Cyberpunk 2077 Might Have Troubles Getting Rated In Australia

People have been waiting keenly for Cyberpunk 2077 ever since it was first announced. But judging by the Australians who have gotten hands-on time with the new CD Projekt RED RPG at E3 this year, there's a genuine concern that it might not get past the Classification Board.

Whenever a game is refused classification in this country, it's usually due to two things. The first is around the depiction of sexual content, typically involving sexual violence or the depiction of minors in sexual scenes, acts, and so forth. That's how a lot of anime-style games, like Omega Laybrinth Z, get slapped with an RC.

The other, and more common, reason for a ban: drugs. "Computer games will be refused classification if they include or contain 'drug use related to incentives and rewards,'" the Classification Board's report for We Happy Few said.

It's a clause that has seen changes to Fallout, State of Decay, and numerous other games. And it's because of that clause that many Aussies, in town for E3, are worried.

David Hollingworth, editor over at PC Powerplay and a friend of the site, noted that drug usage was a big theme in the Cyberpunk 2020 source material as well:

He also tweeted this image from the rulebook, which I've taken out separately (because it's rotated on Twitter):

Image: Twitter (David Hollingworth)

A detail confirmed by IGN is that the player uses an inhaler to heal, which historically has been a giant red flag for the Classification Board. The censors have always been very quick to ban anything that treats drug use as a reward, whether those drugs are over-the-counter medicines or via prescription.

Asthma medication is a pretty broad range of medicine - there's preventative puffers, combination preventers, tablets, puffers just for relief - but in general, it's difficult to see how the Board wouldn't have a problem with this. State of Decay fell afoul of censors because "it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication", and it seems Cyberpunk 2077 will run into the same issue unless there is an alternative healing mechanism.

That said, Cyberpunk 2077 is still a long way from being released. E3 is still ongoing for this year, and if we can get some more info from CD Projekt RED about the game's use of drug usage and how that might affect its release in Australia, we'll let you know. Correction: GalGun was never RC'd in Australia, although EB did pull it from sale voluntarily. Apologies for the confusion.


Comments

    Don't make them drugs, make them cyber drugs. Cyber drugs don't exist so little kids can't use them.

      Remember Saints Row 4 having Alien Narcotics? A non-existant form of drugs that the player can take? Yeah, that got Saints Row 4 banned till they removed the mission from the game.

        Because Alien drugs are real, kids can get their hands on them.

      Didn't work for Saints Row 4, alien narcotics in a virtual reality world, can't take those, still got banned.

        Saints Row 4 was refused classification BEFORE the R18+ rating for video games came into effect. It's possible that it may have passed if it had been reviewed for classification after that time.

          I don't think so on that one, actually. I remember seeing Blood Dragon on the shelf at EB with an R18+ rating, and that came out several months before SRIV.

      Just make them Nanos.

        Probably is, nannies (nanites), recombinant genetech, and tailored retroviruses are all part of CP2020 supplements already. Something exactly like the inhaler doesn't come to mind so without more detail it could either be speedheal (drug that boosts healing rates for a few hours but will dull your reflexes for a week after use) or something far less problmatic.

      We Happy Few's 'Joy' doesn't exist either. That game even had the excuse of contextual drug use, which the ACB wrongfully ignored.

      Let's face it. The ACB is likely to pull its usual shenanigans and RC this game.

        The upside is that the Classification Board rejecting what is arguably the biggest release coming out in 2019/20 will cause people to politicise it and try to change the system again. We Happy Few is a stupid, stupid travesty but it isn't as hot as Cyberpunk.

          That would be a somewhat dubious silver lining, to be sure :-)

        Though it would also depend on what they showed the board and how. Context is king.

          Not really. The board has rules to follow. Even if it was full of gamers, they would have to refuse classification because if falls afoul of the rating rules. The board doesn't make those rules.

            That's completely true, but they don't play the game. They get given segments of it.
            Now they say no drug use that's rewarding. As people have said the game is about how bad it is. The segments they got may have lacked the context needed to make that decision.

