R18+: What Happens Next?

R18+ is officially introduced in Australia today, but what does this mean for previously banned games? And what about the states that are yet to introduce the law? Read our Q&A to find out!

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Today, Australia officially introduced an adult classification for video games, allowing R18+ rated games to be sold at a national level.

The introduction of R18+ for games in Australia comes after more than ten years of lobbying involving various states and territories, the local video game industry, and consumers from all over the country.

However, now that R18+ for games is finally here, a few questions remain unanswered.

In this special New Year's Day feature, GameSpot AU clears up any remaining confusion surrounding the introduction of R18+ for games in Australia.

So, R18+ for games is now officially here. But what does that mean?

The R18+ legislation is officially introduced today, January 1. This means that the Classification Board of Australia can now legally classify games as R18+, and these games can be legally sold and displayed at a federal level.

So what does "federal level" actually mean? Does my state qualify for R18+ games?

While the legislation for R18+ for games has been passed and enacted at a federal level, each state and territory is responsible for passing complementary legislation that will dictate how R18+ games are displayed and how the adult classification for games is enforced.

The ACT was the first Australian territory to officially pass the R18+ legislation. South Australia, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory have also officially passed the R18+ legislation.

Queensland remains the only state in Australia to not have passed the complimentary R18+ legislation. Earlier this year, the Queensland government specifically stated that it will not sell R18+ games from January 1 but instead await the result of a Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee report--due to be released on February 7, 2013--before debating the R18+ legislation in parliament and officially amending the state's law to include an R18+ classification for video games.

This means that R18+ games will still be illegal in Queensland from January 1, 2013, until that time when the R18+ legislation has officially passed through the state's parliament and the law amended accordingly to include an adult classification for video games.

If I live in Queensland, does that mean I'll miss out on R18+ games?

The R18+ legislation will most likely pass through the Queensland parliament by the end of February. It is unlikely that the Classification Board of Australia will rate a video game as R18+ before that happens.

What about the games that have been refused classification in Australia in the past? Does it mean games like Mortal Kombat will be re-released with an R18+ rating?

Not necessarily. The Classification Board must wait two years before it can re-classify a title. This means it is up to individual video game publishers to decide whether or not to re-submit a game for re-classification after the two year period has passed. So, for example, Warner Bros. may not choose to re-submit Mortal Kombat for re-classification since re-releasing a game two years after its original release may not be deemed profitable.

The Classification Board may also re-classify a game if a federal minister requests this to be done.

What about MA15+ rated games? Will some of them be re-classified as R18+?

Again, a two-year waiting period applies for all game re-classifications. Titles currently rated MA15+ in Australia may be re-submitted for classification to the Classification Board by the relevant publisher or at the request of a federal minister.

So what will be the first game to be classified R18+ in Australia?

It can either be a new game that is submitted for classification to the Classification Board on or after today, January 1, 2013 or a game that is re-submitted for classification (after the two year waiting period has elapsed) by either the publisher of said game, or after a request from a federal minister.

Does this mean Australia is finally in step with other countries in having an adult classification for games?

Yes!

How will this affect the future of video game classification in this country?

For this one, we're kicking it over to Ron Curry, the CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA).

"Naturally, after ten years of lobbying, we are very pleased that January 1 will see the introduction of an R18+ classification," Curry says. "We are weary though of how the revised guidelines will be interpreted and if we are really getting an R18+ category, or just a movement of MA15+ into higher level of classification. Initially, we expect the Classification Board to be a little cautious in how they apply the new guidelines, so we may need to wait some time to see how the dust settles on this."

"Having an R18+ also means that we can now turn our focus on the much larger problem of classification in general in Australia. iGEA contributed to the recent ALRC Review of the National Classification Scheme and we look forward to working with the government to establish a truly modern classification scheme that is flexible and nimble enough to inform parents and care givers, reflect the real concerns of the public and is designed to keep up with rapid changes in content and content delivery."

Discussion

64 comments
MVan86
MVan86

While I'm glad this alteration has been affected I'm concerned that the effect will be stifled (if not entirely snuffed) by the conservative elements (within the public, religious organisations and governments) we saw come out and try to stop this.

