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We Happy Few was denied classification by Australia’s Classification Board back in May, but the organization’s Review Board has now reconsidered that ruling and instead allowed the game an R 18+ rating.
Without classification a game cannot be legally sold in Australia, so reversing the initial ‘refused classification’ decision and instead rating the game R 18+ will now allow it to be sold in the country, though only to persons over the age of 18.
The board’s original decision stemmed largely for the fact that it believed the content of We Happy Few fell under section 1(a) of the National Classification Code’s computer games table dealing with games that feature “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.”
Drug use, particularly the fictional ‘joy’ drug that the story of the game centers around, is featured prominently in We Happy Few, alongside violence. Following publisher Gearbox’s request for reevaluation however, the Classification Review Board decided instead to give the game an R 18+ with labeling that specifically informs purchasers of ‘fantasy violence and interactive drug use.’
In a statement shared by the review board, it was explained that games must keep drug use under a certain threshold to seek release in Australia, and, by the sounds of it, We Happy Few scraped by just under that line.
“The National Classification Code and Classification Guidelines requires the treatment of drug use to not exceed high at the R 18+ level,” reads the statement. “In the Classification Review Board’s opinion We Happy Few warrants an R 18+ classification because the interactive drug use is high in impact. The overall impact of the classifiable elements in the computer game was no greater than high.”