Based on Starz Entertainment's original Spartacus television show, Spartacus Legends is a free-to-play title for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Its R18+ classification marks the first time a digital-only title has been given an adult rating in Australia, raising questions about the methodologies in place for policing distribution of age-appropriate digital content on home consoles.
Replying to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA) said that both digital and disc-based games can be restricted by parental controls on the PlayStation 3.
"There are a number of parental controls in place," the spokesperson told GameSpot. "In terms of purchasing or playing online content on the PlayStation Network (PSN), at the time of account creation, you have to be over 18 to set up a PSN account. If a person is under 18, the requirement is that the parent sets up a Master Account for the PSN, and can then create a sub-account for the child. When setting up the sub-account, the sub-account holder will not be able to play any games online rated above their age."
Microsoft did not return a request for comment at the time of publication. However, the Xbox 360 does also feature parental controls.
According to Ubisoft, Spartacus Legends will let players experience the life of a gladiator, from practicing on training grounds to participating in battles in the arena. Players will be tasked with dismembering their foes, and will have thousands of weapon combinations and skill systems to use along the way.
Players will be able to fight as Spartacus, Crixus, or a user-created gladiator, and take part in fights with friends locally or via online multiplayer.
The Classification Board of Australia rated the game R18+ for "high-impact bloody violence". According to the classification listing, the game contains high-impact violence, moderate-impact themes, nudity, and language.
Spartacus Legends does not yet have a release date for Australia, but is due to be released in Q1 this year in the US.
UPDATE: Microsoft has responded to GameSpot's request for comment.
"Xbox Live can restrict content based on the user’s account details," the publisher said. "Microsoft will do this for R18+ content."