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.
Currently the sales of CK3 in Australia & New Zealand are halted as we are investigating matters having to do with age ratings. We’re working on resolving this as soon as possible and Paradox will honor already placed pre-orders.
Thanks for your understanding & patience.
— Crusader Kings III (@CrusaderKings) August 21, 2020
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”.
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.