Australia’s Classification Board did not stop after banning Saints Row IV from the country. They announced hours later that they have also refused classification for the Microsoft-published open-world zombie game, State of Decay.
The specific concern from the Classification Board is the use of drugs and substances. The game has various medications and stimulants used to restore health or boost stamina. While games with drugs have been allowed in Australia before, the Board has taken into account that “it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication”.
The addition of an R18+ rating was intended to prevent many games from being banned in Australia for not meeting the M15 requirements. However, after six months In effect, these two recent barrings do not inspire confidence in the rating system.
Undead Labs president Jeff Strain broke the news on the company’s official forums:
"We're working with Microsoft to come up with options, including changing names of certain medications in the game to comply with ratings requirements. Whatever our path forward, it's going to take a bit. I know this is frustrating — believe me, we're frustrated too — but each country has the right set its own rules about content, and it's our responsibility to comply with them. Rest assured we'll do everything we can to find a way to get the game into your hands. Stay tuned."
Below is the full statement from the Board:
The game contains the option of self-administering a variety of “medications” throughout gameplay which act to restore a player’s health or boost their stamina. These “medications” include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, codeine, aspirin, “trucker pills”, painkillers and tussin. Of these, methadone, morphine, and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term “stimulant” is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed. Players obtain drugs by scavenging for them in the environment or by manufacturing them in a “Medical Lab”. When players find drugs in the environment the name of the drug appears onscreen and the drug is also represented by a visual icon such as a pill bottle or syringe. Within the “Medical Lab” players are prompted to make substances such as “Potent Stims”, “Mild Stims” and “Painkillers”. The laboratory includes a “research library” and “chemical dictionary”. When administering drugs, the player is briefly depicted moving a pill bottle toward their mouth. The sound of pills rattling in the bottle accompanies the depiction. The name of the drug appears onscreen along with its representative icon. Consumption of the drug instantly increases a player’s in-game abilities allowing them to progress through gameplay more easily. The Applicant has stated that a “player can choose not to make any drugs or scavenge for them, but it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication”. In the Board’s opinion, the game enables the player’s character to self-administer proscribed drugs which aid in gameplay progression. This game therefore contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and should be Refused Classification.