Disco Elysium was supposed to be launching on consoles next week, but unfortunately that won’t be happening in Australia. And while the refused classification for Final Cut wouldn’t affect people who own the game on Steam, there was always one little problem left over — the fact that Australians could still buy Disco Elysium in the first place.
ZA/UM’s award winning cRPG has been available locally largely because of an oversight in how Steam operates in Australia. If you’re selling games physically or on consoles, those games have to receive an Australian classification. That can either be done through the IARC online tool — provided the developers don’t mess up the form — or via a direct submission to the Classification Board.
The Final Cut was getting a physical release here, so it was reviewed, and banned, manually. And that’s a bit of a problem. Because technically, it’s not just refused classification games that can’t be sold in Australia — unrated games aren’t supposed to be sold here, either.
Kotaku Australia contacted the Department of Communications (under which the Classification Board sits) to check how the ban would affect Final Cut‘s release next week in a manner of ways. Australians don’t have to buy the game to access it, and thanks to information revealed in the Classification Board’s report, you can participate in the game just by watching on Twitch:
“[Disco Elysium] contains online interactivity in the form of integration with the streaming platform Twitch, which allows stream viewers to vote on what dialogue options the player should choose. The game also contains in-game purchases in the form of the purchase of objects.”
So the question remained: if Final Cut was banned in Australia, would that mean that it would be banned from streaming on Twitch as well, at least as far as Australians were concerned? And what would it mean for the release of Disco Elysium on existing PC platforms, and its potential display on YouTube?
I didn’t receive any answers on the specifics for platforms outside of Australia. But Kotaku Australia understands that Valve has been contacted over the sale of Disco Elysium to Australians. Disco Elysium‘s publisher has also been advised that unclassified and refused classification games can not be sold in Australia — and thanks to the ACCC/Valve verdict, any company that does business to Australians is considered to be doing business in Australia.
In other words: if you’re selling to Australians, you’re doing business in Australia. And in Australia, you can’t sell unrated video games — which includes Disco Elysium. DayZ found itself in a similar situation a couple of years ago after it was refused classification, and after being contacted by the Government over the sale of RC’d games, DayZ was pulled from sale.
At the time of writing, Disco Elysium still appears on Steam for Australian IPs and those accessing the Steam page via Australian accounts. If you haven’t bought the game already, I’d do it very bloody soon. Disco Elysium was well worth your money before all of this began. And given some of its content, I wouldn’t expect The Final Cut to get unbanned until Australia’s classification guidelines are rewritten. And it sure as hell doesn’t seem like the Government will rewrite those guidelines any time soon.
As a reminder: if you already own Disco Elysium on Steam, or through GOG where offline installers are a thing, this shouldn’t affect you. Banned games on Steam before, like DayZ, have remained accessible in users’ libraries.