Outlast 2 Has Been Refused Classification In Australia

Outlast 2 Has Been Refused Classification In Australia

Scheduled for release on April 25, Outlast 2 will no longer be released in Australia after it was refused classification.

Update: Kotaku Australia has received a copy of the Classification Board’s report, which explains their reasons for slapping an RC rating on Outlast 2. You can see the full reasoning in the story below:

Here's Why Outlast 2 Was Refused Classification In Australia

Kotaku Australia has learned that Outlast 2 has been refused classification in Australia, predominately for the depiction of implied sexual violence.

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The Classification Board issued its ruling against Outlast 2 yesterday, with Games 1(a) cited. 1(a) is a classification given to games that “depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified”.

It’s an intriguing decision given that the demo for Outlast 2 received an R18+ rating from Australia’s censors in September. The demo was given strong and high impact ratings for themes and violence.

We will keep you posted as more information comes to hand surrounding the board’s ruling. Kotaku has also contacted the game’s publisher for comment, and we’ll update this story as soon as they respond.


  • The demo doesn’t include all the content in the game. I’m interested in knowing what particular scene or passage of play caused this.

  • The right or wrong about this decision aside, this occurrence happens and you can be damn sure the publishers think ‘YES’.

    No such thing as bad publicity.

    • True, especially considering Aus is such a small customer base. Lack of sales here will easily be made up for by the added publicity overseas and then some. Or so I suspect.

      Interested to know what caused this though. Assuming something sex related?

  • generally accepted by reasonable adults

    But what about the unreasonable adults, are we just meant to miss out?

    • I’m also wondering what they consider a “reasonable adult”… A perpetually-offended 60 year old bible-thumper?

      • If you’ve looked up a list of the people on the classification board… yup, actually, you are SO correct.

      • ‘Reasonableness’ has been around as a legal test for centuries. It’s not a controversial thing for people who know what they’re talking about.

        Not saying that’s the case in this situation (because we don’t know what the offending content is) or that the ACB necessarily know what they’re talking about, but in every RC article this argument comes up that ‘reasonableness’ isn’t a fair standard or that the ACB are just middle-aged losers with no interest in games (like that makes a difference) who don’t know their job as well as armchair critics, and it’s just tiresome.

  • It’s almost like we have been complaining years that the R rating in Australia only increased the violence and doesn’t make any difference to games like Fallout.

  • I thought the whole point of getting an R18+ rating here meant this didnt happen anymore.

    • R18+ doesn’t permit you to publish blatantly obscene shit. Movies get knocked back frequently.

    • No, because the fucking wowsers responsible for the classifications know best what will harm our adult minds, and protect us from concepts in fiction (but not news) that we aren’t mentally or emotionally equipped to handle.

      Fuck I’m sick of this shit.

    • Nah, we said this would happen. A lot of games that would have got an MA15+ previously have been shunted up to R18+. RC games are most likely still being refused based on what would previously have got them refused an MA15+ rating.

      • Considering that the review panel is likely made up of people averaging around 40 years old that may not have any particular interest in video games, you can bet that they’re going to be a bit more delicate when it comes to certain things. Apparently the “average Australian” gets to decide if other consenting adults aren’t allowed to play particular games if they feel that something is inappropriate. RC is just stupid because everything is limited by what the “average” person thinks is reasonable.

        • Ha ha, it may be good that we are apparently becoming desensitized to violence. If more people like that end up on the panel then we might catch up to the rest of the world’s relaxed view on classification.

        • Ahhh young dude (I assume), You realise that the ‘average gamer’ is pretty damn close to 40. The average 40 YO has lived through the genesis of computer and console gaming and the average age is only going to increase. Please don’t think that you and your group of gamer friends are all that are out there consuming the content.

          • To be fair, the “average gamer” includes pretty much everyone that has ever played a mobile game. I am well aware that young gamers aren’t the only ones playing but I don’t believe that its reasonable for the classification panel, who are intended to represent a cross-section of Australian society, to make a judgement that no Australians should be allowed to play Outlast 2. The test of what is “reasonable” is inherently fickle because of individual preference and the panel is inherently swayed by who is making that determination.

    • No, before people jump on the hyperbole wagon claiming games just got shifted from MA to R (which didn’t truly happen, otherwise we wouldn’t have been left with an MA category?), excessive violence was allowed, however sexualised violence which was always banned, remained a bannable situation as does glorification of narcotics for instance. There’s still a couple of instances a game can get RC’ed, we just don’t see as many games get this classification anymore.

      • This. We don’t even know what they’ve taken issue with. It could be legitimately offensive. Wait for more information before boarding the hyperbole train (when it becomes the ‘justified criticism’ train).

      • Not to be deliberately argumentative, but it did happen – in that we had games that were barely scraping in under the MA15+ have the room to be moved up to a more appropriate R18+ rating (the Gears of War series, for example), and got a few games that would have otherwise been RC’d because they didn’t meet the MA limitations for violence (Outlast’s Whistleblower DLC would almost certainly have been RC’d under the old system). In that respect, the R18 rating was a success.

