Anal probe weapons responsible for Australian Saints Row IV banning

Game refused classification for anal probe weapons depicting "implied sexual violence"; optional mission's drug use also listed.

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The Australian Classification Board has issued a report detailing why Saints Row IV was banned in Australia.

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According to a statement sent to GameSpot, the game was banned on the grounds of "implied sexual violence", pertaining specifically to the "Alien Anal Probe" weapon and the use of illicit drugs referred to as "alien narcotics".

The report outlines the reasons in detail, stating:

"The game includes a weapon referred to by the applicant as an 'Alien Anal Probe'. The applicant states that this weapon can be 'shoved into enemy's backsides'. When using this weapon, the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim's legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air."

The in-game weapon can be used on enemy characters or civilians. The board ruled that a "weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context".

The use of drugs was also highlighted in the report, with an optional mission involving the player "obtaining and smoking drugs referred to as 'alien narcotics'".

"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'".

"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."

Publisher Deep Silver has issued a statement announcing the developer's intention to create an edited version of the game.

“Volition, the developer, are reworking some of the code to create a version of the game for this territory by removing the content which could cause offence without reducing the outlandish gameplay that Saints Row fans know and love. Saints Row IV has been awarded PEGI 18 and ESRB M ratings, where fans can enjoy their time in Steelport as originally intended.”

The Australian Classification Board announced yesterday that Saints Row IV had been refused classification, banning it from sale in Australia. The ban marks the first time a game has been refused classification since the introduction of an R18+ adult rating for video games.

Saints Row IV was to be released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in August this year. The game will be launching for the European and North American markets as planned.

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