Yesterday it was revealed that Starbreeze’s Syndicate reboot had been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, effectively banning it from sale within the country. Today, EA released an official response deriding the decision, and urging swifter policy changes.
“It’s regrettable that government policy in Australia is denying adults the right to play Syndicate,” said an EA rep in a statement to press, adding, “The game will be not be available in Australia despite its enthusiastic response from fans.”
The reaction comes two days after the Classification Board released its report on Syndicate, calling the titled “unsuitable for a minor” due in part to the game’s excessive violence, realistic portrayals of dismemberment and decapitation, and a cooperative gameplay mechanic which rewards players for civilian casualties. The report concluded Syndicate’s content exceeded Australia’s maximum 15+ rating requirements, and therefore had no place on retail shelves.
Earlier this year, the country’s Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor led the charge to draft an in-principle agreement to create an R18+ rating at a federal level. While a promising first step, the Classification Branch’s Manager of Applications, David Emery, recently clarified it could be years before the mature rating is officially adopted, explaining, “There is legislation that’s been put to Parliament about the changes…What happens next is a long process again — it’s probably going to take another couple of years before you’re actually going to get an R18 that you can apply for, like a conventional classification that you have today.”
EA acknowledged the proposed revision in today’s response, adding, “We were encouraged by the government’s recent agreement to adopt an 18+ age rating for games. We urge policy makers to take swift action to implement an updated policy that reflects today’s market and gives its millions of adult consumers the right to make their own content choices.”
In short, there will be no Syndicate for Australia anytime soon… but maybe a 2014 Special Edition?