On February 25, the Australian Classification Board effectively banned Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment's upcoming fighter Mortal Kombat, slapping an RC (Refused Classification) rating on the title and thus banning it from sale and distribution in Australia. Publisher Warner Bros. quickly launched an appeal, however, but it seems that the effort was to no avail.
Warner Bros. has confirmed that its appeal to the Classification Review Board has been unsuccessful, with the Board upholding the original refused classification decision. This means Mortal Kombat will not be legally available in Australia.
"We're obviously extremely disappointed that the Refused Classification decision has been upheld by the Classification Review Board," WBIE Australia said in a statement today. "We want to thank the thousands of Mortal Kombat fans in Australia and around the world who have voiced their support during the appeal process."
According to the Classification Board's original ruling, the reboot of the classic game franchise features "explicit" violence, blood spray and limb dismemberment during fatalities, which made it unable to be accommodated within the maximum MA15+ guidelines. Australia still remains without an R18+ classification for video games, meaning all games that cannot be accommodated within the MA15+ guidelines are automatically banned.
"The game includes over 60 fatalities, which contain explicit depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, disembowelment, and other brutal forms of slaughter," the official Board report stated. "Despite the exaggerated conceptual nature of the fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm, impact is heightened by the use of graphics, which are realistically rendered and very detailed. In the opinion of the Board, the game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is unsuitable for a minor to see or play. The game should therefore be Refused Classification pursuant to item 1(d) of the computer games table of the National Classification Board."
Five days after the Classification Board announced its ruling, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Australia appealed the Board's decision and resubmitted an identical version of the game for reclassification by the Classification Review Board, claiming that the violence in the game is on par with other games already available for sale in Australia.
"After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Australia have decided to appeal to the Australian Classification Review Board against the RC (Refused Classification) decision given to Mortal Kombat," WBIEA said in a statement to press. "After reviewing both the gameplay and the Board's original decision, WBIE Australia believes the violence in the game is on par with numerous other titles readily available for sale in the Australian market. As such, the company wants to exhaust all options to make the game available to Mortal Kombat fans in this country. An identical version of the game will be submitted for appeal."
UPDATE: GameSpot AU has just received the Classification Review Board's report on the Mortal Kombat, and it seems the decision to uphold the ban was a majority vote.
"In the Review Board's opinion, Mortal Kombat could not be accommodated within the MA15+ classification as the level of violence in the game has an impact which is higher than strong," the Board said in a statement. "As MA15+ is the highest classification category available to computer games under the Australian Classification Scheme, the Classification Review Board must refuse classification to Mortal Kombat."