Outlast Finally Classified In Australia, Free Tomorrow On Australian PlayStation+

When Outlast was announced as a free game on Sony's PlayStation + service, Australians had a problem. The game hadn't been classified in Australia, therefore it wasn't available on the store. But that all changed as of yesterday — the Australian Classification Board has now classified Outlast and, from tomorrow Australian PlayStation+ users will be able to download it at no cost.

Users in countries where the game is not classified will have to settle for Sound Shapes instead.

Outlast received an R18+ rating as a result of its high impact themes, and it was the first game in a while to raise a familiar set of issues with regards to Australian classification. The main issue? It's expensive, and all too often the cost of classifying a video game means it simply isn't financially viable to release certain games here in Australia. This is especially a problem when it comes to small digital games. This is why it the Australian e-shop is often short a few games.

Hopefully the government will begin implementing the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission sooner rather than later. Digital distribution is becoming increasingly dominant and we're close to a tipping point. It would be a shame if Australian consumers and businesses continued to be limited by an archaic system of classification.


Comments

    This is a PS4 game, right?

    Awww yissss. I will prepare my remote-controlled lights and teddy bear in anticipation of the bricks that will be shat whilst playing.

    even though it was only classified yesterday, it's been on sale via Steam since early September.

    There's an idea going around that digital-only games don't need a classification, but I had a look into the classification act & there's no exemption for digital only. in fact, the wording is deliberately broad so that it can include any delivery method. Edit: it also covers anything imported for sale.

    So I think the question that should be asked is not 'why did classification for Outlast take so long, but more 'Why was the publisher & Steam distributing an 'illegal' game for 5 months, and how did they get away with that?'

    Last edited 04/02/14 12:23 pm

      Do you really want someone to ask that question?

        honestly, if that sorta thing happens, its just more ammunition for the anti-R18 / games-are-gonna-destroy-society brigade.

        the industry - publisher & distributors, should be taking responsibility to adhere to the laws of the markets they're selling to.

        given that the games industry is the go-to scapegoat for... well... pretty much anything that happens, they've gotta make sure they're beyond reproach. & that includes sticking to classification guidelines.

        so yeah, I think its a question that should be asked. coz it reflects poorly on the industry & the people who play games & we need to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

          I thought this question came up a while ago (during the R18+ debates) when it was also revealed that the classification board generally doesn't touch anything on iOS. There's tens of thousands of games released there unclassified every year.

            seems its something of a grey area.

            as there isn't yet anything in the classification act explicitly stating that digital-only games need to be submitted for classification before sale, some distributors have decided that means that digital-only games don't need classification.

            Other distributors have taken the view that the current wording covers digital-only distribution, and therefore they wont sell unclassified games.

            Source: http://www.artslaw.com.au/art-law/entry/rebuilding-australias-national-classification-scheme-for-the-digital-econom

            Also, from the classification site :
            "If you want to distribute copies of your computer game, you need to get it classified."

            Last edited 04/02/14 1:26 pm

              Indeed a very grey area. It seems like a rule of thumb that most are using is to classify it for live/psn/retail distribution, but if there's nothing specifically set up for Australia then it's kinda murky.
              Another way to look at it - if they're going to go to the trouble of classification, then they'll be treating the region differently a la Australia tax.
              I wonder what the breakdown is between classified and unclassified on Steam at the moment (and how many of each have region specific pricing)

      My understanding (whether right or wrong) has been that it's a criminal act to make an unclassified multimedia product available for public purchase/viewing, or to show it to a minor, but unless it's explicitly banned then it's not illegal to have it for personal use.

      The question over digital distribution has been whether or not they're actually being "sold in Australia". If the site owners are doing business from the US then it's really the consumer who is importing the product.

        if a product has been RC'd (and therefore illegal), its not illegal to own it, but it is illegal to import it. even if it is just for personal use.

        that's part of the reason I mentioned imports up there. even if the data is being stored on & sold from an overseas server, it may still count as an import & therefore would still need classification.

        I dunno. reading the classification act as it currently stands, it seems that selling an unclassified digital game is not permitted. there's nothing that explicitly says so, but the way its worded implies that any game sold in Australia has to be classified. physical release, or otherwise.

          RC'd, yes, but that's not the same as unclassified.

          All in all, it's really just another example of technology out pacing the legal system.

          Last edited 04/02/14 1:20 pm

          It's a problem with the system as well though. The board classifies hundreds of games a year, and that's about it for their capacity. If they were suddenly handed 50,000 digital titles (fairly conservative number), then nothing would ever get released.

      From what I can tell, The Walking Dead first released on Steam in April 2012, but wasn't classified in Australia until January 2013. Looks like the voices in my head got that one right.

        same deal then. selling Walking Dead via steam before it was classified could've got the publisher a bit of a fine against them.

      If the distributor (Valve), the publisher/developer (Red Barrels) have no presence in Australia, why should they abide by Australian law?

        coz thats not how laws work.

          No? I'm not a lawyer but I sure as hell hope I'm not subject to laws in other countries that I have nothing to do with.

          Valve's in the US, they sell software from a US site. I really don't see why they would need to abide by AU law at all.

          Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft, etc have physical presence in AU - offices, staff or simply their retail goods - and would therefore be subject to AU law.

