An Extensive Look Back At Some Of The Games Australia Has Banned

An Extensive Look Back At Some Of The Games Australia Has Banned
Image: Katana Zero

While Australia has a long history of video game development, as a nation we’re probably more famous for the games we have banned.

This story has been updated and retimed since its original publication.

Mary Skelter: Finale

mary skelter finale
Image: Supplied

Mary Skelter: Finale is the latest game to be banned in Australia, and the reasons for its RC rating are pretty damning.

It received a ping for both 1(a) and (b) in the Australian classification criteria, which identifies games that:

“depict, express or otherwise deal 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,”


“describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not).”

While the exact reasons for the ban are unclear without an official decision report, the reasons heavily imply one or more of its young-looking cast may have been involved in a sexual situation.

The Mary Skelter games have been flagged as fan service-heavy ‘tits and arse’ dungeon crawlers in the past, and it’s likely this ‘fan service’ was what caused the ban hammer to swing.

Sludge Life

sludge life devolver digital banned
Image: Sludge Life / Devolver Digital

Sludge Life is a relatively innocuous graffiti simulator where you run around a 3D world painting walls and meeting strange characters.

Unfortunately, it also lets you take drugs — and we know how the Classification Review Board feels about that. While it’s available on PC via the Epic Games Store and Steam for quite some time, Sludge Life was banned in 2021 when it was ported to Switch. So if you want to play it on that console, you’re out of luck.

Luckily it’s still available basically everywhere else, so you should have no drama if you just want to chill and graffiti your way through town on PC.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut

disco elysium banned final cutDisco Elysium is a surreal game where drugs are part of the gameplay, narrative and mechanics. And while taking drugs has obvious negative side effects in the game (which would normally render it “okay” by classification standards), the Final Cut re-release of the game was banned in Australia regardless.

The issue with this cut of the game over the original cut appeared to be a new ‘speed’ button which highlighted drug use — but it’s likely the game’s whole drug-related system rattled the ratings board.

That the original game even made it passed the board in the first place is wild, and this ping was inevitable. Luckily, the decision to ban Final Cut was eventually overturned, and the game was re-rated R18+ earlier this year.

Crusader Kings III

crusader kings 3 sale deals black friday green man gaming pc games
Screenshot: Crusader Kings III

Crusader Kings III was briefly banned from sale in Australia in 2020, although the reasons why remain unclear.

At the time, Kotaku Australia reported there appeared to be confusion on both sides of the fence, with developer Paradox Interactive stating it had been investigating matters of “age ratings” and the Australian Classification Review Board saying it had received no correspondence from the developer.

It may have been a case of crossed wires, because despite the game originally receiving an RC rating it later appeared on digital stores with a relatively normal MA15+ rating. In the end, the game’s Australian ban was brief, strange and unexplained.

Psychedelic Mushroom Mod for Minecraft

psychedelicraft mod banned
Image: shelemekh

A key sticking point in Australia’s classification laws is the use of drugs in video games. While other rating systems around the world are a bit more lenient, Australia has a hard stance against depicting drug use related to any kind of reward. So you can imagine why a Minecraft mod known as Psychedelicraft was slapped with the ol’ RC rating back in 2019.

Beyond being a game whose primary audience is impressionable children, Psychedelicraft was basically all red flags. It added a treasure trove of narcotics to the game including magic mushrooms, cocaine and peyote — and players were able to collect and brew these drugs for profit or pleasure.

It’s little wonder why this mod was banned.


DayZ was available digitally in Australia for years — literally several years — but the national censors slapped an RC rating on the game’s physical release in 2019.

What was bizarre in this instance was that DayZ has already been rated before, with the game’s digital release having received multiple MA15+ ratings through the automated IARC process. So you could still buy DayZ in Australia, you just couldn’t buy the physical copy — because for whatever reason, the Classification Board decided the content in that warranted an RC rating, stopping it from appearing on store shelves.

It was all a bit weird.

Katana Zero

Like Mother Russia Bleeds, the neo-noir action-adventure Katana Zero was initially banned through the automated IARC process before it was ever reviewed by humans. The game was already available in Australia digitally, but before it could be sold on the Nintendo eShop, publishers Devolver Digital had to submit it for classification.

The IARC process handed Katana Zero an RC rating, meaning Australians could download the game on Steam, but not on the Switch. Devolver appealed the ruling, however, and the Classification Review Board found in their favour, giving Katana Zero an R18+ rating in May.

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Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude

While you can buy Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude on Steam now, the game was officially banned from sale back in 2004, well before digital distribution was a factor.

The reason given at the time was Games 1(d), which is defined as “computer games that ‘are unsuitable for a minor to see or play'”. That clause is no longer a part of the National Classification Code, but reports at the time showed that the OFLC took exception with the sexual FMV sequences and the “obscured and/or implied sexual activity”.

“Sucking sounds are heard,” the board’s report noted.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

games banned australia gta

With the rise of downloadable content and online-only releases, the Classification Board has increasingly noted in its reports that publishers can have their classification revoked if content is released that goes beyond the scope of what was submitted in their original applications. And a primary factor in that can be traced back to San Andreas, which was rated MA15+ only to have its classification revoked over the Hot Coffee scandal.

The Hot Coffee scene did not feature in the game’s release, but modders discovered the cut mini-game in GTA‘s source code and released tools to make it playable on PC and consoles. The mod itself was fairly simple – the only change was a single bit in GTA‘s main script file – and its widespread release resulted in an immense mainstream backlash against GTA, Rockstar and the games industry as a whole.

Even though Rockstar argued that the mod violated the game’s EULA, it didn’t stop the game’s classification rating from being pulled in 2005, which forced retailers to pull copies off store shelves. A mandatory recall was issued in 2005, and Take-Two ended up agreeing to a $US20 million settlement in 2009, $US4.915 million of which Take-Two paid themselves.

