced over there, so I don’t know if under-18’s can still legally buy 18-rated games.

  • I’m still confused. Has the rules in regards to what becomes RC changed and it simply means some games that would have previously have been MA be R or does it mean games that were or would have originally been RC have a chance of getting an R rating? I understand that games can still be RC but not sure about how much of a effect this has on what games we miss out on, which in my case is my primary interest in this new ratings introduction. Thanks in advance to anyone that knows more than me and is willing to share that information. Also happy new year to everyone!

    • I could be wrong so please take what say with some salt.

      Anyhow, permit me to start at the foundations and work my way towards your question.

      Classification in Australia is actually in two layers. First is the classification code which acts like a large filter. It basically dictates what is allowed here and what isn’t. Anything refused classification at this point stands no chances of ever getting a rating thus reaching the market.

      The following example is a bit extreme but please bear with me. Most of us know of that infamous and out right disgusting game, Rapelay. Now, the classification codes forbid such content out right so it will never see a rating here (unlike what others claim).

      Any why, once past the classification code, the game can be awarded with a rating. That is the role of the Australian Classification Board (ACB). Based on the content, the rating is allocated so that consumers can be informed about the intended audience of the game.

      The problem is there is a gab between how far the classification code goes and how far the rating system for games goes. This has lead to a number of consistency issues: mainly the inconsistency of games getting banned and how games that are rated 18+ in the rest of the world end up being MA15+ here.

      The introduction of the R18+ rating not only puts our rating system closer to that of the rest of the world but also finally brings it back into line with our own classification code.

      Some has said that the R18+ rating will open the flood gates to “unsavory” games like (shudder) Rapelay. I can assure you that is not the case. Anything blocked by the classification code will remain blocked. There maybe one or two games that will finally get through (like Mortal Combat if it passes the code) but the main point is R18+ games will at last be rated R18+ instead of being shoe horned into the MA15+ bracket.

      So in answer to your question, the conditions for a refused classification game (in my eye) does not change. In fact a lot of games banned passed the classification code anyway. But at long last, we might see some consistency of ratings in the mature games.

      • ” the conditions for a refused classification game (in my eye) does not change. ”

        Yes it does. The part of the Code (?) that used to say under RC: “are unsuitable for a minor to see or play” is now deleted.

        Some games will get a R 18+ and they would’ve been RC under the old system. But we’ll never know which ones.

        Refused Classification category was also for games deemed to have an impact higher than strong.
        strong impact = MA 15+

        As well as all that “promotion of crime” “drug use related to incentives or rewards” BS that’s still in place.

        I realise that they are re-defining what is strong impact to accommodate R 18+. (high impact).

        Why mention Rapelay? It was never a commercial game really. No one wants to play it except Dennis Fergusen. (sp?). According to wikipedia (which I take as gospel) Activists from US started doing their thing around 2009 campaining against this pathetic 2006 game which was never intended to be sold outside Japan and it was a pathetic flop anyway. The reason we all have heard of it is because of those activists. Whipping boy just like Manhunt. I know you’re not Fred Nile or Jim Wallace but it just irks me when anyone throws this title or Manhunt into the ring during their typings on the net. The game itself is obviously the biggest piece of crap. Just makes me go “Red Herring” or “Smokescreen” whenever its mentioned. Absolutely not representative of games at all. (obviously).

        The Code, the Act and the Guidelines are all administered at once by the Classification Board as it says on their website. ..and classification of course.

        ” the conditions for a refused classification game (in my eye) do not change. ”

        Well the RC guidelines have been re-written. Both old and new Guidelines and the other legislation are on their website; or rather linked to from there – they’re on comlaw. (sp?)

  • Those of you who are paranoid about the R rating simply being a defacto MA rating should read the actual legislation because it definitely IS NOT a defacto MA15+ classification. It allows more adult content and overall elements with a HIGH impact. As opposed to the actual MA rating which only allows STRONG content and lesser adult elements.

    There is a very distinct difference in the two ratings according to the legislation and classification guidelines. Save the cynism and get your info from the horses mouth.


  • Mortal Kombat was refused cla… err sorry … klassification in February 2011, all we have to do is wait 2 months then ask WB to resubmit it right?

  • I’m curious if customs will still seize any old R18 games that haven’t been formally resubmitted for classification they happen to stumble across.

    • Its unlikely anyway, I am one of many who have successfully imported mortal kombat without it being seized; most custom’s officials don’t really give a damn about games they look for the serious stuff like drugs/weapon’s imports.

  • God of War shouldn’t be R. Neither Should Gears of War.

    When you’re tearing apart non-humans, no one seems to care.

    • Please tell me you are joking. If you are then ‘no’.

      See my previous post about the rating system being in two layers.

    • You can anyway! It’s just parents don’t know if they’re suitable for children as they’re not given any rating. The way I see it, if they don’t have a rating they must be just fine for kids right?

  • Wow, even more mind numbing garbage will be available for socially isolated videodrones, only with additional boobs and violence. Read a book. Oh, probably can’t read, attention span too tiny.

  • Now what?
    Now parents should get off their lazy, “protect my kids for me”, behinds and actually research what games their children request for B-days and Christmas etc. You wouldn’t buy your kid a porno film, so don’t cry when your child is yelling profanities at people on the game you brought them.

    Retailers will have to inform buyers of the rating, check ID for younger people so we don’t have scare tactic pollys and support groups yelling, “Won’t someone think of the children!!”

  • This is good.
    I work in retail, and from what I’ve seen day in, day out – most parents show a much more informed decision when they see the black R18+ sticker. Well in the case of DVD’s they straight up know it’s strongly associated with strong violence or sex or other intense themes.
    Which is good, because they’re confused wit the current system. I’ve had so many people ask is this suitable for my son/daughter. They see M15+, and MA15+ and it’s confusing. MA15+ is a restricted category, but they don’t understand they just see 2 15+ ratings.
    But the difference between MA15+ and R18+ is much more defined.

  • Also stores stocking R18+ titles will be required to have signs with information on the new R18+ rating. And if caught selling to minors, stores can be slapped with fines upwards of $20,000

  • Except that there’s no such thing as ACB or Australian Classification Board.

    They’re called “Classification Board”. There’s no ancronym. Email them and ask them if you don’t believe me. Because I emailed them as to their correct title and they set me straight. “ACB” is a myth on the internet. It’s not listed anywhere in govt. legislation or on their website. Because it’s wrong 🙂

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