Why Saints Row IV was refused classification

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CNET Editor

Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

News broke yesterday that Saint's Row IV would be the first video game to be given the rating of Refused Classification under the recently introduced R18+ ratings system.

(Credit: Deep Silver/Volition)

The title received the decision primarily on the basis of "interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence, which are not justified by context", but also thanks to "elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards".

At the time, the specifics of this content were unknown. However, a copy of the Classification Board's report was obtained by Kotaku, revealing that an "alien anal probe" weapon was the main culprit.

The report states that "the lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt, and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon".

After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim's anus, the area around their buttocks becomes pixellated, highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim's anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians.

This, along with "alien narcotics" that imbue the player's character with superpowers after being smoked, resulted in the Refused Classification ruling.

While we await comment from the developer or local distributor of the game, the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) has issued a media release regarding the Refused Classification ruling.

The IGEA issued its media release before the board's report came to light, and thus stated that it couldn't comment on the validity of the decision, as it wasn't "privy to the specific content of the game" on which the RC was based. However, the release does say:

Under the new guidelines ... we also must accept that there will be some video games which will fall outside the scope of the R18+ guidelines. Whether we agree or not with this specific classification, it highlights that the classification system is functioning as it should and that R18+ was never meant to open the "floodgates" for all types of content.

The statement does seem to leave open the possibility that a resubmission of Saint's Row IV could see a different decision be made. Acknowledging that the IGEA is "confident that the Classification Board is applying the new guidelines as they see appropriate", its report concludes with:

we ... recognise that with any change to a system as subjective and complex as applying classification guidelines, there will always be a "settling in" period where all stakeholders strive to find an appropriate middle ground. Currently, we're at the "high water" mark, where there's a natural inclination to err on the side of caution.

However, given the nature of the content on which the Refused Classification ruling was made, it seems that some major edits to the gameplay would be required for a change in the board's decision.

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TylerS3 posted a comment   

I find it really funny how Destory all humans was rated M and had a alien anal probe in it. The other things in SRIV likely are just things from the other MA rated games.


Katanyavich posted a comment   

I will NOT tolerate being told what I can and cannot play, by anyone, under any circumstances. I'll be downloading this solely to defy this filthy government and its Draconian censorship. To hell with censorship, and to hell with this useless government. I refuse point-blank to comply with BS laws like this one.


MarkW6 posted a comment   

My response to the classification bullshit.

Hello, fellow AUSSIE or not fellow AUSSIE who knows nowadays?

Australia is a free country meaning that adults can and should be able/allowed to make their own decisions on what they will and won't play! These recent banning's are complete and utter bull! We made the R18 rating so we could have the higher rated games, but once again the public gets screwed over by the government. Saints Row IV in particular should definitely not be banned! The whole reason of this is because ALL OF THE **** SAINTS ROW'S HAVE HAD STRONG INTERACTIVE SEXUAL AND DRUG THEMES. AND have been sometimes centred around these themes yet they were not banned... this leads to the question... by adding the new classifications etc... we are banning games that would not have previously been banned. SO why are games that should be put under R18 being banned? make a new rating like X to include the games or even R21 !!!! it's completely astonishing how much the AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC gets screwed over nowadays, especially because Australia is suppose to be a FREE COUNTRY which Australia IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT!! AND HAS NOT BEEN FOR MANY YEARS!!

I would like a reply to this! Sorry for the explicit language.

message them here!


ChewmadbroC posted a comment   

lol bunch of retards at the board need to lighten the fuk up. They arent even gamers, why give them the right to choose what other adult gamers should be able to play? If stupid $hit in video games offend you then you should just end you pathetic life.

fuking donald mcdonald. How bout we have ronald mcdonald shove a fuking big mac up your a$$


DomM posted a comment   

running down the street as a naked gold statue and attacking someone with a 3ft dildo was the most fun i'd had on SR3.

Bring it on SR4


MitchL2 posted a comment   

As long as it doesn't involve causing harm to children/shooting up schools or airports, I don't think these things are of real major concern. But I don't care either way.


ei_samus posted a comment   

Major edits? You mean remove one weapon and get creative with the naming of the alien drug substance. As much as I hate censorship, including the ability to anally rape civilians is hardly a smart move by the developers.


ChewmadbroC posted a reply   

anally raping someone with a fuking alien probe is going to make me a serial killer?

completely ridiculous logic. Its a fuking video game, if you cant handle animated pixels on a screen then you need to eat spoon full of concrete and harden the fuk up


ClaudioM posted a reply   

Why does everyone think we are implying that this is going to create serial killers? We aren't saying that, however this sort of content is just wrong (not commenting on the alien drugs) and sexual assault and/or rape just shouldn't be in a game, period.


scyleung posted a comment   

That's it! I am moving out of here!

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