You Can’t Play Lake On Xbox In Australia Because Of Drugs

You Can’t Play Lake On Xbox In Australia Because Of Drugs
Image: Gamious

The cute “return home to your village to be a postie” simulator Lake was a nice surprise when it was shown at E3 this year. Unfortunately, you can’t play the game on Xbox right now.

The charming ’80s adventure launched on Steam and Xbox last week, but for Australians it’s only available on Steam. And if you’ve read Kotaku Australia or followed anything about video games in this country for a long while, chances are you’ve already guessed why Gamious’s cute adventure isn’t on console.

That’s right: it’s another refused classification. The game received an automated refused classification rating after the developers submitted their application through the IARC system, meaning the game technically shouldn’t be available for purchase or play digitally or at retail anywhere in the country.

Image: Classification Board

The developers confirmed this directly via Twitter when pressed, and while they were still investigating, they added that the most likely cause for the rating was a couple of scenes with “very short and mild references to soft drugs”. (It’s a game set in 1986, so I’m just going to guess here: weed.)

Fortunately for Aussies, Steam has worked out that they can just continue to sell games that are refused classification to Australians with no repercussions, as evidenced by their complete refusal to do anything about Disco Elysium: A Final Cut‘s initial ban. So if you want to give Lake a go, or try the demo, the Steam page is still accessible for local accounts.

And because people always tend to forget, it’s worth reiterating that the Classification Board themselves — along with literally every other stakeholder and person with a solitary interest in video games and legislation — has called for the classification guidelines to be overhauled. (The board themselves have been calling for an overhaul for years, in fact.) Those recommendations were filed as part of a report that has been sitting with the Communications Minister.

Since the middle of last year.


  • I continue to be consistently bewildered that LiS:BtS got an MA 15+ for ‘Strong drug use and drug references’ and yet others get RC. Given BtS has you play an teenage student buying and smoking weed for additional story content… have to wonder how much worse Lake would be.

    • The answer here is LiS:BtS has a major publisher which can afford to have a physical release, and go through a manual submission so that the game is rated correctly.

      Lake is a small indie title, and while promoted by Xbox, they’re not acting as its publisher per se. So the few grand it’ll cost to have a review done just for Australia would, I suspect, be a massive chunk of their marketing budget.

      This is why IARC was setup, to stop smaller publishers and distributors from eating these kinds of fees en masse from having to submit in all the different countries around the world. But when countries’ guidelines aren’t updated for modern times, this is what happens.

      • That makes sense.

        Of course, if the poster below is accurate regarding the content, then thats a completely different situation than Chloe.

  • I’ll take a wild swing here and speculate the ban isn’t related to the use of drugs per se, but the fact that you’re “distributing” them as opposed to “personal use only”. (Goes to watch Narcos on Netflix)

    • yep that plus its the IARC which does not have the ability to accurately judge a game. i mean its pretty obvious that if this game went through the board, it would have been fine

  • Sooo.. basically another victim of our nerfed and completely out of date classification for video games.

    I mean really we celebrated when “violence” was finally given to us we forgot that was just one small facet of what is considered “adult” material thats allowed in other media.

  • And yet alcohol, one of the most damaging drugs on the planet, which causes untold amounts of suffering including death/manslaughter, is completely legal and distributed from multiple stores in every area. Typical stupid and pathetic hypocrisy.

  • Sounds like the automated system could use a few more check boxes. Either that or any game wanting to be rated here doesn’t bother mentioning drugs at all, which would make their life easier. I doubt we’ll be seeing any changes to the requirements any time soon with how keenly the government is sitting on their hands and using COVID as an excuse for all delays.

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