Chances are you don't remember Warface, a free-to-play military shooter developed by the studio behind the Crysis games. It launched in Russia in 2012 before getting a global PC and Xbox 360 launch. Before long, however, Crytek shut the Xbox 360 version down and the game was sold in its entirety to Mail.ru.
It's still in active development — the game launched on Xbox One last year and has been getting steady updates — but Warface isn't a game that has a huge fanbase in Australia. But at least one person is interested in the game's presence down under, enough to file a freedom of information request to the Classification Board.
Being an Australian government body, the national censor is required by law to have a publicly viewable disclosure log outlining all freedom of information requests made. This isn't new: the ABC has something similar, as do most government bodies.
These logs are fairly straightforward. People can apply for access to copies of documents, emails, notes and other materials held by the Classification Board and other government agencies. Most of the time you'll get access, but sometimes departments can refuse, such as when the request isn't complete, doesn't relate to documents held by that particular department, or people are asking for commercial in confidence documents, Cabinet papers, or other things that are exempt under the FOI guidelines.
Most of what gets published is boring as all buggery. There's a lot of notes about NBN briefings — historical numbers on the financial progress of NBN Co, the progress of the rollout and that sort of thing — the strategic roadmap of Foxtel, FOI requests for documents on certain laws, an outage of the 000 emergency hotline in 2018, the Mobile Black Spot program, and someone who made a filing asking how much the department spent on a lawyer.
But the most recent request, as of April, was someone asking for documents relating to the original classification application for Crytek's Warface. Which was classified in 2013.
The documents released under FOI include some emails between the Classification Board and publisher Trion Worlds, with the Board advising Trion that they needed to supply further information about coarse language and any references to alcohol in the game:
You have stated in your application that the game contains no language (or sexual references, sex scenes, nudity, drug references, drug use or themes) however the word [redacted] was used in the gameplay footage provided. The Board requires information on all coarse language contained in the game as well as any other relevant content, even if it should be a lower level of impact than the violence.
Dutifully, Trion responded with a list of curse words included in voice-over lines that the player would hear, as well as any references to alcohol in-game, and what interactions were possible.
Fun fact: back in the day, Trion paid over $2000 to have Warface classified. That's how much they had to pay to have the application assessed by someone who wasn't authorised, but it was also cheaper than if the Board had asked Trion for a live demo (which would have cost $2460 by itself, plus another $1310 for the application fee).
The Warface documents were applied for, and received, on April 26 this year. It's possible that some of the former Warface developers are the ones behind this — some of the old Crytek developers have formed their own studio, Blackwood Games, becoming responsible for all future development on Warface.
Warface, which has been spun off into a series of comics, is still getting updated with new content and raids. The most recent addition was Sunrise, a PvE raid set in traditional Japan, as well as the announcement of the Mars "special operation" update.
But the question still remains: why is someone interested in Warface's original classification process? The most likely answer is the developer or the publisher needed the info for a fresh classification application — while Warface is accessible to Australians on PC and Xbox now, and can be sold on those platforms as is, the game can't be listed on the Nintendo eShop without classification ratings from the eShop's respective territories. Warface's existing label might not be enough, given how old the original rating is, so it's possible that Nintendo has told the studio that it needs a new classification rating (due to the amount of content released since launch) before the game can be listed on the eShop.
That's if it's coming to the Switch, anyway. All we know for sure is that someone went to the trouble of digging up old documents on the game's Australian classification. And to top it off, there's this from the game's current publisher My.com:
Will we see Warface at E3, and if so, at what conference?