Developer Ludeon Studios' widely acclaimed sci-fi colony sim RimWorld has had its Refused Classification status rescinded in Australia following a successful appeal, meaning its effective ban in the region has been overturned.
The notoriously sensitive Australian Classification Board initially refused to grant RimWorld a rating in March after its publisher Double Eleven Limited submitted the game for an upcoming "multi platform" launch, prohibiting it from release and effectively banning it from sale. The decision even affected the long-available Steam version of RimWorld, preventing new purchases from being made on Valve's digital store.
No specific reason was given for the board's decision at the time, with its website only referencing its usual boilerplate copy for games refused a rating, saying RC titles are those that "depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified."
One month on from RimWorld's ban, its creator, Tynan Sylvester, confirmed the ruling had been appealed and that the Australian Classification Board had agreed to review their decision - a process that would involve hearing from "legal professionals and expert witnesses".
Those proceedings are now complete, and the classification board has unanimously agreed to grant RimWorld an R 18+ rating in Australia, meaning it can now be legally sold - albeit only to adults - alongside consumer advice that the game includes "high impact themes and drug use".
"The game includes fantasy drug use, but in the Review Board’s opinion, the game mechanic ultimately provides disincentives related to drug-taking behaviour, to the point where regular drug use leads to negative consequences such as overdose, addiction, and withdrawal," the board's newly released statement reads.
"Players may choose for colonist pawns to consume drugs in certain scenarios, but this greatly hinders player progress, as characters will succumb to addiction and must deal with long-term negative impacts of their drug use. The drug use is depicted at a distance through a top-down perspective, in a highly stylised, simplified form. The game also contains high impact themes that are justified by the context of colonists surviving in an inhospitable fantasy world."
Today's U-turn makes RimWorld the latest in a steadily growing list of video games to be hit with the ban hammer in Australia for their depictions of drug use, only for that ban to later be overturned following an appeal. We Happy Few and Disco Elysium have both been through the same process, while other titles, such as Bohemia Interactive's DayZ, ultimately opted to remove drug references worldwide in order to legally be sold on Australian shelves.
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