Rockstar later resubmitted an edited version of the game worldwide in September 2015, which was rated MA15+.

Fallout 3

games banned australia classification

The ban of Fallout 3 helped put a major spotlight under Australian’s ratings system. Not only because it was a strike against one of the most anticipated games of its generation, but also because of the inconsistent application of rules.

At the time, the Board said that Fallout 3 contained “a variety of ‘chems’ that players could take’ offering both positive and negative effects. “Corresponding with the list of various “chems” are small visual representation of the drugs, these include syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs,” the board noted.

In a follow-up interview, the Board outlined its reasoning to Kotaku Australia:

In regard to the computer game Fallout 3, the Board is of the opinion that the use of morphine in the game has the positive effect of enabling the character to ignore limb pain. This ability to progress through the game more easily is the incentive to take the drug while the reward is in the character’s abilities.

The problem with this, as Logan noted, was that Call of Cthulu had a similar mechanic where the player could take morphine to reduce or ignore damage. So why was Fallout 3 so problematic? Half-Life also got an MA15+ rating, despite multiple morphine references. And Velvet Assassin would be rated MA15+ in 2009, despite also featuring morphine.

An edited version of the game was eventually re-released, with morphine being changed in-game to “Med-X”. At the time, Bethesda VP Pete Hines noted that complaints had been raised in other countries, even though Australia went a step further in banning the game.

The Fallout 3 ruling has been the most influential and memorable for gamers ever since, with developers more aware about the board’s views on drug use. More games have been banned as a result of violence or sexual content historically, but drug use has often been the reason cited for banning the biggest games, like Fallout, State of Decay and We Happy Few.

The Witcher 2

While Geralt’s second iconic adventure wasn’t banned in Australia, CD Projekt Red and Bandai Namco – called Namco Bandai back then – the game’s Australian release was modified to fit within the MA15+ rating.

The fear was that being offered sex as a reward would violate the scope of the MA15+ rating. What’s interesting is that The Witcher 2 still featured plenty of sex scenes, but the principle of getting offered sex as a reward was the major concern:

In the original version your character Geralt was given the choice of accepting sex ‘as a reward’ for successfully completing this particular side quest. The Australian Classification Board originally refused classification as they deemed the inclusion of ‘sex as a reward’ as not suitable for an MA15+ classification.

The change is only minor, in that the character choice is now made automatically for him. The character and the side quest are still in the game but presented in a slightly different context. No other changes have been made and this change has no impact on gameplay, storyline or character development. – Namco Bandai, May 3 2011

Dark Sector

Digital Extremes are best known these days for their work on Warframe, but back in 2008 they were busy promoting the release of Dark Sector. A third-person action game featuring black ops soldier Hayden Tenno, the Office of Film and Literature Classification – the precursor to today’s Classification Board – found the third-person action game featured too much violence to fit into Australia’s MA15+ rating at the time.

According to the board’s report, which IGN received at the time, the board noted that “decapitation, dismemberment of limbs accompanied by large blood spurts, neck breaking twists and exploding bodies” were “relatively easy to accomplish”.

Genital Jousting

Image: Genital Jousting / Steam

With everything else that’s been banned in Australia, it’s natural to think that a couch co-op game about dicks trying to penetrate other dicks might be a touch far for the Classification Board. But it was never initially banned: publishers Devolver Digital, still smarting from the board’s response to Hotline Miami 2 and other games, telling Kotaku Australia that they were “proactively saving ourselves time from a likely ban in those territories based on previous games banned for similar content”.

But in January 2018, the publisher had a change of heart and announced that Genital Jousting would be sold in Australia through Steam. It still hasn’t been officially classified here, which is a violation of the Classification Enforcement Act. Nintendo and Microsoft won’t allow the game to be sold on their platforms until its classified either, so chances are Steam will be the only place you’ll ever be able to buy Genital Jousting.

Mortal Kombat 9

Image: Supplied

Mortal Kombat 9 wasn’t the first game to earn a R18+ rating in Australia, but its ban helped propel the movement that ultimately saw the classification be introduced. Officially titled Mortal Kombat, the franchise had gone quiet for a while. MK vs DC Universe featured some of the iconic fighters, but it was a teen-rated title, lacking much of the gore and visceral combat that Mortal Kombat was famous for.

MK9 was brutal as all hell. So back in 2011, when Australia had an MA15+ rating at best, it’s not hard to imagine why this was a bit of a problem. (Note the fatalities below are from the Komplete Edition of the game.)

Isn’t Kratos’s babality fatality the most adorable thing?

Erin Piepergerdes, the associate producer for Mortal Kombat at the time, told Kotaku Australia that they knew it would be difficult getting the game released here. “We knew it might happen, but the reality is that we can’t really remove features from the game without giving people a game that we feel is not complete,” Piepergerdes said at the time.

The R18+ rating was introduced in January 2013, and a month later Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition was reclassified and allowed to be sold in Australia. After the rating was announced, Gametraders cheekily got a jump start by importing the game and selling that version on store shelves.

Mother Russia Bleeds

Produced by French studio Le Cartel, Mother Russia Bleeds first launched in 2016 without much fanfare from censors. It wasn’t until the game was submitted for a Switch release in 2018, however, that things became complicated.

Rather than submitting an application to the Classification Board directly, Devlover Digital – Mother Russia Bleeds‘ publisher – filed an application through the automated International Automated Ratings Coalition (IARC) tool. Australia began trialling the IARC tool in 2014, before officially adopting the system a few years later to help reduce costs for publishers releasing digital only products.

The tool effectively allows a developer or publisher to obtain a classification rating for every country that has signed up to the IARC, rather than submitting and paying for multiple applications. Decisions through the IARC process have the same weight as a rating from the Classification Board, so when Devolver received a Refused Classification rating through the automated tool, it meant that Mother Russia Bleeds was officially banned from sale.

