Despite being banned for sale in Australia during 2018, Song of Memories is still available on Steam for Australian players. But it won't be for long.
Song of Memories, which describes itself as a romantic adventure, allows you to play as a male character and starts out as a somewhat of a dating simulator before turning into a zombie-esque apocalyptic thriller by the end of it.
While it was initially due for release an August 2018 Australian release, Kotaku confirmed with Australia's Classification Board it was refused classification on August 15 2018, making it illegal to sell or distribute copies in Australia. But a quick check reveals the game is still available for purchase on Steam.
Classification Board confirmed it had asked Steam to make the content unavailable for Australian audiences but as of writing, it still remains available.
"The Department has advised Steam that the computer game, Song of Memories, has been Refused Classification in Australia and has requested that it be removed from sale for Australian audiences," a spokesperson confirmed.
Classification Board's entry says it was refused classification as the game "depict[s], express[es] or otherwise deal[s] 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."
We've reached out to Classification Board to confirm when it requested the game's removal from Steam but it has yet to respond.
With the rise in high-profile video games running into the wall of Australia's classification system, it's high time we revisited an old chestnut: Australia might have an R18 rating for video games, but we also have some hugely strict limits on what can actually be classified R18.
It's understood this could be referring to a particular scene in the game, according to the board's 2018 - 2019 annual report. In it, the report outlines some male characters in the game want to kill one of the main females, Yuno, but decide to commit an act of sexual violence against her beforehand. The report explains the player isn't given an option to avoid this particular sequence.
"A portion of this sexual assault sequence... is also featured in the game’s gallery mode," the report reads.
So, how come it's on Steam?
Since Valve axed its Greenlight program back in 2017, it's been much easier for indie developers to upload their creations. This is generally a good thing but it makes it harder for government bodies like the Classification Board to ensure all the content available on the site has been properly vetted.
This is likely what happened with Song of Memories, which despite being specifically mentioned in their annual report, was still available for digital sales for Australians for more than a year. While censorship might not always be celebrated, it's important that all platforms are treated with the same rulings.
Games don't get banned all that often, and every time it happens there's a surge of interest in Australia's archaic classification system. That's generally followed by a torrent of abuse against the Classification Board, occasionally Australia itself, and more recently, a bit of public vitriol directly against the members of the board. But as was the case when Fallout 3 and Mortal Kombat were completely banned from sale, the same situation applies with DayZ. Rather than directing ire towards the people whose sole job is to enforce the letter of the law, people need to go all the way back to 1995.