The game publisher behind the highly regarded Mortal Kombat video game series has announced it will appeal a decision by Australia’s classification board to ban the game’s sale in Australia, rejecting the argument that the title was more extreme than other games already on sale locally.
Original versions of the franchise have been available in Australia for more than a decade, but late last week the Australian Classification Board gave the Mortal Kombat remake a ‘Refused Classification’ rating, deeming the game’s violence outside the boundaries of the highest MA15+ rating which video games can fall under.
The board’s decision stated that the game contains violence which “goes beyond strong in impact” and is therefore unsuitable for those under the age of 18 to play — particularly noting Mortal Kombat’s famously gruesome ‘fatality’ finishing moves. The ban attracted immediate criticism from the gaming industry — which has long been campaigning for an R18+ rating locally.
“After careful consideration Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment Australia have decided to appeal to the Australian Classification Review Board against the RC (Refused Classification) decision given to Mortal Kombat,” the game’s publisher said today in a statement.
“After reviewing both the game play and the Board’s original decision, WBIE Australia believe the violence in the game is on par with numerous other titles readily available for sale in the Australian market. As such the company wants to exhaust all options to make the game available to Mortal Kombat fans in this country. An identical version of the game will be submitted for appeal.”
A number of other fighting titles are already on sale in Australia — with games like Street Fighter IV featuring similar gameplay to Mortal Kombat, although not all feature the same degree of realistic violence which the Classification Board found objectionable.
One organisation to comment on the issue last week was the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, which represents a number of video game manufacturers and distributors in Australia, including heavyweights such as Microsoft, Nintendo, Activision, Sony Computer Entertainment and more. The organisation has for several years been pushing for the introduction of an R18+ rating locally.
iGEA chief executive Ron Curry said the fact that another game “clearly designed and targeted at adults” had been refused classification again highlighted the shortcomings of the current classification scheme.
“As with many other forms of media, there is a demand and place for an adult themed narrative. We trust adults with this material in other media forms, yet deny them similar access simply because it’s a ‘game’. We would not accept the argument that because it’s “unsuitable for a minor to see or play” that it should therefore be banned in any other media form, so why video games?” he said.
In December, Australia’s Federal and State Attorneys-General — who are required to reach unanimous agreement on the need for an R18+ rating for it to be introduced — further postponed reaching a decision on the matter. The NSW election is expected to postpone any agreement further.
Image credit: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment Australia