Classification In Australia Is Starting To Make A Lot More Sense

It's no secret that video game classification in Australia is a protracted process, replete with numerous archaic processes and bureaucracy. But things are changing. Use of the International Age Rating Coalition's questionnaire has reduced the incredible burden on the Classification Board. Now we're seeing changes that will affect how DLC is classified in Australia.

Or not classified as the case may be. New legislation put into effect this month allows slight changes to video games, via updates or mods, to go ahead without re-classification.

It also covers a vast amount of new DLC released by publishers.

According to instructions from the Classification Board, adding the following does not require re-classification:

— Patches or updates that fix security vulnerabilities, compatibility problems or bugs. — Graphics enhancements. — Format changes. — Additions of songs, characters, weapons, costumes, skins or vehicles. — Additions of environments, levels, missions, storylines or modes (even if these affect the overall difficulty or setting of the game).

The general rule of thumb seems to be this: if new content being added doesn't affect the classification board's rating, there's no need to re-classify the game.

The exceptions are...

— Patches or updates that give access to previously hidden content that is likely to change the game’s classification. — A remake of a simple game with vastly improved graphics that means the modified game is unrecognisable from the original. — Additions of items or environments that completely change the general way a player interacts with a game. — A game that has the same or similar characters, settings and plot as the original but can be played as a standalone game.

An example I found helpful was Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. Technically an update, but really works as a new standalone game. It also features new content that might change the original game's classification. That might need to go through a re-classification.

New raids for Destiny on the other hand? That most likely wouldn't require re-classification.

It feels like a far more common sense solution to issues that are only going to become more relevant as games like Destiny — which are essentially continually evolving services — become more prevalent.

This feels like a well considered and timely change.


Comments

    Songs are exempt? Skins are exempt?
    So you could add the South Park song "Uncle F*cker" and a bunch of naked character skins into the DLC for the latest Dora the Explorer game and it won't change the rating?
    If weapons are allowed, does that mean the Penetrator from Saints Row is fine as well?

    A step moving in the right direction I'd say.

      Hardly. The IARC is a dodgy outsourcing of classification. http://bit.ly/1fqopKI has more info

    Publishers who have supported our region despite making a loss on many titles on the classification costs alone must surely be rejoicing right now.

      Heads up! This comment is awaiting moderation. Check back soon!

      Last edited 24/07/15 5:36 pm

    Surely DLC wasn't classified before was it?

      Yep, basically the same as before, DLC has never been classified. Rule-of-thumb was usually if there wasn't a disc based release it didn't matter, hence RDR Undead (which did get a physical release) got classified, while almost every piece of DLC ever released hasn't. Anything that was a pure digital release tended to skirt the rules as well. So this changes precisely nothing...

    So if the Hotline Miami 2 level in question was DLC, there wouldn't have been a problem?

    Am I reading this right?

      Yeah the guidelines quoted don't make a lot of sense to me. Revealing a "hidden" level in the original game requires reclassification. However, adding it in separately later will NOT require reclassification.

        I got the feeling that the "hidden content" thing was more in reference to the Hot Coffee content of GTA, so it prevents the case of having something shipped with the original game that basically bypassed the classification process, then an "contentless" update like the mod that unlocked it could also slip by classification unscathed.

          Sure. It still doesn't make a lot of sense as an update containing new "environments, levels, missions, storylines or modes" won't require classification.

      I think that would fall under the "likely to change the game's classification" exception. They could try releasing it, but I bet some state attorney general would submit it to the classification review board pretty quickly.

      I was thinking similar. You get a game like GTA past the classification board, then release a bunch of "Nude, Lewd, Crude" character skins that would get RC'd in an instant, but the game doesn't have to go through reclassification. It's not previously hidden content, it's not a remake, there's no change to the way the player interacts with the game, and it's not standalone. It doesn't hit any of those exceptions, therefore is not reclassified.
      The wording might need to be re-jigged a little.

      Last edited 24/07/15 1:40 pm

    Additions of ...skins...

    Hmm...

    NSFW http://gematsu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ocbz2-9-600x535.jpg

    Additions of ...weapons...

    Hmm...

    NSFW http://www.popcults.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/saints-row-3.jpg

    Last edited 24/07/15 12:41 pm

    It's all well and good that some people think it makes sense, but when any game is Refused Classification at all I feel a pang of hate for censorship. With over 200 being RC'd in the last 4 months... that's lots of censorship hate pangs.

    Last edited 24/07/15 2:37 pm

      No it's just when they are refused or modified for bullshit reasons.
      Eg: Hotline Miami 2, or any game relating to drug use as a reward.
      Seriously gotta update those guidelines.

    FYI The Penetrator was passed in the final version of Saints Row IV - the report says that the devs told them it was a reference to alien pop culture and not sexual violence. Common misconception.

    Also you can just buy the game uncut for $26AU on the Canadian PSN store. Same with HLM2. I have both. These guidelines change nothing in practice.

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