The IARC process doesn’t produce a report like the Classification Board, so there’s no specific scenes or reasoning quoted as for the ban. The game’s content, however, makes it easy to guess where the problem lies. In Mother Russia Bleeds, players use syringes to inject drugs – and blood – from the corpses of NPC characters to power up.

As enemies are killed in Mother Russia Bleeds, their bodies begin to spasm. The player can then take a syringe to extract a drug called Nekro from the corpses of those bodies, which can be injected into the player character to either go berserk or regain health.

Omega Labyrinth Z

Banned in early 2018, the the Classification Board struck down the Japanese dungeon crawler after finding that it contained “gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions” of characters under the age of 18.

The depiction of one character in particular, Urara Rurikawa, was the key point of contention. In their report, the board wrote that Urara was “depicted as child-like in comparison” with other female characters, in personality, mannerisms and appearance. Labyrinth Z allowing the player to then remove Urara’s clothing, as well as inducing implied orgasms of all the characters – including Urara – was a step too far.

In some gameplay modes, including the “awakening” mode, the player is able to touch the breasts, buttocks, mouths and genital regions of each character, including Urara Rurikawa, while they are in sexualised poses, receiving positive verbal feedback for interactions which are implied to be pleasurable for the characters and negative verbal feedback, including lines of dialogue such as “I-It doesn’t feel good…” and “Hyah? Don’t touch there!,” for interactions which are implied to be unpleasurable, implying a potential lack of consent.

The aim of these sections is, implicity, to sexually arouse these characters to the point that a “shame break” is activated, in which some of the characters clothing is removed – with genital regions obscured by light and various objects – and the background changes colour as they implicitly orgasm.

In one “awakening” mode scenario, thee player interacts with Urara Rurikawa, who is depicted lying down, clutching a teddy bear, with lines of dialogue such as “I’m turning sleepy…”, “I’m so sleepy now…” and “I might wake up…” implying that she is drifting in and out of sleep.

The player interacts with this child-like character in the same manner as they interact with adult characters, clicking her breasts, buttocks, mouth and genital regions until the “shame break” mode is activated. During this section of the game, with mis-clicks, dialogue can be triggered, in which Urara Rurikawa says, “Stop tickling…”, “Stop poking…” and “Th-that feels strange…”, implying a lack of consent.

We Happy Few

One of the easiest ways to get a refused classification rating in Australia is the use of drugs, particularly any drug that can be tied to an incentive or a mechanic necessary to complete a game. That’s what We Happy Few fell afoul of the first time around, with the Classification Board taking a dim view of the use of Joy in-game – even though the developers would later successfully argue that the drug’s existence formed part of a dystopian universe that the player was encouraged not to use.

A report from the board, which was made available to Kotaku Australia in May 2018, outlined two particular scenes that the Board took issue with:

In one sequence, an NPC is viewed on the ground, convulsing owing to a reaction from taking a Joy pill, which has subsequently turned bad. After several NPCs encourage her to take Joy and she refuses, fearing that it will have an adverse effect, they beat her with steel pots and a shovel, until she is implicitly killed.

In another sequence, the player is seen in first-person view, entering a telephone box that contains three large pill dispensers, each holding a different flavoured Joy pill. The player consumes a Joy pill and a swarm of brightly-coloured butterflies appear as well as rainbows and coloured pathways on the ground, improving speed and visibility for the player.

Compulsion Games, We Happy Few‘s developer, later admitted that the board made the best decision possible given the guidelines and the information that was submitted in the original application. They, with support from publisher Gearbox, then challenged the RC rating in one of the few reviews for a video game classification in the PS4/Xbox One era.

The Classification Review Panel found that the use of Joy was “not presented as an incentive” or a reward. With the support of 87 public submissions, representations from Microsoft and additional material from the developers, We Happy Few was re-rated R18+ and released for sale in Australia on August 10.

State of Decay

Image: Supplied

The second game to be banned in Australia since the introduction of the R18+ rating, State of Decay fell afoul of censors over the use of illicit drugs. The board’s report, which Mark published back in 2013, found that State of Decay incentivised drug use.

It wasn’t helped by the fact that the developers told the Classification Board “it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication” – a reasonable approach for a video game to take, but not an argument held in high regard by the censors. The game was later resubmitted, with developers Undead Labs replacing stimulants with “supplements”. “Who could possibly not like vitamins? They’re good for you. Anyway, we’re feeling pretty optimistic about our chances,” the devs said on Facebook.

State of Decay received an R18+ rating, and began selling digitally to Australians a few weeks after its launch on June 5, 2013.


Image: Manhunt

Manhunt wasn’t originally banned in Australia, but it was brought before the Office of Film and Literature Classification a second time after Western Australia’s opposition party (led by Colin Barnett, who served as WA’s premier for almost a decade until the most recent election) appealed the ruling.

“When I watched this game, I was absolutely horrified. It is not a video game that I would want any children to be exposed to,” Barnett told Fairfax Media at the time. With New Zealand having already banned Manhunt, and the game wrongly implicated in the murder of a 14-year-old in the United Kingdom, Australia’s then Attorney General directed the OFLC to review the original MA15+ rating.

After being on sale for almost a year, the OFLC pulled Manhunt’s rating and refused classification.


Image: Youtube (u/

DreamWeb was first released in 1992, but the cyberpunk DOS adventure wouldn’t make it into Australia for another four years. The reason being? The DOS cyberpunk was banned for sexualised violence. It was the player’s first assassination target: they bust into a room, only to find their target having sex with an unknown woman.

Developers Creative Reality later put together a modified CD version where the couple are wearing clothes. That was enough for the OFLC (as they were known back in the day) to give DreamWeb an M rating. Creative Reality and Neil Dodwell later released the cyberpunk adventure as freeware through ScummVM, and you can pick it up if you’re curious below.