            @guestwhowould is right though, in that the board needs to take into account context as per the rating guidelines. As we've seen though, the board has a pretty spotty track record on that score.

      Unfortunately this also does not comply with Australian Baby Koala happiness laws

      It's not just the drug themes, It's the hacking of ppl, Remember Syndicate? You probably don't because it was banned.

        I own and beaten Syndicate. What caused a problem was the ability to drill through someones ear to pull out a chip from their brain with x-ray vision.

          That's not even mentioned in the Classification Board's decision, actually.

      For the record, the Board is overreaching both here and in We Happy Few.

      The actual guidelines for classification specifically state -
      Computer games will also be Refused Classification if they contain:
      (i) illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards;
      (ii) interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic.

      Neither of which are the case here, as unlike in Fallout and Risen where they tried to use the actual RL drug names such as morphine and reefer, Joy is not a real life drug, and nor are products such as Synthcoke or Speedheal. As such, these products are neither illicit nor proscribed drugs, and by law should not be relevant factors in the classification of a game. The only possibly relevant factor would be if they animated the use, which is an easy bypass by disabling that animation in Australian versions.

      Therefore an appeal could be made on these grounds that the board acted improperly in considering these as part of the grounds in making a classification.

    I will get my hands on this game one way or another.

      Amen!

      Yup. Will import. I’m a grown adult, and will do what I want.

        Is it still considered "importing" if I use a VPN to download the game from another country?

          Lol. Just using your head instead of bowing to the whim of a tyrannical regime.

        I use an inhaler in my day-to-day life. I will do want I need to breathe in a comfortable manner.

    Thats rather upsetting to hear.

    I still believe the "Refuse Classification" was not updated when R18 was authorised for games. The classifications contradict each other... one allows content that may offend a subset of the community, while the other immediately refuses it if Any subset is offended.

    Why is R18 games are 95% violence and gore... murder is the worse crime in society, oh but dont mention sexuality or medicine usage. Thats a banning.

      the R18 category just allowed for an increase level of Violence, it did not change at all for drug use or sexual content. High Impact Sexual Violence is still a big No even in movies and no violence is allowed at all in X18 (porn)

        R18+ rating applies equally to all media regardless of format, there is no differential there... however the "Refuse Classification" has that outdated practice of negatively scaling "interactive experiences" that drug and sexual references in movies/tv/books is not the same as that in a video game. That exception to the rule is bias, and outdated to both the R18 classification update and is just abuse of power of red tape by those who sit on the board.

        Television can have a whole series dedicated to school teacher cooking meth, but oh better not have a health kit have any sort of animation implying ingestion, injection or inhalation. Even then their is no hard of fast rule on that either sometimes its a flat out ban, others its a rename... the board is vague sometimes. In we Happy Few it was banned, but in Fallout 4 you get an old lady to overdose, and in GTA you steal drugs for a guy with a limp.

        The Refuse Classification guidelines were NEVER updated for the R18+ rating, they seemed to be still too hardline on the refusal, when we are adults.

          The RC guidelines are also pretty vague and inconsistent in their application.

          This is the bigger issue than what they say since it falls down to, however, the panel of 3 people making the decision view the matter. Combine this with the fact that representation for the Australian demographic is pretty bad on the ACB means often groups with ties to religious organizations or are outdated fuddy-duddies that are the ones making the interpretation.

          Sure, I do believe that we need an overhaul with the legislation since the entire concept of the Australian Government deciding what is moral for the community is all sorts of messed up. But to really start with we need a more enlightened and transparent approach to decision making including clear benchmarks.

          Last edited 14/06/18 10:42 am

      Why is R18 games are 95% violence and gore... murder is the worse crime in society, oh but dont mention sexuality or medicine usage. Thats a banning.

      Why? Because the only way to get all the State Attorneys General to agree to it was to effectively turn the old MA15+ category into R18+. We didn't get a true adult rating.

        (The R18+ movement shot themselves in the foot by arguing that we were getting 18+ games in a 15+ category)

          Well we were. Something like 60% of our MA games were rated higher in other countries.

