For Australian gamers eagerly anticipating a local release of the much-loved and critically-acclaimed open-world zombie survival title State of Decay, it seems you’ll be anticipating a bit longer. Developer Undead Labs announced on their official forums that the Australian Classification Board has refused classification of State of Decay, and won’t be infecting Australian Xbox 360 consoles anytime soon. Here’s the entire post:
Hola Australian State of Decay fans,
I have bad news to share: State of Decay has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board (ACB). We’ve run afoul of certain prohibitions regarding the depiction of drug use. We’re working with Microsoft to come up with options, including changing names of certain medications in the game to comply with ratings requirements. Whatever our path forward, it’s going to take a bit.
I know this is frustrating — believe me, we’re frustrated too — but each country has the right to set its own rules about content, and it’s our responsibility to comply with them. Rest assured we’ll do everything we can to find a way to get the game into your hands. Stay tuned.
Releasing earlier this month everywhere in the world except down under, State of Decay has been praised for its focus on survival gameplay mechanics and teamwork driven progression systems. This news arrives shortly after the announcement that Saint’s Row IV was also refused classification.
For now we can only hope that Undead Labs and Microsoft can work together with the Australian Classifications Board to bring an adjusted version of the game to our consoles. This is especially disappointing considering that State of Decay broke XBLA sales records shortly after release and the developers have already stated that they plan to release an MMO as a follow-up to the original game.
The Classification Board has supplied IGN with a report that outlines the reason State of Decay was refused classification at this time.
The game contains the option of self-administering a variety of “medications” throughout gameplay which act to restore a player’s health or boost their stamina. These “medications” include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, codeine, aspirin, “trucker pills”, painkillers and tussin. Of these, methadone, morphine, and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term “stimulant” is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed.
Players obtain drugs by scavenging for them in the environment or by manufacturing them in a “Medical Lab”. When players find drugs in the environment the name of the drug appears onscreen and the drug is also represented by a visual icon such as a pill bottle or syringe. Within the “Medical Lab” players are prompted to make substances such as “Potent Stims”, “Mild Stims” and “Painkillers”. The laboratory includes a “research library” and “chemical dictionary”.
When administering drugs, the player is briefly depicted moving a pill bottle toward their mouth. The sound of pills rattling in the bottle accompanies the depiction. The name of the drug appears onscreen along with its representative icon. Consumption of the drug instantly increases a player’s in-game abilities allowing them to progress through gameplay more easily. The Applicant has stated that a “player can choose not to make any drugs or scavenge for them, but it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication”.
In the Board’s opinion, the game enables the player’s character to self-administer proscribed drugs which aid in gameplay progression. This game therefore contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and should be Refused Classification.
Asked by IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey via Twitter whether changing the names of the in-game drugs is something Undead Labs would look at, executive producer Jeff Strain replied, “That’s certainly one option we’re considering.”