Image: Sierra

Not that it needed replaying, but if you missed out Phantasmagoria back in the day it’s easy enough to pick up now. It’s popped up on a couple of Sierra Humble Bundles and it’s available on Steam as part of a classics package to boot.

But when the FMV adventure first launched in Australia, the OFLC wasn’t having a bar of it. In a unanimous decision, the board found the Sierra game violated the then-guidelines for scenes of simulated sex and one scene of implied sexual violence in the fourth chapter. Here’s the description from the OFLC at the time, as saved by the Refused Classification website:

WARNING: Scenes of implied sexual violence follows.

In chapter four, a bathroom scene shows the woman in a negligee at a mirror combing her hair. The husband walks up behind her, strokes her hair, and runs his hand over her clothed breast. Angry from a prior scene argument, she brushes his hand away. He continues his advances until they both willingly embrace and kiss. This is shown with soft background music.

The husband lifts her under her armpits, carries her to the bathroom wall, continues kissing her and the camera closes in on his hand lifting her clothes. At this point, the music changes tempo and tone, becoming darker and thumping. The man’s face is shown with an evil expression, eyes glaring wide as he holds the woman’s hands up above her head on the wall behind her. He is shown to begin a vigorous thrusting motion, simulating intercourse. The woman’s face is seen in close up, crying and scared, shaking her head from side to side during what, at that point, begins to look like a sexual attack.

While the narrative structure has by this stage clearly indicated that evil forces are influencing the husband’s actions and, that the game play is such that the player’s role as the wife is to prevent this from happening to herself and her husband, the above guidelines do not contain anything that allows contextual justification considerations by the Board.

Possessed or not, implied rape – which is what it is, let’s not kid ourselves – will never be OK with the censors. Even in 2017.

Paranautical Activity

Image: Paranautical Activity

Haven’t heard of Paranautical Activity before? There’s a good reason for that. It’s not only banned from sale in Australia, but banned from Steam entirely. Mike Maulbeck, the game’s creator, flipped his lid when Steam incorrectly listed Paranautical Activity as being an early access game upon its release.

Maulbeck went on a tirade on Twitter, saying that “Steam is the most incompetence piece of fucking shit” and that he was “going to kill Gabe Newell”. Valve acted as you’d expect – they removed the game from sale, immediately demonstrating the platform’s uselessness – and Maulbeck was immediately forced to apologise. Not long after, he resigned from Code Avarice and sold his stake in the studio so they could continue on.

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Digerati Distribution later picked up the rights to Paranautical Activity, and the game was re-released in a Deluxe Atonement Edition a couple of years later. The Board slapped an RC on it, however, because of an in-game item that violated the Board’s stance on incentivising drug use.

“The reason they gave was ‘illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives and rewards’ – the prescribed drug in game is Adderall and picking up the item gives you a 15% speed increase,” Digerati’s Nick Alferi told me last year. A version of the game was resubmitted without Adderall, however, and on January 16 the game received an M rating.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Image: Supplied

Every F.E.A.R game in Australia had received an MA15+ rating, but for whatever reason that didn’t apply the day F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin was being rated. The game was refused classification the first time around, stunning everyone (considering the previous F.E.A.R games had been fine) and sparking an immediate appeal from publisher Warner Bros.

“The Australian Classification Review Board hearing allowed us to provide a written/verbal submission,” Mark Aubrey, WB’s Australian marketing manager at the time, told Kotaku Australia. “We also did gameplay demonstrations and provided much more comprehensive footage of the game. This allowed us to go into the context and storyline in a lot more detail … they asked a lot of relevant questions and gave us every opportunity to present the game in as much detail as possible which was greatly appreciated.”

After the review, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin went on sale with an MA15+ rating.

MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death

Image: Supplied

Another game banned after the introduction of the R18+ rating, MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death was banned quicksmart by the Classification Board for falling under the guidelines of “simulation of sexual stimulation of a child”. The “child” in question is one of the game’s five main characters, and coupled with the Vita’s ability that let players use the touchscreen to “make any female character’s breasts move in response” was way too far for their liking.

Here’s the board’s justification:

In the Board’s opinion, the character of Connie depicts a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18. The game features use of the Playstation Vita’s touchscreen feature, that allows the player to touch or run their finger across the touchscreen in order to make any female character’s breasts move in response. The chest area of Connie is viewed moving slightly when this occurs, which is significantly different from the greater movement viewed when one of the four adult-like female characters is touched.

Within the character menu, the player can also touch the head, hips and legs of a character and a voice clip plays in reaction. When the player touches Connie in this mode it prompts verbal responses from her – either, “So flat. Super-flat.”, “Smooth”, “Just a little squishy” or two variations of a perturbed “Woah” sound. The application accompanying the game states there is a reaction to either the breasts, head, hips or legs of a character being touched. The touch response to each is indeterminate, as the gameplay footage does not indicate which area of the body is being touched when a response is heard.

The interactivity of the game was also cited by the board, with the classification guidelines specifically noting that interactive movements should have higher impact on viewers than “similarly themed depictions of the classifiable elements in film”.


Image: EA

Remember when people were excited for a FPS remake of the Bullfrog classic? I remember those days. What you might not remember was that fact that Starbreeze’s reboot of Syndicate was refused classification, and remains banned in Australia to this day.

According to the Classification Board, Syndicate‘s problem was how visceral and intense some of the violence was. “A player moves through a building rapidly firing at enemy combatants,” the report read. “Combatants take locational damage and can be explicitly dismembered, decapitated or bisected by the force of the gunfire.”

