Originally video games in Australia could not be rated R18+, only up to MA15+. At the time, the R18+ classification rating could be given to film but a video game whose content would be deemed fitting for the R18+ rating would be 'Refused Classification' due to it not being available for the medium.
In July and August 2011 this was changed with all Attorney-Generals agreeing upon the R18+ rating for video games and would be available by the end of 2011. This means many of the previous games refused classification would fit in to the R18+ and if the publisher chooses to pay the reclassification fee, can get the game re-rated and be able to sell the game within Australia.
With the R18+ rating in place, this means that many fewer videogames will be given the refused classification rating. Despite this, games can still be refused classification if deemed to go above the R18+ category. Content that contains depictions of sexual violence and the promotion of illegal drug use would still lead to games being refused classification. More specifically, games which may be refused classification include content that:
- Depict, express or otherwise deals 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.
- Depict very high in impact violence and/or contain any type of violence in conjunction with real sexual intercourse (i.e. sexual violence)
- Depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult a minor who is, or who appears to be, under 18 (whether or not engaged in sexual activity).
- Promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence.
Classification is mandatory, and games that are rated refused classification by the ACB are banned for sale, hire or public exhibition, carrying a maximum fine of $275,000 and/or 10 years jail. It is, however, legal to possess RC films (except in Western Australia and parts of the Northern Territory), unless they contain illegal content (e.g. child pornography).
Material which are refused classification are put on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service list of prohibited items. Any copies of these games found at the border will be seized, and its recipient, depending on the lol :) number of copies being imported may receive up to A$110,000 in fines.
The list depicted below are of games that are either still banned, or had been banned but have been edited exclusively for Australia. It should be noted that these games were banned before the introduction of the R18+ category, if most of these games were to be re-rated today, they would most likely achieve the R18+ rating uncut. The second list is of games that have been eventually released unedited.
|50 Cent: Bulletproof||Banned because of a high degree of bloody and gory violence throughout. A censored version was later released.|
|Blitz: The League||Banned due to drug use related to incentives and rewards.|
|BMX XXX||Banned because of high impact sexual references. A censored version was later released.|
|Dark Sector||Banned because of gory violence involving mutilations. A censored version was later released.|
|Dreamweb||Banned because of a scene of "sexualized violence". However, the game was censored, and re-released with an M rating in 1996.|
|The Getaway||Originally released uncut with a MA15+, it was later resubmitted and banned due to a scene of detailed torture. A censored version omitting this scene was later released with a MA15+. The sequel was released uncut.|
|Left 4 Dead 2||Refused classification due to relentlessly gory violence. An edited version has been released using the German cut.This version of game is now less violent than its predecessor which was released with a MA15+.|
|Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude||Banned because of sexuality and nudity in relation to incentives and rewards.|
|Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure||Originally released with a MA15+, Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock used his power to later appeal the decision to get it banned for the glorification of graffiti.|
|Manhunt||Originally rated MA15+ but Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock later appealed the rating thus being banned afterwards because of high-impact violence involving torture. The publisher chose not to release Manhunt 2 in case of it falling the same fate as its predecessor.|
|Mortal Kombat||Banned due to the graphic realistic depictions of mutilations and gore performed by the fatalities. Ban upheld by Australian Classification Review Board on Monday, March 14, 2011.|
|NARC (2005 game)||Banned because of drug use related to incentives.|
|NecroVisioN||Banned because of relentlessly graphic violence. A censored version was later released with a M rating.|
|Postal||Banned due to depictions of revolting and abhorrent content.|
|Postal 2||Originally released unrated to some retail stores in Australia, when it was picked up for publishing in Australia it was banned because of gross, abhorrent content.|
|Phantasmagoria||Banned because of a scene involving rape/sexual violence.|
|Reservoir Dogs||Banned because of frequent depictions of realistic violence and disturbing scenes of torture.|
|Risen||Banned because of sexual activity and drug use related to incentives.|
|Shellshock 2: Blood Trails||Banned because of frequent and disturbing gory violence throughout.|
|Silent Hill: Homecoming||Banned because of a scene of very disturbing content involving drilling into body parts. Konami has since modified this part of the game to meet MA15+ guidelines.|
|Singles: Flirt Up Your Life||Banned because of sexuality and nudity in relation to incentives and rewards.|
|Soldier of Fortune: Payback||Banned because of high impact violence involving graphic depictions of dismemberment. Activision has since modified the game to meet MA15+ guidelines.|
|The Witcher 2||Banned because of sex related to rewards, the game was edited for its Australian release.|
|Voyeur||Originally rated MA15+ but later appealed and banned because of a scene of explicit sexual dialogue involving incest.|
The list below are of games that have been eventually released unedited, rating appealed or the worldwide edition later being released uncut and being identical to other countries.
