Update: A report provided to IGN today, outlined the specific elements that saw Saints Row IV fail to pass the classification system.
“The game includes a weapon referred to by the Applicant as an “Alien Anal Probe”. The Applicant states that this weapon can be “shoved into enemy’s backsides”. The lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon. When using this weapon the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air. After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixellated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim’s anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians.
In the Board’s opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification.”
The report also provided detail on the drug related content.
“The game contains an optional mission which involves the player obtaining and smoking drugs referred to as “alien narcotics”. Smoking the “alien narcotics” equips the player with “superpowers” which increase their in-game abilities allowing them to progress through the mission more easily.
In the Board’s opinion, there is insufficient delineation between the “alien narcotic” available in the game and real-world proscribed drugs. The Board notes that the label “narcotics” is commonly used assigned to describe a class of real-world drugs that include such proscribed substances as cocaine and heroin.”
You can read the rest of the report over at IGN, while no further information is available about the submission of Saints Row IV.
Update: Deep Silver has provided Joystiq with an official statement on Saints Row IV being refused classification in Australia.
“Deep Silver can confirm that Saints Row IV was denied an age classification in Australia. Volition, the developer, are reworking some of the code to create a version of the game for this territory by removing the content which could cause offence without reducing the outlandish gameplay that Saints Row fans know and love. Saints Row IV has been awarded PEGI 18 and ESRB M ratings where fans can enjoy their time in Steelport as originally intended.”
Original Story: Saints Row IV has been refused classification in Australia. Acting Director of the Classification Board Donald McDonald announced the decision today, noting it was the first game in Australia to be banned under the new Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games that commenced on January 1, 2013.
The Classification Board has classified the game RC (Refused Classification) meaning the game cannot be displayed or sold in Australia. Retailers in Australia such as EB Games have a pre-order option for Saints Row IV, but with the RC rating it means they will have to be removed.
The boards decision of Saints Row IV includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context. The Board also says the game includes elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. Such depictions are prohibited under the guidelines.
“Apart from today’s decision, since the beginning of the year, the Board has classified 17 games R18+ under the new guidelines,” stated McDonald
Saints Row IV is the first game to apparently exceed what is permissible under the R18+ rating.
The R18+ rating for video games in Australia finally came into effect on January 1, 2013. Prior to this, Australia did not have an adults-only category for video games.
Deep Silver can appeal the decision; until then we await the publisher’s response.
Saints Row IV is set to be released August 23, 2013 in other countries.