Given that locational damage had been a thing since Kingpin, the banning of Syndicate was yet another reason why Australia needed an R18+ rating for games – even though it should have been rated MA15+ off the bat, given it was no more visceral, and certainly no more affecting, other shooters at the time.

EA never resubmitted Syndicate for release again. The Board’s stance would have resulted in too many scenes and too many pieces of the game to be amended. Syndicate is available digitally, although you’ll need a VPN to purchase it through Origin.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Image: Supplied

Anus flamethrowers are OK, but anal probes with grey dildos are definitely not. That was the view censors took of The Stick of Truth, with the game only permitted for sale after the developers submitted an altered version that removed five anal probing scenes.

Australians also didn’t get two scenes where the player undergoes an abortion, and in turn performs an abortion on Randy Marsh. The scenes are more light-hearted than they are gratuitous or offensive, although you can imagine someone on the Classification Board taking a dim view of a cartoon character squeezing their sphincter to avoid getting rammed by an alien dildo.

Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure

An illustration of everything that was wrong with the system was Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. The game was given an MA15+ rating in 2005, but federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock and the Local Government Association of Queensland appealed the decision to the board on the grounds that it glorified graffiti.

According to a report at the time from the Sydney Morning Herald, Contents Under Pressure was ultimately banned after Classification Board convenor Maureen Shelley used her vote to break a deadlock between the reviewing members.

It was the first time the board had refused classification for a game “because it promotes crime”, which is absurd when you consider the amount of crime depicted in games, film, TV, books, and every entertainment medium that has ever existed.


Image: Youtube (u/Lazy Game Reviews)

Typical of much of the FMV garbage that was pushed out in early years of the CD-ROM era, Voyeur was an “interactive movie” originally launched for the Phillips CD-i and DOS and Mac systems later. It basically leveraged the idea Night Trap started with surveillance, with the player viewing the game through a series of cameras.

The idea is to gather enough evidence to destroy a potential presidential candidate’s career. The game was originally rated MA15+ in Australia, but upon review the game was banned over a scene where the protagonist’s daughter accuses him of molesting her as a child.

The Board hadn’t developed much of a track record in banning games at the time, but once this was pointed out to them there was no way Voyeur was getting sold in Australia. Classification was refused in early 1995, and not much of the game has been seen ever since.

Hotline Miami 2

Much like Outlast 2, Hotline Miami 2‘s depiction of a rape scene during on a film set was a step too far for the Classification Board. The move was a little less surprising in that HM2‘s controversial scene was shown off in previews for the game, which led to the developers cutting the scene from the game’s demo.

Here’s the justification the board used for refusing HM2 classification:

After stomping on the head of a fifth male character, he strikes a female character wearing red underwear. She is knocked to the floor and is viewed lying face down in a pool of copious blood. The male character is viewed with his pants halfway down, partially exposing his buttocks. He is viewed pinning the female down by the arms and lying on top of her thrusting, implicitly raping her (either rear entry or anally) while her legs are viewed kicking as she struggles beneath him. This visual depiction of implied sexual violence is emphasised by it being mid-screen, with a red backdrop pulsating and the remainder of the screen being surrounded by black.

The developers and publisher responded by saying the board had misrepresented the scene, which was optional, and told players just to “pirate it after release”. “No need to send us any money, just enjoy the game,” HM2 co-creator Jonatan Söderströmm told a gamer in an email that was shared online.

Hotline Miami 2 was submitted for classification twice in 2015; the board refused to classify it both times.


    • Not missed! I didn’t mean for this to be a list of every game Australia has banned, because people only have the capacity to read so much. And I figured HM2 was a bit too obvious. But I’ll add it now. Thanks!

      • Fair play.

        My apologises, I had no doubt you hadn’t thought of it. Your list is certainly comprehensive and also covers a number of more unique examples, Alex. 🙂

      • Obvious for sure, but the fact that the developer urged Australians to pirate the game was certainly a first 😉

      • It is also interesting because one of the reasons listed by the censorship board didn’t happen (there is no actual thrusting shown)

        • Just do a factory reset on your Vita, set it up with a US Playstation account, buy a PSN card from any online vendor, buy and download game 🙂

          I’ve got a Vita set up exclusively for PSN games that don’t make it to Australia. The only downside is not getting the trophies on my main account, but it’s better than nothing.

          • Sounds like a plan. Thanks.

            I assume that if I restore my AU account all my old Vita game purchases will still be remembered?

          • Correct. You’ll just have to download them again if you don’t have them on a separate memory card. You can only have a single account per memory card unless you use HENkaku to jailbreak your Vita. Easier in my opinion just to buy a cheap 8GB card.

    • Picked up Hotline 2 recently in the Indy bundle on Humble Bundle. Figured that the bundle would probably arrive without it (nope – the key was there), or that Steam would refuse to let me register the key in Australia (again, nope, no reluctance or warning), or that even if it did let me register it, it would not allow me to download it (wrong again). Then I thought maybe I would not be able to run it – again, no – there was no restriction. Seems that the gateway is the ability to purchase it – once you have it, it’s yours to use as you wish – which is the way it should be, IMO.

  • Saints Row IV is at the top of my shame list, was forced to be censored for the whole drug thing… the stupid part is the drugs in SRIV are alien, and you take them in a matrix-style simulator that let you leap over buildings and other such magical abilities. The context is clearly fictional, yet they were forced to censor the game making it impossible to play online with the rest of the world.

    It wasn’t censored because of the famous probe weapon, they changed that so that weapon was a Season Pass exclusive, that wasn’t included in Australia’s Season Pass. Not that probe weapons were an issue in the M-rated Destroy All Humans games. Again, context is right there with aliens and probes as stigma going back 60 or so years.

    • Out of curiosity, was Saints Row 2 banned or censored? Since that didn’t have the excuse of the VR Drugs, it was just you and Shandi getting high as kites on the bulbs that SR4 is referring back to.

