The Australian Classification Board recently refused to rate Compulsion Games and Gearbox Publishing’s retail edition of We Happy Few, effectively banning it from being sold in the region.
Compulsion games responded to the ban, making a blog post on May 22nd, 2018 explaining that if they’re unable to get the decision reversed and unable to sell the game legally in Australia, they may have to issue refunds to Kickstarter backers looking forward to receiving a physical copy of the game in the land down under. They state…
“ We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call.”
Censored Gaming did an updated video following the initial ban of We Happy Few, explaining that the game was effectively banned for using drugs as an incentive or a reward.
In the game, the drug “Joy” is used to blend into the dystopian society, where everyone must take the drug or otherwise they’re considered a “downie” and punished by the totalitarian government. The objective of the game is to avoid taking the drug and find a way to escape from the island.
However, context and nuance wasn’t taken into consideration by the Australian Classification Board and they effectively banned the game from being released in the region by refusing to give it a rating.
Compulsion Games will attempt to resolve the matter and get the game properly rated for release in the region on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, but if they’re unable to do so then they may be forced to offer refunds to Australian backers who helped crowdfund the game to the tune of $334,000 on Kickstarter back in 2014.