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.

[referenced url=”https://www.kotaku.com.au/2018/07/we-happy-few-ban-classification-board-review-reasons/” thumb=”https://www.kotaku.com.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2018/05/WeHappyFew-410×231.jpg” title=”The Reasons Why We Happy Few’s Ban Was Overturned” excerpt=”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”.”]

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.

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.


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