            That was absolutely a problem, but because we campaigned only on that problem, we ended up getting only that problem fixed.

    Yawn. It's cheaper to import anyway than buy at EB Games. Just gotta wait a few days, no biggie.

      EB price matches everything :/ if you pay RRP you're a sucker haha

        Every single EB Games I have ever tried to price match through have tried their hardest to not do so. I prefer to price match at places like Big W where they aren't relying on the sales of games to pay their wage so they are happy to price match games without a drama.

          Even JB Hifi do way better than EB at price matching. In my experience, anyway. EB find any little fucking excuse to deny.

          Heck, Big W is pretty much always cheapest anyway.

          I've never had a problem matching at EB ever, most of the time these days they don't even bother to call up the store I'm matching to like they used to.

            agreed @mrtaco, never have any issues!

            "hey guys, target has this for 69 can you price match ?

            "yeah no problem man, this is the steelbook edition and we'll give it to you for the same price"

      Don't let them try to scare you with the whole 'it's illegal and customs will get it' thing either, I have never had any trouble with importing banned games, so I believe that they don't even bother with enforcing any of that through customs.

        If customs searches your package they may intercept and fine you, and that's going to be much more likely with the GST threshold removed. Previously that would only happen if something was wrong with the package, eg there was something else that looked suspicious inside or the customs manifest didn't match. They process so many packages they don't have time or resources to check for someone importing a naughty copy of Mortal Kombat or something, they're busy stopping the people trying to smuggle in a kilo of cocaine and a pair of live rattlesnakes.

        That said, I imported a ton and did get a package searched once. One of the Prinny games on PSP came with a small plush, and I'm pretty sure they searched the package because of the fact the manifest just said "video game" and on an xray I bet it looked like a bag of drugs.

          I wouldn't worry about it too much.

          The ACB has a piss poor reputation for being upfront with information on what they have given an RC to. 9/10 Customs doesn't even know if something is on the list.

          All customs, which will now have even more work to do with the GST change, will care about is that you pay them the tariff.

          And to be really technical on the matter just because something is RC does not actually make it illegal to possess or own. Sure they say this a lot in different political platforms but the reality is that it's mostly bluster and smoke that is not enforceable legally if you were to challenge them on it. Unless it has illegal content such as child porn then you could challenge the seizure and would likely win it.

          Last edited 14/06/18 10:56 am

        Given a lot of the games I've bought from the US or Japan are either RC or would never be touched in Oz, and customs have opened and checked the games... they don't really care.

        I just got my copy of the LE MeiQ last week, and it had been opened. Its only if you're a seller that you're going to get your stock confiscated.

          It can be hit and miss, and depend on who you're dealing with.

          My sister has had games confiscated by customs because you couldn't buy them here. Argument was that she could sell them second hand, which isn't allowed. The rules about RC don't stop people owning it, just that it cant be sold here, and that apparently includes second hand copies.

          Other times, not a problem. Here's your bag, have a nice day. But that's where the issue lies with customs - second hand sales. Now you're adding GST into the mix its only going to get more confusing.

          I'm like most here. If a game falls afoul of those rules, slap an 18+ sticker on it and let the adults be adults. If a game is that bad it deserves to be blocked, then its really not going to sell at all.

          But the games like this and We Happy Few, that straddle the line (heavily tipping to the 'Not a Problem' side), its pretty clear that adults can make those decisions for themselves. So let them.

    Honestly, the finger waving puritan bullsh*t we get from our politicians is utterly absurd given the way they conduct themselves. It's like real life Mayor Quimby stuff.

    'Gamers are destroying the NBN for everyone else with their drug fueled game paraphernalia, won't somebody please think of the children?!?! Coming up next, the latest debauchery and violence filled Game of Thrones episode...'

    How did State of Decay 2 and Fallout get past? I thought it was only a problem when they named the drugs after real drugs?

    Fallout had Jet which also gave you a stats boost.

    We should start another campaign (change.org) about this. I'm happy for them to rate a game R18+ so only adults can play but then I expect to be treated like an adult.