 

It is disturbingly clear just how many people believe whole-heartedly that gaming is just a past time for children, teenagers, and some young adults that they grow out of (never mind the even more disturbing delusion some of them have that gamers can't tell the difference between reality and game worlds), with only a small percentage of people continuing to game past their early 20s (and that people like that are unfulfilled/unsuccessful in the real world and so live in fantasy worlds instead).

 

As a consequence we saw the SA Attorney General demand SA be able to rate games differently (as they do with some films) and likely why QLD set up this committee that's delaying them even considering the bill.

 

My concern is that there are people like that on the ratings board, and other bodies who can get in the way, who will not act in accordance with the spirit and intent of the alteration. People who'll: work to raise the rating of a lot of games currently on sale and continue opposing classification of the sort of games intended to be allowed in via an R 18+ rating.

 

isshiah
isshiah

i can't wait for the parent groups to gather around a fire to burn all copies of the first R rated game.

elektrixx
elektrixx

What happens is the first R rated game gets some light publicity followed by poor reviews. At that point everyone remembers that most banned games were crappy.

SwiftusMaximus
SwiftusMaximus

My question is, if you haven't imported Mortal Kombat by now, why not?

Lets look forward to the future of new releases.

Good gaming.

AceBalls
AceBalls

This is a good time as any to thank the Gamespot gang for their relentless charge into rallying and pushing the charge towards getting this. It's obvious that without them, the gamers of Oz would be kept down and out of the game. Cheers guys!

natalieyan
natalieyan

so basically,  mortal combat vita and the ps3 version (for freebies of Jan, 2013) will never come to us PS+ subscribers in australia

Salt_AU
Salt_AU

Queenslanders have always been slow.

Mr_AJ
Mr_AJ

Could developers simply release digital copies of these older games i.e. on PSN/XBLA/Steam if they were to be re-submitted and passed?

zarshack
zarshack

Can they uncensor my copy of L4D2 on steam now then?

Ayzed
Ayzed

no more banned/cencored games, hel the fuck yeah!

36Chambers93
36Chambers93

Its my 35th birthday tomorrow and I am so glad that my country finally supports my 30 year hobby and treats me like an adult. Imagine I actually respected this government and allowed them to stop me playing games that I have had every right to play in those 3 decades, rolleyes. Now back to importing games where I also like to avoid those ridiculous price markups.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Well, I'm glad that's over. Laura Parker better not be making stuff up!

ShadowsDemon
ShadowsDemon

Thank goodness us Aussie gamers will be treated like adults and not kids.

 

I wonder if Dead Space 3 will be R18+, though. I turn 18 soon, but I'm not going to be happy if I can't legally purchase it myself....may have to get it through Steam.

imprezawrx500
imprezawrx500

Hopefully now New Zealand won't get censored versions to meet the aussie ma15+ 

Olizart
Olizart

All I can say is, ITS ABOUT FRIGGEN TIME. I'm soooooo happy, from now on I'll never feel like I'm missing out again. :D

10knuckles01
10knuckles01

so L4D2 wont be released in its full gory glory?

 

sam628
sam628

then that means gta 5 will be r18 plus right?

 

sam628
sam628

it's about time, this r18 plus law for games should of come years ago

rcbhappy
rcbhappy

I am very happy that a R18+ for games is finally here! but? like what Ron Curry, said I am weary also about if this is truly a R18+ category, for games or just a higher level MA15+ classification? because of those stupid guidelines? a R18+ classification doesn't need stupid guidelines? anybody agree with me here? I JUST DON'T TRUST IT! don't be fooled! games will still be dam RC or banned!? we will, NEVER HAVE A TRUE R18+ for games?

PalZer0
PalZer0

I have a question which isn't covered here.

 

EB's head office and distribution centre for online orders are based in QLD. How will the lack of R18+ laws being passed in QLD affect them? Can they still ship R18+ games out to other states from QLD or will they have to have a distribution centre in a state that has R18+ laws enacted?

volume_three
volume_three

This changes nothing for the "savvy" gamer. Importing is still the more viable option IMO due to our absurd retail prices.