        That said, violence is basically the only difference between the two ratings. We knew things like incentivised drug use and sexual violence would still result in an RC rating – we weren’t particularly happy about it, but it had taken a decade and a half to get the government to admit that the rating was even needed, so I don’t think anyone was willing to push their luck and risk another decade of “we need an R18 rating for games.”

        • Yeah but a lot of those games were slightly edited previously to accomodate the MA15 rating, GTA IV for instance, had gunshots removed, sex with prostitutes taken out (or at least the variations on offer) etc. Ok I take on board a couple may have, but not to the degree some are making out. Even if some were moved up, let’s be honest, Gears Of War deserves to be up in that category anyhow due to its excessive violence (I own em all, they’re fantastic, but bloody violent!). Like you said however the R18 rating has been a success and not an excuse to merely shift a rating. Violence isn’t only a reason, I was gonna list a whole bunch, but it’s better to go here and look, it’s got more to do with the intensity of representation of a whole bunch of things:


          • I agree that a lot of people think it was a major problem because it was widespread, however imo it was a major problem because it was happening at all. And I’ve got no problem with anything getting moved up where deserved (and Gears was most certainly deserved). But those games that were “slightly edited” would almost always end up at the top end of the MA rating – ie. borderline RC – which meant DLC could be potentially push it over the line (and because DLC was often never submitted for classification, the end result would be a game that no longer fit into the MA category.)

            And the wikipedia page is a little misleading – the legislation for classification of film and computer games are still separate, and have different limitations towards the top-end (eg. regarding “violence” – R for films simply states “violence is permitted, sexual violence may be implied, if justified by context” – R for games still has extra constraints on the allowable impact of violence alone: “High impact violence that is, in context, frequently gratuitous, exploitative and offensive to a reasonable adult will not be permitted.”). That said, the Wiki article does tend to simplify by stating the more conservative of the two.

      • By “sexualised violence” do you mean sexual violence?

        Here’s the current games classification guidelines:

        Here’s the old, pre-R 18+ games guidelines which were combined with film guidelines into a single document:

        The only mention of sexualised violence in both guidelines is in the X 18+ category which is films only of course (and it’s obviously banned from X 18+), and in the List of Terms.

        It doesn’t say anywhere that sexual violence in games was banned under the old pre-R 18+ guidelines.
        Quoting extract:

        “MA 15+”
        “Sexual violence may be implied, if justified by context.”

        How tough would the censors have been on this? Dunno.. but probably quite tough. Because the RC guidelines state, among other things:

        “Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of.. sexual violence.”

        Here’s what the current guidelines say for sexual violence in the R 18+ games category:

        “Actual sexual violence is not permitted.”

        “Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.”

        Under RC: “Implied sexual violence related to incentives and rewards.”

        Also, in the current guidelines the phrase “excessive violence” doesn’t appear anywhere; the closest to that is under RC:

        “Depictions of.. violence with a very high degree of impact which are excessively frequent, prolonged, detailed or repetitive.”

        The drugs issue is –
        Drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.

        Interactive illicit or proscribed drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted.

        Detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs.

        Material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use.

      • ^ This ^

        Despite us finally having the much needed rating, there are some misconceptions on both sides that still persist till this day.

        The common one that nothing will be barred/censored.

        Many still don’t know the separation of the rating system and classification code.

    • Groups like the Australian Christian Lobby jumped on it and twisted it into an excuse to bump MA15 games up to R18, whilst keeping all previously banned content banned. It’s a disgusting example of overreach by the more socially conservative lobbies, and now our much-anticipated R18 rating is a step backwards rather than a step forwards.

    • No, even if it were a true blue implementation of R 18+ some content would still be refused classification.

      One example is sexualised violence. We have a classification code under pinning the rating. So even if we have (say) an X rating, if the code forbids something like sexualised violence then it won’t get rated at all.

      The main reasoning for R18+ was to try and keep consistency; before it’s introduction games like GTA 4 were being rated MA 15+ while the rest of the world (including New Zealand) rated it 18+.

  • The DLC for the first one had some pretty out there stuff in it. Well, looks like i may need to “go” to another country for this one.

  • So, no different from the first game then? Anyone play Whistleblower? Nothing like a little genital mutilation to brighten your day…

    • I mean… in the first game there was the threat of it (via table saw), and the result of it displayed (Gluskin’s ‘brides’), but the act of genital mutilation itself was never portrayed. Maybe Outlast 2 one-ups the first-game’s finger-snipping scene…

  • There’s still a way to play it yeah? I loved the first one and was so keen after the demo.

    Knowing our government it’s banned because the upside down cross in the name :/

  • I’ll reserve judgement on whether it’s the right call or not (wrt to the current state of the classification system)… just like I’ll reserve a copy from an overseas retailer.