      They renamed it to Jet and Med-X. That's how it was passed.

        So then why was "We Happy Few" refused classification? The name of the drug is joy.

        It's not a real drug.

          Hey, I don't make the rulings. I don't enforce consistency. I'm just telling you what happened.

            Hey mate, I'm not suggesting you do but it's the reason why I asked the question. I'm trying to understand what the differences are.

            Fallout & State of Decay were able to get through the censors after they renamed the "drugs" because they were named after real-life drugs. 'We Happy Few' is RC'd but didn't use a real life drug so I'm asking everyone if anyone understands the logic behind it.

              Maybe the secret is to submit the game with real life drug names, then when they refuse it, resubmit with fantasy names and the board will approve because you changed the one gripe they had.

              I tthink it was more because it was one of the early cases. They originally had Morphine and changed it to Med-X. That seemed to be enough at the time.

              Yes ... It's inconsistent. I agree. I don't understand why later games were banned, except to say that they have different people doing the evaluations. It could be how the company put it forward. It could be the reviewer. I don't really know.

                FO3 was pre R18+, for some reason the implementation of morphine (which included a lot of the very real side effects of usage) got noted as a drug use incentive and fufued, OTOH Velvet Assassin which literally abuses morphine for the entire story got passed.

        Jet has been called Jet since Fallout 2, A character "Myron" invented Jet in Fallout 2 despite Bethesda's lack of attention to lore.

    So..... shooting, stabbing and running over people with cars are completely fine but using an inhaler to heal is a big no-no?

      Don't you know, all the notorious criminals are asthmatics?

        next time I see someone reaching for their inhaler, I will slap that out of their hand.

        It's true. I had to stop halfway through beating a dude with a baseball bat to get my breath back.

          OK, that got me

            Hey Alex, Remember Syndicate's refusal, That was for hacking ppl, It's relevant unfortunately.

              It wasn't. I keep seeing this in the thread but that is not what is mentioned in the report, it's the fact you could dismember people with weapons (complete with post-mortem arterial splatter, visible bones etc) and that you could cut apart corpses.

                This above. It was the gratuitous violence (their view, not mine) that couldn't fit into an MA15+ rating, because we didn't have R18 at the time. Syndicate would be fine if it was rated today.

        Gateway drug.
        First you're sucking on a puffer so you don't die.
        Next you start injecting.

    This is disturbing indeed but wild horses - not even Roach - could drag me away from this game when it finally comes out. If I have to I'll buy it from some shady guy in a back alley along with a copy We Happy Few (and maybe some actual drugs).

    Yo ho yo ho a pirate's life for me.

      Don't punish CDPR for the ratings board. Just buy a key from CJs or something.

      Just buy from GoG and you'll be fine

        I think CDPR do direct download as well. CDPR are cool.

          Yeah. If there's one company I want to give my monies to, it's CDPR.

          CDPR own GOG, so if you want to go direct that's the best place.

            Cool. I think I knew that, but now I definitely know.

              Not only that, but everything on their site is DRM free. Including their own games. Once you've bought it, you can download as many copies of the install as you want, and install as many times as you want.

              That's how I got hooked on The Witcher 3. Workmate gave me a copy. After a few hours of play I was so impressed that I paid for the game.

              The GOG Galaxy client will manage all your games purchased through them as well.

        Yeah, and even if it's region blocked, they're fairly laissez faire when it comes to changing your region and/or using VPNs.

    I've got to ask, why is this a refused classification, and yet this last week i've been chugging stat-boosting whiskey in West of Loathing on Switch with no problem? Why is the distinction between drugs and alcohol made? It seems like they should be policed equally? Anyone know the history with that? 'Incentivised alcohol use' or something similar isn't even mentioned on West of Loathing's rating.

      Alcohol is taxed and makes a phenomenal amount of money and is "a part of Australian culture".

      It's because Australia has an inconsistent approach to the application of the classification laws. So depending on who you get on the 3 person panel with often impact the way they interpret and apply the law. So if your game lucks out and gets the fuddy-duddy hit squad (j/k that's all of them) of religious types and that mother with no grasp of the world then you're SOL.

