The Very Strange Reason Why Crusader Kings 3 Is Being Delayed In Australia

The Very Strange Reason Why Crusader Kings 3 Is Being Delayed In Australia
Image: Crusader Kings 3

Crusader Kings 3 is coming out real soon. Only problem is, you can’t pre-order it in Australia — and it’s not clear why.

Update: Crusader Kings 3 is due to go live in the next 24 hours, and the game still isn’t available in Australia. That’s a real shame, because as per Luke’s review, it’s an incredible game. Original story appears below. 

Update: Crusader Kings 3 still isn’t available for purchase in Australia, but surprisingly, Xbox Game Pass will let you download and play the game. More details here.

About a fortnight ago, users started pinging Paradox Interactive, developers and publishers of the Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis series. Pre-orders were live, but they weren’t available in Australia or New Zealand. The reason? Paradox had to stop selling Crusader Kings 3 in Australia or New Zealand because of “matters having to do with age ratings”.

The company confirmed as such both on Twitter, and on the official CK3 forums. 

After a couple of days, things were cleared in New Zealand — but Paradox seemingly wasn’t able to resolve the situation with Australia. And on Wednesday, the developer posted a third update, saying that Crusader Kings 3‘s “matters having to do with age ratings” would not be resolved “before the global release”.

crusader kings 3
Image: Paradox Interactive Forums

So, what was the problem? Some users speculated that some of CK3‘s content might have run afoul of the Classification Board or Australian legislation. But Paradox never specified what the actual problem was regarding age ratings, and there’s no listing on the Classification Board website outlining that the game has been banned.

I reached out to Koch Media, who were distributing some physical editions of Paradox games in Australia. But they confirmed to me that they weren’t distributing Crusader Kings 3 for physical release here, and that it’d be sold digitally only.

So I contacted the Classification Board. After pressing for a response for a week, a spokesperson got back to me and denied having any contact about CK3 from Paradox, or Koch Media, at all:

The Department has not received any correspondence from Paradox Interactive or Koch Media in relation to the game Crusader Kings III.

So Crusader Kings 3 can’t be sold in Australia yet, and the developers say “age ratings agencies” are the issue. But the Australian equivalent of that, the Classification Board, is saying that Paradox never reached out to them.

I reached out to Paradox to understand what’s happening. I asked about the precise reason for the game’s hold up — and why it’d delay the game after its global launch — and who Paradox had been in contact with to resolve the matter. After all, if the Classification Board hadn’t heard from Paradox, who were they talking to?

When contacted by Kotaku Australia over email, a spokesperson for Paradox Interactive explained that the ratings classifications had been handled by a third party, and Paradox had not been directly engaging with the Classification Board:

Up to this point, we’ve been handling the ratings classification issue through an intermediary body, not the classification board directly. We don’t have any more details to share, I’m afraid, since a lot of this process has to, necessarily, be kept between the parties involved. We hope that things will be resolved soon, so our Australian audience can enjoy Crusader Kings III.

I followed up with Paradox, asking if the studio could reveal why the situation with the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification was resolved. I also asked whether any further context could be provided, since the whole scenario makes absolutely no sense.

Paradox didn’t outline why, but a spokesperson did offer this:

Though New Zealand may often be in sync with Australian ratings, it has its own distinct process, and this process cleared Crusader Kings III for sale in its territory. We have full confidence in our collaboration with, and the professionalism of, the ACB.

As it stands, Australians — just Australians, not New Zealanders — will miss out on Crusader Kings 3 when it launches next week. Some stores, like Fanatical, have even gone as far as to cancel Australian pre-orders.

Why is this happening? Paradox won’t say, and as far as I can tell the Classification Board doesn’t know why either.

It’s all a little bit strange, and it sounds more like crossed wires rather than a hold up over classification or censorship. Here’s hoping the situation is cleared up promptly for CK3 fans locally. Until then, at least everyone still has a VPN.


  • Wow plot twist. As someone studying history currently I was expecting to read this had something to do with underage marriage or one of the many other ways this history deals with unsavory topics… but nah this is weird indeed.

  • I suspect lawyers. Who else would you employ to handle this sort of stuff in another country? Someone who had the job of filing the application didn’t… possibly lockdown is to blame.

    That would explain why no-one is willing to comment.

  • Okay, so what if you had already pre-ordered and it still appears in my games list on Steam? Can I still play on release without enabling an overseas VPN?

    • Making a new account in a different Steam region? Was mostly just a reference to Turnbull sanctioning people using VPNs to get around this sort of stuff, really.

    • There are plenty of third party key sellers though, legitimate and otherwise, who you can buy a key from.

      So long as you’re buying a non-region locked key, or a even a NA/W Europe key (or more or less anything not Russia, really), it will activate on your Steam account just fine.

  • As they’re going digital only, I was half wondering if they’d done the IARC survey and got back a bad rating. Except that Steam doesn’t yet participate in IARC, so that wouldn’t produce a usable classification.

    It wouldn’t be surprising if they were working with local specialists who identified some issues that would likely cause problems before submission though.

  • I did manage to get my pre-order in before the cutoff, and it’s showing two items in my Paradox Store account – one for Paradox and one for Steam.

    This might mean that it will be added to Stellaris and Surviving Mars as Paradox games you can launch through their own client instead of Steam, and make it available tomorrow (if you pre-ordered in good faith). Will let you know.

  • Just a guess but maybe the 3rd party acting as an intermediary between Paradox & the ACB simply forgot to submit it for classification and now have to wait. It would explain why the ACB said no one had been in contact with them and why Kotaku didn’t find any mention of the game being banned.

  • The current Australian government is completely useless. Everything they have done in every industry, they have managed to screw something up. I suspect this is no different.

  • Still no word from Paradox Interactive about this, they have been extremely coy in any update they do give. Bunch of cowards. I’m usually one of the first to denounce people who pirate games but if someone were to say they pirated this game I wouldn’t even be disappointed in them.

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