Crusader Kings 3 hasn’t been available for purchase in Australia for weeks, and it was never clear why. When the game eventually launched, Australians couldn’t buy it — but you could download it through Xbox Game Pass. Even though the Xbox app also said the game wasn’t available for purchase.
Now, the plot’s starting to become a little clearer. A new listing has appeared on the Classification Board website indicating that Crusader Kings 3 was refused classification, which would mean that the game cannot be legally sold in Australia:
The listing, which only appeared very recently, raises a ton of questions. Firstly, the publisher listing here notes that Crusader Kings 3 was submitted to the IARC process, which means the Classification Board wasn’t even involved with the RC rating. Paradox refused to say what the actual holdup with Crusader Kings 3 in Australia was, but it’s now pretty obvious what the issue is.
My suspicion is that someone has screwed up a form — if the Board approved Cyberpunk 2077 manually with an R18+ rating, a game that lets you customise your genitals and has tons of drugs and gratuitous decapitation, then surely Crusader Kings 3 would be no problem. Crusader Kings 2 and 3 both have PEGI 12 ratings internationally, and Crusader Kings 2 has a T rating in the United States’ ESRB database. There’s even an older listing for Crusader Kings 3 from 2019, where the game was rated M. And in the Xbox app, the game is listed as having an MA15+ rating, although I couldn’t find that rating on the Classification Board website at the time of writing.
In any case, I’ve reached out to the Classification Board to ask a few questions. Being an IARC rating means there won’t be an explicit decision report the same way as if the Board had manually banned a game, like they did with DayZ last year. But there still might be a nugget of information as to the specific clause violated.
Also, if Microsoft are advertising an MA15+ rating now — and the Xbox app is also listing a price for the game, then surely someone on Microsoft’s end must have worked something out with the Classification Board or IARC. That news hasn’t gotten through to Steam, which is still posting a note that the game cannot be sold in Australia “in agreement with the publisher”.
The likely guess here is that Crusader Kings 3 has gotten the all-clear, but technical issues on the Classification Board’s end mean the MA15+ classification isn’t appearing on their website.
Still, I’ve asked for more information about the IARC rating, an update on what’s happening to the game, and questions around the legality of Microsoft providing Crusader Kings 3 to Australians through Xbox Game Pass. If the MA15+ rating advertised on the Xbox app is legitimate — and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be — then there should be no issue. But it does also raise an interesting question as to how Microsoft was letting Australians play the game earlier in the week, before a classification rating was displayed, and how the legislation deals with streaming services like Xbox Game Pass.
This isn’t a DayZ or We Happy Few type situation, and the strongest possibility is that someone screwed up the original IARC submission, causing weeks of nightmares for the studio. Paradox did mention they were using a third-party firm to handle ratings when I reached out for comment.
So the game’s still available to play and, at least through Microsoft, it’s now available for purchase. And that’s a major relief for anyone concerned that their favourite infanticide and horse-monarchy simulator might not be available in Australia, especially those who had their pre-orders cancelled.