      I also just realised you can take actual laudanum in West of Loathing and the item description even specifies that it contains opium. Um, nobody tell the government?

    I sometimes wonder about the wording of their rules.
    I mean if you had an asthmatic protagonist, and using a puffer gave you a temporary stat boost, isn't that still an incentive to use the drugs? Does that mean my hypothetical "Asthma Marathon 2019" game would be RC?

    I will overthrow the godsdamned government if this gets banned.

    When are the rating board going to realize that they are kinda pointless?
    I can only speak on a console side of things, but since we are all region free or have the ability to change console location, it makes these kind of articles amusing

    Question. What happens if you buy a physical PC copy from overseas and register the code on an Australian steam account? Asking for a friend...

      Physical copies will most likely contain codes for GOG not steam. They did the same with Witcher 3

      In the past this has usually worked and given you whichever version of the game you have the key for, however Steam's not 100% consistent in its handling of the use of overseas keys. I think it's largely down to what the publisher wants. Given it's CDPR I'm sure they wouldn't put any pressure on Valve to block keys from other regions - kinda goes against their pro-consumer attitude.

      In short I would expect this to work just fine but it's impossible to say for certain.

      I also BELIEVE it's totally legal since AFAIK things being RC'd restricts them from sale but doesn't make them illegal to own/consume. Not 100% sure on that though.

      EDIT: If it's a GOG Key I would expect it to just work, what with GOG having "no DRM" as a cornerstone.

        @troubletcat It depends upon what it was RC'ed for. Drug use - you're fine to own it, however if it was RC'ed for the depiction of sexual activity involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years then that would be illegal to own as it falls under other legislation which makes it illegal.

      Im pretty sure the creators can set certain versions to only be activate-able in certain regions, kind of like why some games on key sites have euro areas or us only. some devs dont care but some are forced into regionalising their content because of a regions law.
      so with steam the only way to activate say a US only product is to be using an account with a US address AND a vpn connection to the us, then the game should launch.
      unless its changed in the last few years and im entirely wrong, then yeah should be like that. physicality plays little part in our digital age.
      consoles are a different story though.

    Atleast ps4 isnt region locked :) *puts hand on heart* yes im a temporary american for this purchase OH SAY CAN YOU SEE....
    but in all honesty can you guys imagine how much it would suck if customs actively blocked the import of games from other countries?

      I'm sure a lot of Australians will be upset when they open their fresh new copy of the latest Hello Kitty game to instead find that the seller accidentally put Cyberpunk 2077 inside.

    Clearly the guidelines need an update.
    The question is though, how long until the ACB realize it?
    But I agree if a high profile game like this gets banned - it may push the issue further into light. we can hope - if that does happen.
    We'll see how this develops.

    Last edited 13/06/18 5:11 pm

      Does the ACB have a part in setting their own guidelines? My understanding is that the ratings laws are set by government and the ACB is an enforcer of those laws.

        Fairly sure it's the COAG (Council of Australian Governments) that decides the guidelines and the ACB are just the limp wristed enforcers. A pretty ham-fisted approach when you consider the average age of council members is approaching 65. I don't see anything changing any time soon.

          They're coming close to retirement age then.

            Don't worry they have plenty of fuddy-duddies they can call on to backfill the positions.

              As per federal public service guidelines even if you have people to fill the role internally you must advertise and interview external people. Though they haven't put anyone knew on since last year. Never know could get lucky.

          Yes, the legislation and guidelines are set by the government.

          However, the interpretation and application vary a lot depending on who you get on the 3 personal panel doing the assessment.

          The biggest on-going criticism of the whole ACB, it's guidelines and legislation is 1) having the government decide what is moral for the community at large is all kinds of messed up and 2) that the process lacks transparency that other processes have. The latter is so bad that often other parts of the government are not even aware of what rulings have been made as RC. This lack of transparency also becomes an issue of accountability to the Australian public or rather the lack thereof.

    It's going to be DRM free. You gotta believe that if Aussies can't buy it, they'll still be playing it.