|Aliens vs. Predator||Originally banned because of violence involving graphic depictions of mutilation. Rating later appealed and overturned and now is rated MA15+.|
|Fallout 3||Originally banned because of drug use in relation to real world drugs and subsequent connection to its incentive/rewards. Edited world wide due to the insignificant change that was done (the name of morphine being changed to Med-x). Therefore the same game that was rated 17+/18+ in other countries was rated MA15+ in Australia.|
|F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin||Originally banned because of frequent and gory violence, Warner bros. interactive later appealed the decision and received an MA15+ uncut on the basis that the violence was unrealistic.|
|Grand Theft Auto III||Originally banned because of the use of prostitutes. A censored version was later released. PC version was released uncut with MA15+.|
|Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas||Had its classification revoked following the Hot Coffee controversy. Edited worldwide with this version of the game also achieving a MA15+.|
|Grand Theft Auto: Vice City||Pre-Censored before submission because of the use of prostitutes. In 2010 the game was released uncut again receiving a MA15+.|
|Grand Theft Auto IV||Pre-censored before submission because of sex scenes involving prostitutes. An uncut version was later released for the PC with an MA15+. A patch was later released to completely uncensor the PS3 version and the 360 version. The complete edition is fully uncut and all it's expansions are unedited with an MA15+.|
|The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut||Originally banned due to relentlessly graphic and detailed depictions of violence and gore. Sega successfully appealed the rating and is now rated MA15+ uncut on the basis that the over the top violence mitigated the impact.|
|Sexy Poker||Originally banned from being released on WiiWare due to nudity being used as an incentive. Edited worldwide to replace nudity with revealing under garments and this edition received an M rating.|
|Shellshock: Nam '67||Originally banned because of themes and violence that were high in impact; however, it was re-rated MA15+ uncut when the game was resubmitted and objectionable content was shown within proper context.|
|Tender Loving Care||Originally banned because of high impact sexual references and nudity; however, due to being more of an interactive live-action movie than a videogame, it was later submitted as an interactive DVD and due to being under different guidelines it was re-rated MA15+ uncut.|
|The Punisher||Originally banned because of disturbing and graphic scenes involving torture. Edited worldwide due to troubles with other countries as well (such as being threatened with an AO rating in America and also being threatened as being objectionable by the UK's BBFC) and this edition was passed through with an MA15+. Australia got the same version as Europe.|
In December 1999, citing a man who killed three and injured eight, Brazil banned six games. Vendors were required to surrender the games to police or face a fine equal to about $11,000 USD a day.
