Good news for Australian Grand Theft Auto fans. On the 31st July 2013 the Australian Classification Board granted the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V a R18+ rating.
It is understood that the Australian version of the same game is the same as the international release.
This decision avoids the annoying issue that both Australians and New Zealanders experienced with the last Grand Theft Auto game, both countries receiving a specially censored Australasian version of Grand Theft Auto IV. This resulted in many fans ordering the uncensored version of the game from overseas.
In New Zealand the uncensored version of GTA IV was eventually made legally available due to a retailer submitting the international version to The Office of Film & Literature Classification. Bizarrely, the Australian censors later gave the unrated PC version of GTA IV and MA15+ classification without any issues.
Whilst the Australian Classification Boards decision on GTA V is welcome, it raises eyebrows regarding the difficulties that the much more tongue-in-cheek Saint’s Row IV has had in gaining a classification. Saint’s Row IV has been denied classification due to drug use twice. It has recently been reported that a special censored Australian version has been granted an MA15+ rating.
The Australian version of Saint’s Row IV has removed a mission featuring ability-enhancing drug-taking. The Australian Classification board traditionally take a dim view of any type of drug-use that grants players special abilities or other positive effects. The recent Australian ratings issue with the Xbox Live Arcade zombie-fest, State of Decay, was down to the use of legal and illicit real-wold drugs to heal players and augment abilities.
Australian gamers lobbied for years to get the R18+ classification applied to videogames, with the first R18+ rating granted to Ninja Gaiden 3 earlier this year. The absence of the R18+ rating for games meant that a adult-orientated title could easily be refused classification. Adult games, rated 18+ overseas, where often given the totally inappropriate MA15+ rating, enabling them to be sold to Australian minors.