Rockstar Games' 2004 stealth action title Manhunt was the subject of wide controversy over its graphic violence and context, earning bans in New Zealand and Germany and receiving 17+ and 18+ classifications in North America and Canada respectively. In Australia, the title was originally classified MA15+ in October 2003, only to be revoked in September 2004 following an appeal by then Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. Manhunt was given a Refused Classification (RC) rating and banned for sale in Australia.
Now, seven years later, it appears Manhunt is once again being made available to Aussie gamers. Valve's digital distribution service Steam is allowing Australian users to purchase the game from its online store, with GameSpot AU successfully purchasing and downloading the title. Manhunt's existing RC status should technically make it illegal for sale in any form Down Under.
"The game Manhunt was refused classification on 29 September 2004," director of the Classification Board of Australia, Donald McDonald, told GameSpot AU. "It is an offence in all states and territories of Australia to sell, hire or demonstrate a computer game classified Refused Classification (RC). As classification offences are established in the State and Territory enforcement legislation, it is the responsibility of the various states and territories to police these matters.
"A computer game classified RC would also be a prohibited import under Regulation 4A of the Customs Import Regulations. Any person importing an RC computer game into Australia needs to consider whether they are committing an offence."
Rockstar Games Australia representatives said they had no comment on the story as of press time.
UPDATE: Overnight, Steam has updated its Australian store offerings and has now removed Manhunt from sale, with the game no longer appearing on searches. Those who bought the game during its brief window of availability are also out of luck, with refunds now being sent out to purchasers.