|Cat In The Hat: The Game||Banned because of copyright from the said movie.|
|Blood||Banned because of high impact violence.|
|Bully (including Scholarship Edition)||Banned for showing violence and harassment in a school setting.|
|Carmageddon||Banned because of high impact violence against pedestrians.|
|Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now||Banned because of high impact violence against pedestrians.|
|Counter-Strike||Banned because of high impact violence. In June 2009, the game was allowed to be sold again (however, retail sales still banned).|
|Doom||Banned because of high impact violence.|
|Duke Nukem 3D||Banned because of high impact violence.|
|EverQuest||Banned because of X18+ references.|
|Grand Theft Auto||Banned because of high impact violence. This is only to the original GTA, and is no longer banned.|
|Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City||Banned in the city of Barueri because it uses a music by a Brazilian composer without permission. Also applies to DLC that use that music (the stock IV game does not feature the track).|
|Mortal Kombat||Banned because of high impact violence.|
|Requiem: Avenging Angel||Banned because of high impact violence.|
|Postal||Banned because of high impact violence.|
People's Republic of China
|Command & Conquer Generals||Banned for "smearing the image of China and the Chinese army" despite the fact that the game presents China as a quasi-protagonist. Additionally, the Chinese campaign has the player destroy questionable targets such as the Three Gorges Dam and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.|
|Football Manager 2005||Banned for recognizing Tibet as an independent country. An edited version globally was later released.|
|Hearts of Iron||Banned for portraying Tibet, Sinkiang, and Manchuria as independent countries and Taiwan as under Japanese control.|
|I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike||Banned because of "intentionally blackening China and the Chinese army's image."|
No video games have ever been banned in Cuba, but few games were sold in that country until 2007 when restrictions were eased. In 2010, the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops gained much controversy as there is a mission where the player attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, only to end up killing a double.
|EA Sports MMA||This game was not released in Denmark because of a law prohibiting marketing for energy drinks, which is a central part of the game.|
|Mortyr (2001-10-24)||Banned because of Nazi references.|
|Soldier of Fortune: Payback||Banned due to high levels of gore (decapitations, dismemberments, and excessive blood-letting)|
|KZ Manager (1990-10-29/1990-11-19)||Banned because of Nazi references.|
|Condemned: Criminal Origins (Decision AG Munic February 2008)||Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
|Condemned 2: Bloodshot||Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
|Manhunt (all versions, 2004-07-19)||Banned because of high impact scary violence and cruelty.|
|Manhunt 2||Banned because of high impact scary violence and cruelty.|
|Dead Rising||Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
|Silent Hill: Homecoming (Uncut)||Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
|Wolfenstein (Uncut)||Banned because of Nazi references.|
|Scarface: The World is Yours (Uncut)||Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
|Left 4 Dead 2 (Uncut)||Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
|The Darkness (Uncut European Xbox 360 version)||Banned because of Nazi signs in bonus comic.|
|Dead Island||Banned because of extreme graphic violence.|
In a recent announcement, Sega has confirmed that recently announced The House of the Dead: Overkill and MadWorld will not be distributed in Germany. Sega will also not be publishing Aliens vs. Predator.
After 10 years a "Beschlagnahmung" (ban) expires. The ban of the following titles dates back more than 10 years and they have not been banned again:
|Wolfenstein 3D||Was banned because of Nazi references.|
|Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines (English version 1999-06-24)||Was banned because of Nazi references.|
|Mortal Kombat (all Sega platforms, 1994-11-11)||Was banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
|Mortal Kombat II (all versions except Game Boy, 1995-02-08)||Was banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
|Mortal Kombat 3 (Sega Genesis, PlayStation, SNES 1997-06-12)||Was banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
In 2002, the Greek government banned all electronic gambling games in public places in an attempt to fight illegal gambling. Currently, this law has been suspended, being deemed unconstitutional. God Of War is also ban due to a claim of a Mock of their religion.
Because IFCO almost never rates video games, and leaves decisions to PEGI and BBFC, there have not been a lot of games banned. Only one game so far, Manhunt 2, has passed IFCO's rating of 18. But the ban was later lifted.
Banned for "gross, unrelenting, and gratuitous violence."
In 2007, a ban was decided for Manhunt 2, blocking its distribution over Europe. Later, the ban was lifted.
Games are rarely banned in Japan, and it holds the place as one of the top video game producers in the world. However, Fallout 3 was edited in Japan due to a weapon in the game called the Fat Man. Because of its relation to the real historic event, the weapon was renamed to the Nuka Launcher in the Japanese version of Fallout 3. Japan's Spike removed all references to Kim Jong-il and North Korea in Homefront, as well.