      • Was originally refused classification but they removed the mission (it was about 3 minutes of game time all up) and they resubmitted it and it got the all ok.

  • I remember Voyeur. I played that when I was younger *twitch* didn’t effect me at all (no really I played it but found it really boring)

    I also remember Importing the PC version of ‘Punisher’ (cause it was banned in Australia @ the time) I remember one scene you could us a workbench to cut off a henchman’s arms to torture him to give information

    • I loved The Punisher, felt like a great homage to the comics. The Australian release had some of the more grizzly interrogation scenes displayed in black & white (much like the movie Kill Bill vol1). Pretty sure all the scenes were still in the game, just lost their colour.

    • I actually picked up a copy of Voyeur when it was originally banned. I knew one of the owners of the Gamesmen (Angelo, the one who was shot and killed when they got robbed – R.I.P.) and he was showing me a couple of games they had to take off the shelves and let me buy a copy. It was a shit game though, and I only played it twice.

  • i find it funny that they banned Syndicates remake, yet soldier of fortune 1 and 2 and possibly 3 all had localised dismemberment with spurting and bones and disembowelment and i bought a retail version from shop too.

    • Soldier of Fortune: Payback [3] was censored here too, with all dismemberment removed and online play with the rest of the world impossible. Not that the game was any good. #2 was the best IMO, also sported Mark Hamill in the voice cast.

      • yeah i never played 3, but 2 was one of my favourite games. i used to play single player over and over. still remember the various dismemberment with the shotgun, ahhh, the blood, the bone and the beautiful.

  • I have Syndicate in my Origin library, but can’t find it in the store obviously. I think I got it during an Origin Humble Bundle. Pretty sure I either own or have played most of these banned games.

    • Do you have the original 1993 version or the 2012 version of Syndicate? They are both different games. If you have your location as Australia on Humblebundle then you usually don’t get games that are banned here, they will show as “This item is not available in your region”. I am pretty sure that “Bully” was in a relatively recent bundle and wasn’t available in Australia.

  • It’s for greater minds than mine to explore, but I’d like to see more ink spilt on the subject of ‘gaming’ Australia’s laws and especially this classification process by developers/publishers.

    You can’t tell me some games have purposefully aimed for the type of publicity and maximised sales that the heading ‘THE GAME AUSTRALIA DOESN’T WANT YOU TO PLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY’ can bring to their makers. We are a small market, and some would see as as ‘not that big a deal’ in comparison to other, larger countries.

    We collectively can be a ploy/a PR stunt for some unscrupulous types. It’s plain to see, it doesn’t happen often when it does it’s pretty galling.

    Yes I’m a cynic.

    • It might have worked once, but now, since everyone the world over fully expects any mildly risque game to be refused classification in Australia, I doubt anyone would fall for it.

  • You missed one of the biggest ones: The 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot. This was refused classification before we had the R18+ rating and was never let through despite appeals being lodged by Warner Bros. In fact, it was not properly available here until we got the R18+ rating.

    This was a big one because it was one of the most high profile (and well reviewed) games to be banned, and alongside Left 4 Dead 2 (which was released here but only after modifications were made) that really kicked the R18+ train into high gear.

    • Totally forgot about MK you’re right, I remember importing it when that news came. And enjoying the hell out of it, bloody good time!

    • My favourite was the Alien vs. Predator reboot – it got banned, Sega appealed (and I’m assuming said something like ‘look, just be cool, aight?’), and the board (I’m guessing) said something along the lines of ‘Oh, we’re still cool Sega, look, we unbanned it!

      • it was much more than that actually. there was massive campaign to get the ban overturned to the point that we also pointed out how the Original Predator Movie was rated R+18 and was way more violent than the game, yet had since been downgraded to MA+15

        • It was worth waiting 18 months to have this discussion.

          It’s a shame the game was such a garbage fire, I have a fierce love of old-school multiplayer AVP2, but the reboot was trash.

          • ahh it wasnt that bad, my only problem with it was that it was too short, though i know some folks didnt like the MP because of the rock/paper/scissors melee combat

  • I can remember in 1996 that Duke Nukem 3D had “adult mode” disabled in AU/NZ. Trivial to disable but hilarious for the time – they had a big objection to pixelated titties and blood!

  • anyone else remember thrill kill on PS1, i think that got banned here, but my mate had a burnt version which i procured. very messed up game, check out youtube for an idea if youve never heard of it.

    • Technically it never came out anywhere, it was reworked into Wu-Tang Shaolin, but not before it was leaked into various pirating channels. I too remember a friend who had a copy

      • wow, interesting, i never knew that. was a fun game to play none the less, i cant believe my mum let me play it at 13. the perks of a single mum parenting an only child i guess. (would be about the only perk, but you know.)

        • Unbelievable how many of my kids tell me about the games their parents let them play at under 13 years old. Properly violent, but it’s only a computer game.
          But boobs? Evil!

    • I had a burnt version of that and thought it was awesome… I think I still have it actually. I should see if I can get it working in an emulator 🙂

  • Meh who cares about the ACB anymore? I have literally downloaded pr imported all of these and more. Got Hotline Miami 2 on the Canadian PSN store. Will do the same with Outlast 2 as I have been doing since 2000.

    Also. What the fuck is this countries obsession with banning anything with drugs? Seriously its laughable. Who came up with that? Oh yeah, have all the blood and gore you want but adults can’t handle digital Morphine LOL! Great logic you anally retentive bureaucrats!

    • The stupidest part about the drug thing is that generally speaking, the drugs can’t be called the same names as real world drugs. Change the name to something fictional and you’re fine. I think Fallout 3 did exactly this, just changed the name of a drug and it was passed.

      • For Fallout 3, they changed the name of the drug and removed the animation of the player injecting themselves. It isn’t obvious that simply changing the name would have been enough to get past the censors.

