Australia is easily one of the strictest markets for video game certification, with the Australian Classification Review Board taking a dim view of excessive violence, drug taking and over-sexualisation. It’s seen games like Saints Row IV refused classification for its big purple dildo, Hotline Miami 2 for its depiction of sexual violence, The Witcher 2 for a quest in which you could accept sex as a reward, and on and on. Developers either have to adjust their game to work around these complaints, or simply not release the game there.
Thankfully, We Happy Few has had its ban overturned after developers Compulsion Games asked the ACRB to reconsider the game’s drug taking and the context in which it takes place. The game will now release in the country on 10th August, as in other regions
Here’s the statement from Compulsion:
After considering our appeal to get We Happy Few reviewed for classification, the Australian Classification Review Board has decided to allow the release of We Happy Few in Australia!
We went to a great deal of effort to get this decision overturned. We Happy Few will be rated R18+ in Australia.
We are extremely pleased with the decision of the board and excited that our Australian fans and new players will be able to experience We Happy Few without modification.
We want to thank everybody who got involved in the discussion, contacted the board and sent us countless messages of support. Your involvement made a huge difference.
We Happy Few was one of those games that was initially banned because of what the ACRB took to be positive incentives of drug taking. In the game’s dystopian version of Britain, you’re encouraged to take a hallucinogenic drug called ‘Joy’, making the dull and drab world of misery look like it’s all happy and full of fun, like a piñata to whack until sweets pop out actually being a large rat in a bag. Lovely.
While taking Joy will help you fit in, making it easier to get around the game world and not be branded as a Downer, it will have an impact on the later game. Compulsion basically asked the ACRB to consider this context and that the main idea is to avoid taking Joy where possible. There is still drug taking in the game which has led to an R18+ rating.
Source: Compulsion Games