Malaysia tends to ban high impact violence, depictions of cruelty, anti-Muslim and sexual content. In August 2008, Head of a Malaysian consumer rights organization, Muhammad Idris, called for a ban of Grand Theft Auto and other similarly violent games such as Manhunt series.On February 2010, one week after Dante's Inferno released, the game was banned by Jabatan Agama Islam [JAIS] for cruelty, hellish visions, sexuality and content that was against Sharia.
Though no video games have ever been nationally banned, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 was banned in the state of Chihuahua due to Mexican Rebels being antagonist and stereotyping the city of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez. However, the game can still be found in shelves in other states.
In New Zealand, games are classified by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. If they are dubbed "objectionable" in all cases, then they are considered banned. In this case, the game in question is not only illegal to sell, but illegal to own, possess, or import.
|Manhunt||Banned because of high impact scary violence and cruelty.|
|Manhunt 2||Banned because of high impact scary violence and cruelty.|
|Postal 2||Banned because of gross, abhorrent content (urination, high impact violence, animal cruelty, homophobia, racial/ethnic stereotypes, etc.)|
|Reservoir Dogs||Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.|
Russia has no formal ratings board and no games have been banned in Russia due to excessive violence or nudity because of freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution of Russia. Media in North America and Europe have falsely reported that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which features a storyline in which Russian "ultranationalists" take control of the country and invade the United States, was banned in Russia. Activision called these reports 'erroneous'. The Russian version of this game was edited by removing the optional level (the player is given the option to skip the level at any time) "No Russian" where the player is given the option to shoot Russian civilians in airport.
It should be noted that most of these games can be found in most stores due to the government's lack of enforcing the banning of these games with the exception of Pokémon cards which are considered a form of gambling.
|God of War (series)||Banned due to the presence of interactive sex scenes, partial nudity and sexual themes as well as the word "God" in the title.|
|Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare||Banned due to negative portrayal of Arabs.|
|Assassin's Creed||Was banned (for two weeks) because of perceived negative portrayal of Arabs.|
|Grand Theft Auto (series)||Banned because of the presence of prostitutes and heavy sexual themes.|
|Pokémon series (trading cards only)||Banned because of "promoting Zionism and gambling." However, that ban only applied to the trading cards, as Pokémon video games are still sold today in Saudi Arabia.|
|Dante's Inferno||Banned because of hellish visions, religious sensitivity and nudity.|
|Heavy Rain||Banned because of nudity and a sex scene.|
|L.A. Noire||Banned because of nudity.|
|Red Dead Redemption||Banned due to nudity, prostitution, violence and cruelty.|
|Mass Effect||Banned because of a lesbian encounter between an alien and a human. The ban was later lifted.|
|The Darkness||Banned because of excessive violence. The ban was later lifted for the PlayStation 3 version.|
South Korea has typically banned any game that mentions the war between North and South Korea in order to avoid tensions between the two countries. However, in December 2006, South Korea announced that these games will no longer be banned in order to comply with the principle of free expression. However, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Manhunt, and Manhunt 2 are still banned because of violence and cruelty. In addition, Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was also banned, although this was later lifted.
|Grand Theft Auto III||Banned because of violence and cruelty.|
|Grand Theft Auto: Vice City||Banned because of violence and cruelty.|
|Kira Hara||Banned due to various sensitive materials.|
|Manhunt||Banned because of violence and cruelty.|
|Manhunt 2||Banned because of violence and cruelty.|
|Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction||Banned to avoid increasing diplomatic tensions with North Korea. Later lifted.|
|Homefront||Banned most likely for negative portrayal of Korean culture.|
Thailand will typically ban any games with sexual content, such as many hentai games, with the same reasons as banning any pornographic films.
Additionally, all video games of Grand Theft Auto video game series have been banned in Thailand since August 2008 because of a 18-year old Thai player who killed a taxi-driver similar to the gameplay in GTA.
However, most of the banned games can still be found sold or shared in Thailand and the police do not generally close down those shops or ban file-sharing websites.