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

 @elektrixx Mortal Kombat, Fallout 3 (pre-edit,) and GTA IV (uncut) are all pretty good. Granted, the only ones I tend to know about are ones that I care about.

Nosif6682
Nosif6682

well think of it this way, even though R18+ is now open to games, warner will still have to wait 2 years to release the game, but by that time(or before it) Mortal kombat will be avalible on xbox live and the PSN nettwork.

AceBalls
AceBalls

 @natalieyan Yep, unfortunately it's too late for MK3 & L4Dead 2. That's the part that is still upsetting. But anything that comes out now and into the future will be all good eg: GTA 5 and friends ;)

rcbhappy
rcbhappy

 @Salt_AU

 

Sorry!

 

it's just how I feel about it, because I know in my gut that's what it really is i'm sure? we will never have a true R1"+ for games

OzzyEyekon
OzzyEyekon

 @Mr_AJ good question i was also wondering tis thinking itll be easier and maybe more profitable for developers

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

 @zarshack You can, with the left4uncut patch which has been available for most of the time that the game has been out.

SuprSaiyanRockr
SuprSaiyanRockr

 @Ayzed Not necessarily. Some games may still be banned if it's too obscene. I think an example mentioned was something called 'rapeplay'.

I imagine you get the idea.

Alucard1475
Alucard1475

 @sam628 Probably MA...If you could decapitate somebody or cut them to pieces, then R18, but highly unlikely in a GTA game.

Salt_AU
Salt_AU

 @rcbhappy Was going to type the same thing until I read your comment

Prats1993
Prats1993

@volume_three Ye but if u imported Mk9 and realised u couldnt play with an internet connection, so no online play, updates or DLC, it means quite a bit. Also, Syndicate was shit, downloaded a pirated copy and i couldnt care less if it got banned here. The only game im eager to play is the uncut version of L4D2 over steam for online play.

Massacher
Massacher

 @AceBalls  @natalieyan you can get the a gore hack for L4D 2:

 

https://sites.google.com/site/left4uncut/l4u

 

as for MK9 just import it from the UK. and to get the DLC make a new account on your XBOX 360. set your region to US or UK then login and buy the DLC with the new account. once downloaded and installed log back into your main account (set region back to Australia) and bam the DLC will now work with your Australian account . i don't know if this will work with PS3 but you can try it.

PalZer0
PalZer0

 @SIDEFX1 But as R18+ games will still be technically illegal in QLD, doesn't that cause issues for EB's distribution centre as to send online orders for R18+ games out, they'd have to have stock on the premises?

 

Given how much of a douchebag Campbell Newman is being at the moment on other issues, I don't see the R18+ situation in QLD getting resolved any time soon.

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

 @Prats1993   I just got the version of MK with the bonus characters. I only play that local anyway. Also for L4D2, just get the left4uncut patch, run it and then open L4D2. I couldn't play it any other way.

volume_three
volume_three

 @Prats1993

That's partially true for copies imported from the US or Asia. The "workaround" is quite simple in creating another PSN account for the region which your game was purchased. Online passes from UK versions however are most certainly redeemable via our store so such games can be played on your original PSN account. DLC can also be purchased via the use of region-specific prepaid PSN cards.

Ayzed
Ayzed

 @Ground_Zero  @flammable_zeus  @elektrixx

 Yeah, because it was going to be banned here in Australia otherwise. they wanted to give everyone the same game.

 

I don't even see the big deal, they were gonna reject it cause it used the word "morphine" instead of stimpak. never mind that you can explode their heads and watch eyeballs and pieces of jaw fly out in all directions. but calling a drug morphine.. oh... makes me sick....... lol

natalieyan
natalieyan

 @PalZer0  @SIDEFX1 this wont be a problem, as China bans all video games and consoles but they still produce ps3 and 360

Prats1993
Prats1993

@flammable_zeus Would it work with a steam version of L4D2?