    For interest sake, how do I get my ps4 to think it's another region?

      You don't need to. Just set up another user on your PS4 and create a PSN account for the US/UK/wherever. A little bit of trickery is needed to buy from those regions as they usually won't accept Australian credit cards/Paypal accounts, but it's not hard to purchase PSN cards for the right region online.

      Alternately just buy the disc from overseas, games don't have region coding (although if there's DLC, you'd need to get it from the region you purchased in, so see above for that).

    wasn't witcher 1 also censored?

    i know for Witcher 2 there was a pricing issue and basically GoG was like "buy from us and we'll give you credit"

    honestly if Cyberpunk get RCed or censored you can bet CD Project will do something

    Remind me which version of Gal Gun has been banned in Australia again? Coz I cant see any being banned....

    http://www.classification.gov.au/Pages/Results.aspx?q=gal+gun&t=lfc

      Its just stupid internet 'journalists' believed their own bullshit. Gal Gun was never banned in Australia. It was removed from sale by EB games, and they even let people keep their preorders if theyd already made them before the announcement.

      Its the same thing as claiming all Manhunt fames are banned in the US, as every major retailer refused to stock them.

        It was banned in Germany, and pulled from sale voluntarily in Australia, but not given an RC here from memory.

          You dont need to have a memory of it - the classification website has all the details very clearly there. Your "memory" isnt an excuse for not fact checking

            That's fixed now, put the update through on my phone. Always happy to fix up something that's wrong.

      Yeah, I keep running into articles that imply the Gal*Gun games are banned in Australia. They really aren't though.

      You can find that on the ratings authority website (rating r18+ - sexual content related to incentives and rewards).

      Double Peace can be found on the Australian steam store with little effort.

      Gal*Gun 2 was literally the very first entry on the nintendo switch's e-shop in Australia for well over a week.
      (boy, Nintendo has come a long way since the 90's huh. XD)

      EB games did voluntarily pull the games from sale, but not due to any ban...
      Just because...

      Afaik it IS banned in New Zealand for both sale and import.
      Which is worth knowing if you visit there semi-regularly.
      Not sure what the penalty is. Confiscation if you're lucky.
      Posession of child pornography if you're not. (no seriously. Given the justification for the ban, that's definitely possible.)
      Egh.
      Japanese media can be it's own special little quagmire of legal problems. XD

        Yeah, EB pulled the game but we never reported - can't speak for others though - that it was *banned* in Australia. I think EB just pulled sale as a knee-jerk reaction when they realised a bit more about what was in the game, and didn't want to be associated with any potential PR fallout.

          You said above:

          EB pulled the game but we never reported - can't speak for others though - that it was *banned* in Australia

          Your article says:

          That's how a lot of anime-style games, like GalGun and Omega Laybrinth Z, get slapped with an RC.

          We all know that RC means banned. You wrote both of those pieces above. Am I missing something? Because it seems pretty clear you've just reported it as being banned ("RC'd)

          Also what has Germany got to do with anything when this article and the two games youve mentioned are all about Australia

            Ah right, I see what you're getting at now (re. Comment above).

            I'll make a correction in a second, sit tight. Apologies for the confusion.

              All good - sorry if it came across aggressive

    Change it all to different versions of sugar.

    Cocaine? How about white sugar.
    Heroin? Nah, just have some corn syrup.

    They might retroactively ban Brave New World next

      Um if you mean Aldous Huxley's novel it was named a prohibited import in October 1932. It remained as such until at least 1937.

    Gotta laugh at the irony.

    They'll (very likely) ban a game which includes virtual future-drugs and gambling... but they have no issues with games which teach kids to gamble real money (ie Overwatch loot boxes).

    Won't somebody think of the children?

      As they say the law is an ass especially when you're talking classification (federal) and gambling (state) in the same sentence.

    Ummmm. Soooo... buy internationally and have it posted to you?

    The government doesn't control our computers yet!

      Not from lack of trying

        And it's only a matter of time before the operating system itself locks us out of anything dodgy or illegal. But right now it's still possible.

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