        • In fact, as we’ve just seen with We Happy Few, even a fictitious drug called ‘Joy’ is enough to get the game banned because ‘it makes the game easier’ and therefore acts as an incentive.

          • And yet there are hundreds (thousands?) of movies with drug use in them. But of course, games are “interactive” so much worse. Apparently we all have no concept of the difference between fiction and reality.

          • Yeah this is the whole problem I have with the current rating system. This concept that games will make you do stuff because they influence your childs mind. Well hell isn’t the idea behind age restrictions meant to stop easily-influenced kids from playing stuff with drug use or violence? At least until they’re old enough to process it properly.

            But hey, lets just take away things like parental responsibility and education and just ban games cos it’s easier and we think everyone are idiots.

  • Only one that I remember never getting through with appeal that I bothered to *cough* acquire *cough* was Dark Sector, which got banned because of excessive violence, specifically citing the looks of terror on the faces of soldiers as you murdered them with a glaive. I wonder if that’s why there aren’t any human enemies in Warframe…

    • I loved Dark Sector back in the day, never understood how it was any worse than the chainsaw bayonet in Gears of War, or the many executions on crawling enemies.

      • I believe it is usually paraphrased as “something something violence against humans something something.” Apparently almost any degree of interactive violence against sentient beings is fine, so long as said beings’ species is fictional.

        …Although if the Locust turn out to be real, we have bigger problems than five-or-so games getting pulled from sale in Australia.

        • That holds true in single player, but multi-player would have you side against humans just fine, could still stick a chainsaw in their back as they crawled away from you, or decapitate them with the torque bowstring…

  • Ah State of Decay.
    I ended up buying it through a US account.

    To be honest it wasn’t that big a deal in the long run, but such is the process.

    • Yeah odd that wasn’t mentioned. It caused such an uproar at the time. Myself and 3 friends, who frequently played the first one together, were quite pissed off at the ban/edit. We ended up paying one of our old WoW friends in the US to gift us copies.

    • Yeah.. That’s weird. I remember buying a copy from Play Asia just so it was uncensored lol. I guess Valve did get that R18+ for it not long after such a rating was possible & then released the version the rest of the world got.

    • Left 4 Dead 2 was released in Australia, albeit in modified form. The full version was released on Steam locally after the R18+ classification was introduced.

      If you were to include games that had been released in modified form, the list would be a _lot_ longer.

      • Well they didn’t care about that when listing State of Decay, FEAR 2, Paranautical Activity or South Park – all games described as banned but eventually allowed (even if modification was needed) and that’s the same thing Left 4 Dead went through.

        Also not mentioned but applies includes Fallout 3, GTA: San Andreas, and Mortal Kombat 9.

  • Valve acted as you’d expect – they removed the game from sale, immediately demonstrating the platform’s uselessness – and Maulbeck was immediately forced to apologise.

    What’s with that dig about uselessness, Alex? Valve did exactly what they should have, Maulbeck was in a professional relationship with another company and threatened a person with violence. He got dropped to the curb exactly as he should have been.

    • That was the joke; Maulbeck whinged about Valve being useless and discovered how wrong he was once the game was pulled from Steam

        • I had the same thought. Probably could’ve done with inverted commas around ‘uselessness’ to spell it out for me.

          Seems like an obvious joke in hind-sight, but given the regular criticism of Valve and Steam, it feels more like it strayed into Poe’s Law territory.

  • The Hotline Miami 2 ban still bothers me. The scene in question is entirely contextualised as actors on a movie set, and the literal call for “cut” happens so fast you don’t have time to think what is happening is “real”.

    Also the soundtrack kicks so much are that it’s criminal Australians aren’t even allowed to buy it on Steam. Le Perv = best.

    • Exactly this.
      They seriously need to have another look at fixing those guidelines….
      Having an R18+ rating was a good step, but the system is clearly still broken.
      As adults we’re more than capable of deciding for ourselves what is and what isn’t suitable for us.

    • And just to make it a little worse there is no thrusting depicted. Obviously the Board were just seeing what they wanted to see haha

  • who could forget carmageddon full US version, me and my bro got that as the shareware was too good to play around on

    • Interestingly, Carmageddon was never banned nor censored here, considering it was the poster child for violent video games. It was censored in the UK and Germany… UK had zombies with green blood and Germany had robots as pedestrians.

  • Surprised the postal series didn’t make it, the things you could do definitely entered the questionable zone on postal 2. Nothing like wearing a gimp suit throwing Molly’s into a mosque.

    • I’m pretty sure Postal 3 got banned here, but you could e-mail Vince Desi directly to purchase a Steam key that would allow you to get it.

  • We happy few : was it refused because of the ‘happy pill’ thing?
    Because that’s beyond stupid.the OFLC are regressive old twats

    • regressive old twats, many of whom are disguised as youthful or middle-aged people of all walks of life.

      I think rather that the fault lies in the ACB taking themselves too seriously and trying to apply the classification guidelines as strictly as possible, rather than using their discretion like they bloody well should!

  • The funny thing is that anyone who wants to play any banned game can just use their brain and download from the thousands of torrent sites or create a US PSN/XBL account. You just buy a digital card from places like or

    Reliable sites with great prices. Or use a VPN for Steam. You don’t need to import these days and worry about the nazi Customs service. I mean, did the politicians who passed these laws not realise how pointless “banning” things is in the digital age?

    I have literally play ALL of those banned games and heaps of others. I have Hotline Miami 2 on my PS4s HDD along with Manhunt/Saints Row IV. Its all such a joke. I’ll be doing the same with We Happy Few as well.

  • Understand that the morons who ban this stuff, or ‘refuse to classify’, have the outdated idea that kiddies play these games, and that it is their job to protect them. Wrong…it is their job to put in place controls that the state attorney generals should ensure that the parents apply. I’m tired of my hobby being impacted because some moronic parent refuses to control their snotty nosed brat’s behavior.