  • Actually I think I can guess what the issue is. It’s probably similar to Outlast 1 and Whistleblower, except someone is wearing a cross.

  • Does it look like i care what the board says these days if i want a game i want to play ill get it by importing it or via digitally changeing the xbox region or pc 3rd party stores. Maybe there is a solid reason for it being refused. But im going to go shop around the overseas retailers now

  • I remember the original having a shocking scene of necrophilia in it, so if that got passed & this didn’t now I’m extremely curious as to what scenes caused the ban. Personally I’m just going to buy it using my U.S. PS4 account.

  • Well based on some of the descriptions here I don’t think I’ll be motivated to try the first one or any time soon (it was a free GWG)

    But that doesn’t mean other people with stronger constitutions shouldn’t be able to enjoy it

    The irony of all this is that the army of tweens on the Internet who voraciously consume let’s play content from the likes of jacksepticeye or pewdiepie will probably be experiencing this regardless of the classification!

    • My problem with the whole ratings board is the way they treat games differently from other mediums. It’s very rare that equally gory horror movies get banned from distribution, despite featuring similar content. Games are held to a different standard, and I can’t help but feel it speaks to a backward mentality amongst the board themselves that video games are just for kids. “We must protect the children”. It’s out of touch with modern gaming and how broad an audience it has.

  • Am I wrong for thinking this makes no difference at all considering region free?
    Did I miss something?

    • Region free how? If it’s a hard copy they are usually region locked in some way. If you digitally download it, you won’t even see it on the Steam Store if it has been banned in your region. Goodness, I bought Steam key for Risen (Which was banned in Australia for stupid reasons) from a European store front (Gamersgate) and it wouldn’t activate on Steam for me as it was banned in my region.

      • How strange, I got Risen through a Humble Bundle and it activated just fine, probably sometime in 2015. Can’t imagine they’d implement region locking on a title that old after the fact (and yes, agree – stupid reasons, Witcher has the same level of content and thats fine)

        As for hard copies, all XB1 and PS4 physical media is region free, 360 was one of the last consoles that still had hardware locking. This made me very happy, not from an RC standpoint, but I enjoy playing a lot of Japanese ARPGs which don’t usually get a western release.

        • Risen did activate for me originally, but then was later removed. Out of curiosity, go and check your Steam Library, I’m curious to see if yours is still there. It really is madness though. Risen 2 and 3 got through just fine (and are still in my library). It honestly seems like what gets through on any given day depends on the personal tastes of whoever happens to be doing the assessment that day.

        • I Totally agree about being happy for region free. I’d been trying to get a copy of the Raiden games for years but never got released in Oz. JRPG’s are and instant pull for me as well.

      • Take Xbox One, for example. I switch my Xbox region all the time and surf around the different stores for things we don’t have in our Australian marketplace. Can actually buy some games cheaper that way as well.
        I ham always able to get the games I want digitally by doing this. And it always works.

        • Its almost like MS want you to be able to do this, the way they store multiple addresses and multiple currencies on your one Microsoft account.

          • Totally agreed. Maybe they just stopped caring. You can even make purchases cheaper by listing a state that has no sales tax tacked on top of it.

    • When something is refused classification it also becomes a prohibited good thus (in theory) it is illegal to import the material.

      The usually response has always been, “Well they are not going to be checking every parcel.”

      But with the GST threshold being removed come mid this year, it means customs will have to check every parcel and make sure GST has been paid. And if they find a prohibited item then it will most likely ceased and the recipient warned and even fined if it is repeated offence.

      • Fair response in that. Although it doesn’t change multi region consoles and accounts. A simple change and reboot on Xbox one, for example. They only made it easier to circumvent these types of things with region free consoles.

        • As I mentioned in a post above, even digital can be region locked. If it is a Steam key that you try to activate and the product is banned in your region, the key will not work. I have had this happen to me.

          • Yep, thats true – but using a Steam, Xbox or Playstation account created in the foreign region and had the game activate, will still log in and install the game just fine locally. There’s no actual region checks when attempting to run an installed title, and likely easier and cheaper to obtain than risking importing physical media.

            Or, you know, youtube the grizzly bits.

      • And im pretty sure the custom guys all there going to do is scan a barcode or searal number and it will pop up saying gst payed then xray it to see any drugs or guns are in it. there are 1000s of package everyday coming in they dont have the time and manpower to go open all of them up

  • What was the point of fighting for an 18+ rating if they’re still just going to block games from being released anyway??
    If anything, the retards are just blocking the chance to get that sweet, sweet GST the government craves so much because people will Pirate it if they can’t get it legit.

  • I don’t plan on playing it myself but I do plan on watching a play through of the game on YouTube, if a game is refused classification will it be country blocked on YouTube? Obviously it’s easy to get around blocked videos, just curious how that works.

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