When Saints Row IV was initially banned in Australia last month, there was still some hope that an unedited version of the game would eventually make it out Down Under following an appeal by publisher Koch Media. But that hope has now been squashed, with the Classification Review Board today unanimously upholding the Refused Classification tag for Saints Row IV, meaning it will be illegal to sell the game in Australia.
The game was initially refused classification due to implied sexual violence (specifically pertaining to Saints Row IV's alien anal probe weapon) and the use of illicit drugs referred to as "alien narcotics."
The Review Board convened this week in response to an application from Koch to reconsider the Classification Board's original decision. And while it seems that the Review Board considers the alien anal probe weapon as allowable under Australia's R18+ classification, the drug use remained problematic. While a full report of the appeal has yet to be released, a statement from the review board has outlined that Saints Row IV "could not be accommodated within the Australian R18+ classification as drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted."
In the original Classification Board report, the issue with drug use stemmed around an optional mission where players needed to obtain and smoke the alien narcotic drugs.
"Smoking the 'alien narcotics' equips the player with 'superpowers,' which increase their in-game abilities, allowing them to progress through the mission more easily. During the mission, onscreen prompts guide the player to 'Go to deal location' and 'Get drugs,'" the report stated.
"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 assigned to describe a class of real-world drugs that include such proscribed substances as cocaine and heroin…this game therefore contains drug use related to incentives and rewards, and should be refused classification."
Despite today's news, there is still a chance Aussies will get to play Saints Row IV, albeit a slightly different version than the rest of the world will receive. An Australian spokesperson for Koch has confirmed to GameSpot that an edited version of Saints Row IV has been submitted to Australian censors for classification, although there's no indication when a decision about the edited version will be made.
GameSpot will update this story as more details emerge.