We Happy Few Has Been Banned, Again

Annoyed about DayZ? Well don't worry, because Australia's draconian laws aren't done yet.

Remember We Happy Few and the immense debacle around that game's banning last year? Well as it turns out, the game has been refused classification again. The action-adventure was banned in 2018 over the liberal use of the drug Joy, which was a thematic pillar of the game's dystopian universe.

Last year's ban was famously overturned on review after the Classification Review Board (a separate body to the Board) found that the use of the drug Joy was not an incentive, but actually disincentivised through the context of gameplay. It was later reclassified as R18+, but the current RC rating throws a spanner in the works somewhat.

The Reasons Why We Happy Few's Ban Was Overturned

The Classification Review Board - which operates as a separate body to the Classification Board itself - has finally published the reasoning for its decision to overturn the RC rating for We Happy Few. In its report, the review panel noted that the game "quickly establishes" that the hallucinogenic state induced by the drug Joy was "undesirable" and that the game's overall quest was to "avoid the use of the Joy drug".

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It's likely that We Happy Few will remain banned in Australia, because of how our classification system works. The Board has the power to overturn any automated decision with rulings of their own, although that's usually reserved for instances where the Board has reviewed an application separately to the IARC process. Some publishers have also been cheeky enough (*cough*) to submit multiple IARC applications, which just complicates everything.

It's likely that the content of the DLC is what got banned: Lightbearer replaces healing balm for drugs and alcohol, whereby the player heals by drinking coffee, whisky, eating Joy, and all the kinds of drug-induced incentives that have never fit within the classification guidelines. Lightbearer is still rated as R18+ on the Microsoft Store, although that rating was likely for the original game.

Image: Microsoft Store

I've reached out to the Classification Board and Compulsion Games, We Happy Few's developers, for clarification on what's happened here. We Happy Few has been available on PS4, Xbox One and PC for over a year, with the game's second DLC having Lightbearer, launched on July 30.


Comments

    It's a pity the game play was terrible and didn't know what it wanted to be.

      The Classification Board is also terrible and doesn't know what it wants to be.

        This seems super straightforward under our guidelines, though. They replaced all healing mechanisms with drugs and alcohol.

          That's not in itself enough (or shouldn't be). Do they still show that the consumption of them has negative effects as well? If so then it should be overturned. If not, then I suppose it'll be a problem.

          Sidenote: if alcohol is legal for 18 year olds to buy and consume why is it a problem in an 18+ game?

        They definitely need to go back and redefine how they do classification. It's abysmal that mature consumers get punished for these outdated rules

        Well no, dont blame them, they are merely following clear guide lines of what is acceptable. Dislike the guidelines not the board for merely doing their job.

    Its a pity that whilecwe got the R rating, the boards pisition on drugs and sex in video games remained unchanged. Whats the point of an R rating cause all they did was shift a few scarey and bloodier games up to R and make the board a little less queesy trying to justify M15 on gorey shooters.

      Considering the Atelier games are rated R, they’re trying to protect us from wholesome games with female protagonists too!

        Apparently Rorona was rated R due to "high impact sexual violence" or, rape.

        Because of the part where they are molested by a drunk woman and wake up on Rorona's couch not remembering the previous night.

        That's called rape, or at the very least sexual assault.

        Personally, I think we have a very different view on what wholesome means ;-)

          That’s a fair bit more extreme than the take on it than I’d read.

      As others have said, and has been pointed out in nearly every article recently, its not the boards position doing this, but the limitations they have to work with.

      The State Attorney Generals have to have unanimous agreement to change any part of the classification setup, not the board. So when the process says no drug use or sexual violence, it means that. Any game that does so cannot get a classification because the system the board has to work in doesnt give them the discretionary powers to say otherwise.

      The fact they're actively publishing their rulings on these is about all they can publicly do. As a career public servant I can tell you that this is the board protesting these limitations. They cant classify the way they want so they are creating public backlash over it. I expect its not the only thing either.

      Eventually the politicians will catch on and, in the interests of getting voted back in, will do what they can to relax the rules. Which then means convincing all State AG's though, so its not a straightforward process.

      But a) its not the board, and b) they ARE trying to get it changed in the best way they can.

      I think it's good to shift the violence and language up to higher ratings. I have a friend who lets his kids (10ish and 14ish) play stuff like Watchdogs and then gets upset when they swear (using the exact same phrases from the game). Make it obvious that the game is intended for older kids/adults with the ratings.

    Doesn't matter what "your take" is/was. Did this happen or not? If it did, how can it be taken any other way?

    Hell, even when it came out people thought the same.

    A random quote from a random site after a google search, "tiffany molested rorona at the cafe when she was drunk then the next morning tiffany said when she woke up next to eskie eskie was crying ( i thought that was implying that eskie was jealous of tiffany messing around with another girl) and astrid threatened to touch leonella's naughty spot when she was unconscious." (sic).

    At the very least that is implied sexual assault and a threat of sexual assault.

    Like I said, maybe we just disagree on what is "wholesome"

    So wait, the main game is also banned now, because of the DLC? That seems kind of backwards. Then again, when we're talking about backwards... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    What makes you think this will be overturned though Alex? Sounds like the DLC really does rub up against our rules pretty hard.

      I'm pretty sure this won't be overturned on the Board's past form. There's not much room for this to fit in our guidelines without completely changing the mechanics or the convention/context.

        Oh yeah of course, that's what I kind of thought. I was just going off the paragraph that says:

        It's not likely that We Happy Few will remain banned in Australia, because of how our classification system works.

    So what about people who bought this digitally and now no longer have access to a product they paid for? Suddenly the distributes need to remove future and current access to the digital product to comply with Government mandates, and they do not need to refund anyone who bought the digital version as removal of digital goods via Government mandate is not covered under Australian Consumer Law.

      When a product has a Refused Classification status, it cant be bought or sold in Australia. It says nothing about being owned though. As you cant buy it here, its never been blocked as they would see it as a moot point. Cant buy, cant sell = cant own.

      In the past that simply meant importing a banned game and you'd be fine. It might get stopped at Customs if someone decided the risk of you reselling it was enough (happened to my sister), but the chance is slim to none for most.

      Reality is that its just too hard to block every hole so they just wouldnt bother.

      Basically, once you own it you should be fine. Just cant sell it to a second hand dealer. In the modern digital world though, it becomes problematic as you say as you now have the central supplier potentially blocking your usage through their portal. So far though, nothings been blocked once its owned that I remember.

    I just hope The Witcher Wild Hunt Complete Edition for the Nintendo Switch doesn't get refused classification just like what happened to Compulsion Games We Happy Few because the game contained drug use.
    I mean the Australian Classification Board may be terrible but it's their job to refuse classification on upcoming and newly released games that may contain alcohol and drug abuse.

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