    • They put ratings on things, but kids these days have the easy ability to go on the web and watch the most horrific (and real) murders, rapes, sex, etc… oh but a game where you can take a drug or you watch an 8-bit sex scene is rully bad and we should stop it….

  • Amusingly enough, I picked up a copy of Phantasmagoria back in 98 at a second hand store on Pitt Street in Sydney. That amused me, due to the whole it being banned at the time thing. Alas, we got the severely severely watered down version of Phantasmagoria 2 released.

    On other forms of censorship, when I was a youngin’, probably 10 years old, I went to a party where they had a copy of Clockwork Orange, which was still very much banned at the time. I’d have to say it probably damaged my fragile little mind, until I left the room and watched some of the early episodes of Red Dwarf that had just come over from the UK.

    I lasted until Singing in the Rain… ever since then, the song has not been the same for me, which is sad since my Grandparents loved the musical.

  • It bugs me that reason and logic are left out of the conversation around banning games.
    “Think of the children!!!” Pretty much all banned games aren’t intended for kids, but we wouldn’t expect parents to supervise their children now, would we? No, it’s the consenting adults who must suffer.
    And banning a game for drug use? Show me any evidence at all that drug use in games contributes to use rates in the real world? Or that the inverse is true and not showing drug use in games prevents anyone taking drugs?
    This 1950s mentality of pearl clutching irrationality makes me sick. It has no correlation with reality.

  • seems most of these seem to be related to rape / sodomy. I mean i don’t want kids being exposed to that kinda shit but isn’t that what the R18+ classification is for?

    I mean anyone can turn on a television and watch a crime show or something similar so why are these getting games banned?

    And don’t try and pull the “interactive” argument either. all of these scenes so far have been cut scene / out of the players control and would be just like watching something play out on television.

  • Least we not forget BMXXX either. I brought a copy in NZ duty free on holiday and the boys use to love coming over and watching the strip club footage 😀 Had such an awesome soundtrack too!

  • IM very Suprised to see that you didnt throw up Saints Row 4 on this list Alex, as it being banned and having the ban upheld because of a made up alien computer drug giving a character who is known for getting high

  • What if there was a game with a history of beatings, drug abuse, corruption, wife beating, child hating, racism, corruption, and sex with minors? Do you reckon that would be banned?

    Oh wait. That’s football.

  • I’ve still got my legal copy of Manhunt on PS2. 🙂
    It’s an awesome game.

    So CLEARLY our guidelines for classifications are stupid. Isn’t the point of the R18+ classification so adults can make an informed choice. ADULTS!!! It’s about time we get in check with the rest of the world, because this is getting ridiculous.
    The drug and sex for rewards or whatever is the dumbest of the guidelines. Almost every other country in the world these pass review without problem. What the actual fuck is wrong with our country? I can dismember, and kill, and practically everything else, but I’m too sensitive to handle drug use in my games?

    R18+ RESTRICTED – Drug use/ sexual activity related to incentives and rewards.

    See how easy that is!
    The ironic thing is this is what’s on the ratings advice for SOUTH PARK THE FRACTURED BUT WHOLE. A game legally available in Australia.

    • I suspect Rockstar could resubmit Manhunt today and get it re-rated R18+. There’s not much incentive for them to do this unless they decide to release a remaster though.

      That wasn’t an option back when the game was released and subsequently banned though.

      • They won’t. A resubmitted Manhunt would not be received well in this day and age.
        The world is far too soft now. It would just be a target for all the pitchforks.
        I still remember the day we finally got the R18+ rating approved.
        I almost wish someone sent a copy of Mortal Kombat to Michael Atkinson with a note attached “we told you so”.
        Now if only the rest of the damn system would get into check.
        I hate that feeling of seeing gameplay from a new game and thinking “oh shit, is that gonna get banned here.”

        • I think it is fairly likely that Manhunt would get an R18+ is resubmitted today. Remember that it originally received an MA15+ rating, and was banned on review for containing high impact violence and themes (MA15+ only allowed “strong”).

          So we’re talking about something that was just outside the highest rating of the time, and R18+ allows for high impact violence and themes. So it doesn’t seem that controversial.

          I don’t see any evidence that Australia is banning games today that it would have accepted prior to the classification changes. I believe there are some games released today with an R18+ classification that might have previously received MA15+, but I think that has more to do with publishers not feeling a need to fight for that lower classification now.

  • @alexwalker: a small correction: IARC is not the “International Automated Ratings Coalition”. It is the “International Age Rating Coalition”.

    • if I remember correctly there was an edition of Witcher 1 that had some of the mature content removed and was later offered as an optional download

      so in theory they can do the same… or just offer it only on GoG with no local pricing

  • “Remember when people were excited for a FPS remake of the Bullfrog classic?”

    I remember everyone including myself being irrationally angry about the fact that someone had the gall to turn Syndicate into an FPS. I’m not sure why, really.

  • I don’t understand why “Fallout 3” can change Morphine to Med-X and get rated and released here. And then other games with made up drugs such as Nekro or Joy are banned.

    What was special about the modifications in “Fallout 3” compared to “Mother Russia Bleeds” and “We Happy Few”?

  • You missed:

    Virtua tennis
    Just dance (the censors thought that playing the game could lead to sex)
    Nancy Drew: Secrets can kill
    Candy Crush Saga (a modified version of the game had to be released, removing the drug references)

  • Hotline Miami 2 dumbfounds me. I played the game and that scene is artistic. Besides, people who play games have enough intelligence to distinguish gaming and reality.
    Meanwhile, while there are a bunch of morally superior board members censoring some games, you have drugs running in the society. How about we censor ads for cigarettes or alcohol??

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