          Help me out here.

            ok. some examples.
            - if you were to hack into a US website, even though you were not in the US, you'd be breaking US law.
            - if a Nigerian Prince skims your bank details & steals your money, they're breaking Australian law.
            - if a Chinese company wants to invest in an Australian business, they've gotta adhere to the laws that govern such transactions as they exist in Australia.

            so it would follow that any transaction that Valve undertake within the Australian market is subject to Australian laws. It's the same reason that games like the uncut version of Left 4 Dead 2 aren't available on the Australian Steam store - they're adhering to the classification practices that are applicable in the market they're selling to.

            the only reason I can think of that Valve would be selling unclassified games through their store is that, like I said above, its a grey area.
            Reading the classification act as it is, seems to imply that all games sold in Australia, regardless of sale method, must be submitted to the Classification Board & rated.
            However, the act does not explicitly state this, so a distributor may have a bit of wiggle room if they're caught out.

              1 - this involves property in US
              2 - this involves property in AU
              3 - this involves a company in AU

              Valve has none of these here. This is you, as a private citizen, going on the internet and purchasing an item from another country, from a company with no physical presence or goods within Australia.

              Anything Valve does regarding our classifications, is IMHO voluntary. When third party publishers get involved (EA, Ubi, Activision, etc), they need to abide by our laws as they have property and companies here, so Valve provides them the facilities to display ratings and remove RC content, etc.

    I was wondering the other day (while downloading Metro Last Light from PS+) about how it works in terms of enforcing the R18+ rating? Do they work on the assumption that you have to be 18 to create a PSN account? I.e. how do they enforce age restrictions on digital products - it's not like there's some dude you can show your drivers licence to or anything like that?

      I think that part of the T&C you agree to when you create an account say that you must be 18+

      That's just from memory though, I haven't gone back to check.

      I guess that's where parental controls on the system itself come into play. If you're a responsible parent you would have locked your kids account to be under 18 ;)

        I was thinking more along the lines of what if a kid just set up a PSN account and entered his age as being over 18? Doesn't even need a credit card, can just go to JB or EB and buy PSN cards with cash and start downloading R rated games.

    Is this for PS3 or 4?

      PS4 only.
      http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2014/01/22/playstation-plus-in-february-bioshock-infinite-metro-last-light-outlast-more/

        Wait. I'll have another game to play on the PS4?

        I...I don't know how to feel. It's all so happening so fast and it's overwhelming.

        Last edited 04/02/14 12:42 pm

    Nothing to do here *jetpacks away*

    Did they censor it? It sounded like the game had some stuff in it which was potentially going to cause issues for classification here...

      A zombie saying 'Boo!'? A bare leg on one of the female characters? That's usually the cause of problems.

      /s

        Apparently there's a scene of necrophilia and I'd have thought that'd be borderline for our classification board.

        Last edited 04/02/14 1:17 pm

      Na. Australia Classification Board only cares about nudity, drug and adult humours. Scaring the shit out of little kids is alright because from their senior citizen perspective, it stops kids from playing video games. :)

        well there is a scene where you can clearly see a guys....umm bits....dangling between his legs...that was pretty scary for me lol

    YES! Can't wait to scare the crap out of my wife with this one. Alas, she wont last 30 seconds before she leaves the room and switches on the next episode of Girls instead.

    We've missed out on so many good games because of the classification costs. The digital distribution guideline reforms can't come soon enough.

    I've learnt over the years that I hate horror games.......well anything scarier than FEAR anyway.......I'm still pleased the game passed, have fun PS4 owning, PS plus membering sadomasochist out there....

      Man I cant wait for a good horror on the Rift :)

    So... no problems with the two naked psychopaths that want to eat you? Progress! I'm still amazed every time I see classifications like this... it's like living in the present.

    Great news. Sound Shapes is excellent, but as anyone who bought the PS3 version already has the PS4 version cross-buy, it would have been a disappointing alternative. With the PS4 1.6 firmware adding wireless headset support, I'm sure Outlast will be great with the Pulse Elites!

    Lolz @ anyone who cares about what rating games have & buys locally.

    I've been downloading and importing games for more than 10 years - nobody has ever stopped me. Customs have better things to do than enforce a broken, pointless system which exists soley because of an unproven assumption that ANY media has a negative affect on ANYONE! Stop worrying about silly little laws that are so easily circumvented.

    I was really hoping this would be available at midnight so I could start downloading and have it ready for when I get home today.

    Anyone know what time the store will have this available?

      I checked on the online PS Store and it's still not showing up, not sure about the actual app on the PS4... You'd think they'd be one in the same.

      Is it possible to remotely switch your ps4 on and then start a download? This needs to happen Sony.

    I dl'd the 1.6 update for my PS4 so I could get Outlast and not it's saying "This service is not available in your country/region" Is anyone else having this bs problem aswell? ffs I didn't even want a fucking update fo their shitty headphones. I just wanted Outlast.

    Still nothing :(

      Yeah I've been waiting all day. Nothing has shown up.

      *falls to knees and rips shirt* you lied to us Mark!

    Why is this game not available yet! WHY!! It's the 6th now dammit, the 6th!!

    Turns out that Outlast was cancelled in Australia, Australia's new free game replacement will be flappy birds for PS4

    I download it from 4SaleUSA.com it's also free at there.

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