United Arab Emirates
|Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare||Banned possibly due to violence against Muslims.|
|Darksiders||Banned likely due to contradicting with customs and traditions.|
|Dead Rising 2||Banned due to violence, gambling, and nudity.|
|Dragon Age: Origins||Banned likely due to sexual themes, including having possible homosexual relationships.|
|Dragon Age II||Banned likely due to sexual themes, including having possible homosexual relationships.|
|Fallout: New Vegas||Banned likely due to gambling and sexual themes.|
|The Godfather II||Banned likely due to nudity.|
|God of War series||Banned likely due to high impact of violence, gore, and cruelty.|
|Grand Theft Auto series||Banned likely due to high impact of violence and cruelty.|
|Heavy Rain||Banned likely due to a sultry seduction scene.|
|Mafia II||Banned likely due to excessive violence and nudity.|
|Mass Effect 2||Banned likely due to lesbian relationships.|
|Red Dead Redemption||Initially banned, likely due to nudity. Ban later lifted circa two months after official release date.|
|Dead Island||Banned due to "extreme depictions of violence and scantily-clad game characters."|
There is currently no legislation in force, owing to a legislative mistake in 1984. It is anticipated that the system described below will continue on a voluntary basis, and the legal structure enacted in November 2009.
Games in the UK usually only receive a ban when they contain real sex scenes or extreme and gratuitous violence. It was planned to make all age rating responsibility go to PEGI in April 2011, but this has been cancelled and some responsibility continues to be held by the BBFC. PEGI age ratings are not compulsory while BBFC age ratings are. Usually, if a game would achieve a rating of 16+ or higher by PEGI it would also have to go through a rating procedure by the BBFC. It is illegal to sell, buy or rent (although not illegal to import) a game that has not been classified by an approved age rating organisation in the UK. This only applies to games stored on physical media, not to downloadable media.
Manhunt 2 was the only game that has been refused classification by the BBFC. However, a modified version of Manhunt 2 was made after being refused classification which was initially refused classification like the original version, however after an appeal the modified version was allowed to be sold. Carmageddon was threatened with being refused classification but was modified to have zombies instead of humans being killed before refused classification was given. It was therefore given an 18 certificate. The ban for the original version with humans in was soon lifted. The Punisher was also threatened with being refused classification though edits were made at the request of the BBFC and later received an 18 certificate.
|Carmageddon||Was threatened refused certification in its uncut form due to excessive violence against pedestrians. It was altered to replace humans with zombies in order to circumvent this. The restriction was later lifted and a patch released to restore the original content.|
|Manhunt 2||Banned because of excessive violence. However, a modified version of Manhunt 2 was made after being refused classification which was initially refused classification like the original version, however after an appeal the modified version was allowed to be sold.|
|The Punisher||Was asked to edit as they were threatened as being objectionable. This was due to the interrogation scenes which were deemed very high in impact and could cause harm to the public. Thus the BBFC worked with the publishers to further mask these scenes despite the game already being the edited American release.|
In November 2009, the Government of Venezuela announced that it would ban all video games in which the objective was to shoot people. The ban was due to widespread violence in the country.
The bill was later published in the public journal of that country on December3 and gone into effect 3 months later, March 3, 2010, making Venezuela the first country to completely ban violent videogames in the world and making their manufacturing, distribution, selling, rental, exhibition and use illegal. Even though the proponents were not from the Venezuelan Government's political party, Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), President Hugo Chávez supported the ban, claiming there are some Internet games featuring him so players can "kill him"; and even calling video games consoles, including Nintendo DS and Sony's PlayStation, "poison" and values of the capitalism, which he considers "the road to hell".
According to reports of the Venezuelan National Guard, more than 13,000 objects, including violent video games, were destroyed to the date in the states of Lara and Portuguesa.
The ban is criticized by gamers and experts alike for its ambiguity and lack of clarity on its penalties, asides from being too harsh and indoctrinating a negative point of view. On the other hand, Sony expressed their hopes for the government to make changes for the law for good.