WOW receives belated Aussie rating

Blizzard's MMO game finally gets an M rating in Australia after five years without a local classification.

Australians have long become used to their draconian classification system for video games, with the lack of an R18+ rating designating some mature titles to the banned bin. But one type of game has curiously evaded the attention of Australia’s Classification Board so far--massively multiplayer online games.

MMO games such as World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, and others currently sit on Australian shelves without an official rating, seemingly in contrast with Australian law which clearly states that all games must carry a rating. But Blizzard Entertainment is hoping to change all that, with the announcement this morning that its widely popular massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft has been classified down under.

The Classification Board of Australia has rated World of Warcraft and its expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. The games will now carry an M rating, for “fantasy violence,” as well as new consumer advice stating “online content variable.” Since its release in 2004, World of Warcraft has been sold in Australia without a classification. According to a Blizzard spokesperson, this is something the publisher has tried to rectify before.

“Blizzard Entertainment has always worked closely with the Classification Board for all its titles,” Blizzard told GameSpot AU. “However, back in 2004, we were advised by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) that the online-only nature of World of Warcraft was unclassifiable under its definition of computer games at that time. Recent changes at the Classification Board have led to their ability to classify online-only games such as World of Warcraft.”

But the Australian Classification Board remains adamant that its stance and definition of what constitutes a "computer game" has not changed since 2004, when World of Warcraft was first submitted.

“It is the Board's view that World of Warcraft meets the definition of a computer game provided in the Classification Act and therefore can be classified,” the Board told GameSpot AU. "This is consistent with the intention of the National Classification Scheme to provide parents and consumers with classification advice on the content of games.”

The Classification Board would not comment on what “recent changes” the department has undergone in order to make it easier to classify online games, only saying that:

“The Classification Board has been following developments in online gaming.”

For more in-depth coverage of this issue, check out GameSpot AU’s latest feature, Playing By the Rules: Classifying Online Video Games in Australia.

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Discussion

30 comments
jmrwacko
jmrwacko

In summary: The Classification Board has decided that World of Warcraft is, in fact, a computer game. ...... Silly aussies.

FluxZero
FluxZero

Is this a result of your feature Laura or was your feature influenced by this news?

RonIsIZe_13
RonIsIZe_13

shani_boy101 unfortunately not that simple-problem is at the state gov level with the Attorney General's. I wonder-if you produce an R rated online WOW type game will it slip the net in australia? I feel an idea coming..Manhunt Online.

badiie05
badiie05

@thatguysawesome dude "your" awesome,i totally agree about WOW being so lame

Thatguysawesome
Thatguysawesome

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

Just do it 18+ so we can get rid of all children that play wow, maybe place a electro shock on every mouse so anyone that is underage and is about to play world of warcraft gets a little shock, just enough to tweak their neck a little bit. Oh wait a minute... 18+ games are banned! thanks Australia: I love you too. P.S.- Grow up.

smithers_109
smithers_109

M rating in Australia's not the same as in the States. It's just a a recommendation that it's suitable for 15+. Anyone of any age can still buy the game.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

i hate our censorship laws and prices for video games. i really wish there was a way to elect a decent (both major parties are pretty lousy, tbh) government, preferably a younger one that would get rid of these stupid censorship laws and stop the clean feed.

trenno2529
trenno2529

imagine the black market for it if it was rc'd, haha.

Foolz3h
Foolz3h

Now wouldn't it have been funny if it was RC'd?

Master_Alistair
Master_Alistair

@lol384 I think an M rating for WoW fits and anyway its an M rating so anyone can play it which unfortunately means there still will be 10 year olds playing. But the censorship in australia is completely rubbish.

Hoggerable
Hoggerable

As an Australian myself, I am ashamed at the censorship and classification system in Australia. Not just for games, but everything - Internet, books, artwork, music, etc... On a side note, maybe there will be less 10 year old kids roaming the World of Warcraft?...

lol384
lol384

i agree with thk123 and iloveflash...the aussie rating bored or i guesss government is stupid, sure there's alchol and barley abit of blood here and there but i dont think wow should have M rating

thk123
thk123

Is it just me, or does it seem like the Aussie rating board are desperate for media attention?

tibLeX123
tibLeX123

Hahaha yeah mate, not wrong!

iloveflash
iloveflash

The Aussie government is hilarious.

dunnowhathuh
dunnowhathuh

Frankly, I'd rather they hadn't rated WoW and follow that trend with every other subsequent game ever released here. Cuz face it, it's not like their ratings with games have ever been accurate/consistent/fair.

greasemonkey42
greasemonkey42

It seems our Classification Board sounds like a bunch of antiquated, uncooperative and unwilling dimwits who think 'no one really plays games' so much so that they think they can slack off and not actually do their jobs in the hope that no one will notice. It shouldn't take 5 years to tell whether something is a video game. Pathetic.

ratchet200
ratchet200

Look on the birght side... Maybe we won't see as many whinny children on Aussie servers now :D

Exodist
Exodist

As gameking5000 already said, its either PG or M, and theres still a higher rating (M15+, which is more restricted), M is more like a 15+ guideline. So its not as bad as an ESRB M rating.

ScionofEntropy
ScionofEntropy

M seems a little excessive. That'd be like rating Animal Crossing at M because you can curse at each other over the microphone.

TheTHCGamer
TheTHCGamer

i feel sorry for you aussie gamers because there are so many restrictions on video games over there. whenever i read news or hear news about gaming down under its never good. games getting banned or edited. this isnt necessarily bad news but its not good news either. it always comes down to what games and how games should be played. as a gamer got to be real annoying.

jamesh-42
jamesh-42

The statements from the classification board and state attorney general offices remind me of 1984's Ministry of Truth. While yesterday the classification board would not classify online only games, today we know that they have always been open to classifying online only games, and it was the publishers who were breaking the law. I guess we've always been at war with Eurasia.

rkaycom
rkaycom

Well at least the M rating will help cull the high pitched noobs :-)

gameking5000
gameking5000

@phudabulah The OFLC doesn't have an Teen rating so it's either PG or M.

forhekset
forhekset

Fantastic, so they can be tight about bans and introducing the R rating but up until now they havn't even cared that a bunch of MMOs completely bypassed the rating system altogether.

isnot-important
isnot-important

So an MMO, which can be (and is) more closely associated with people murdering eachother/sexual deviance/wasting their life, than other genres, is fine. (By that i am referring to the nutters who kill their friend because they stole a weapon from them, or killing eachother for a subscription, or offering sex for a subscription...Rare or not, it's occured far more frequently than any case involving someone killing people they assumed were zombies. (L4D2)) But if a game shows a bit of side boob, or features something like dismemberment it's instantly deemed not suitable? C'mon seriously, wake the f-ck up Australia. This country is becoming a joke. Internet filters, no R18+ - Did we become Amish suddenly?! /rant (excuse the possible and probable exaggeration)