Over four times as many games have been banned in Australia in the last four months as were banned in the entirety of the period between 1994-2014.
ABC reports that around 220 games have been banned since March, the majority of which are mobile titles. By contrast only 50 titles were banned in the 20 years before that.
Banned titles include such memorable hits as Douchebag Beach Club, Drunk Driver and HoboSimulator.
The change comes following the government’s decision to begin classifying digital games. The result? "It is not realistic or practicable for the Classification Board to manually classify each of … [the] hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of games currently available online," a spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s Department said of the Classifications Board’s capacity.
As of today, Australia is piloting participation of the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) tool for classifying online titles. IARC is already used in the UK, US and much of Europe. A decision on its permanent implementation will be taken after 12 months.
"If you look at some storefronts that exclusively do digital, over the last year they released about 180,000-200,000 titles," Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) CEO Ron Curry said.
"If you look at the Classification Board, they’re doing about 400 Classifications a year, so you can see there is a big gap between what they are doing and what’s been released. The good thing about IARC is because it’s a global system, it doesn’t need to be a family in Melbourne that sees a problem with it, it could be a family in Munich who highlight it.
"And if it’s highlighted in Germany, for example, and the classification is changed in Germany, or anywhere else in the world, every other jurisdiction will be notified."
Australia is notorious for its strict game censorship rulings. Titles that have fallen foul of the censor’s axe include Hotline Miami 2, State of Decay and Risen. Other games, such as South Park: The Stick of Truth, The Witcher 2 and Saints Row IV have been released after specific content has been edited out – in the latter’s case, an anal probe.
Even when censors don’t act, the ingrained aversion to adult content can at times lead to third party action, such as Kmart and Target’s decision last year to remove GTA V from store shelves.
Australia finally introduced an R18+ adult game age rating in 2013. Prior to that all games seemed unsuitable for its M15+ certificate were banned by default.