EA’s Syndicate reboot game banned in Australia


blog It looks like the agreement by Australian State and Federal Governments on an R18+ rating for video games hasn’t quite kicked in yet. Video games giant EA has confirmed news broken by Kotaku yesterday (further reports at Ausgamers, Kotaku and Gamespot) that its reboot of the classic Syndicate game being planned for next year has been refused classification in Australia and won’t go on sale. The company’s statement:

“It’s regrettable that government policy in Australia is denying adults the right to play Syndicate. The game will be not be available in Australia despite its enthusiastic response from fans. We were encouraged by the government’s recent agreement to adopt an 18+ age rating for games. However, delays continue to force an arcane censorship on games – cuts that would never be imposed on books or movies. 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.”

I don’t know a lot about EA’s new version of the game, but Syndicate is a classic of dark science fiction that many video gamers of my generation loves when we were teenagers. I’d be keen to check out any reboot of the series, if only for nostalgia’s sake. The fact that the game has now been banned in Australia will only increase interest in the game, in my opinion; and the imports from eBay and other places will kick off as soon as the game is released internationally. Lastly, a quick message for Australia’s governments on the pending R18+ rating: Can we get this done already?

Image credit: EA


  1. I kinda feel sorry for EA here (unusual), since this is bound to drive piracy along with the grey imports … There’s little they can do about it, but it’s a a pain in the arse all round.

  2. This will be interesting to watch.

    Now that EA has their Steam-clone, Origin, there’s a real chance that grey imports won’t work as the CD keys will be region coded so they won’t activate on an Australian account.

    If that turns out to be the case, the only practical way to play this game in Australia will be to pirate it.

    So while the Classification Board decision is bad (but only bad because the backwards laws in which it operates), the piracy issue is really also going to be shared with EA because they made you jump through so many hoops when you do legitimately purchase a game of theirs.

    • >>Now that EA has their Steam-clone, Origin, there’s a real chance that grey imports won’t work as the CD keys will be region coded so they won’t activate on an Australian account.

      Just do as everyone did when L4D was nerfed in Australia. Get someone from a different region to buy the game and gift it.

      • It might be Origin only and so gifting might not be an option or not work the same way as on Steam.

    • They’ll just pirate.

      Sad, but DRM can always be bypassed unless a fundamental feature of the game is unavailable. (IE WOW can’t be “pirated” because the fundamental feature is the online-gameplay and character persistence).

      Origins DRM is/will be no different. If they hard-region-lock, they will lose *more* people to piracy. (though, it might be a bad statistic, since some people may buy it out-of-region on origin, find they can’t play it, then pirate it… though I suspect those numbers will be low).

      People that know how to bypass region locks by and large have an idea if the money they are spending will work or not.

  3. I think that EA may have just jumped the gun by a bit. If I recall correctly the final descriptor hasn’t been agreed to by the SCAG and the necessary legislation has not been amended. as yet.

  4. …I wonder if EA will sue the Australian Government now for forcing us into downloading pirated copies

    • No, they will release their own Torrent for this game and track down-loaders to sue.

  5. If only the R18+ legislative work also had an impact on making it feasible for Microsoft to operate the Indie Games part of XBox Live here… I almost wish that mobile app stores also fell foul of the legislation that prevents non-classified console games from being published; I imagine the combination of Apple, Google and Microsoft wrt their mobile app stores might get some legislation moving!

  6. the original syndicate was a hoot & a few uni assignements were late as a result … Lets hope now that the carbon tax is out of the way the importnat stuff like R18+ classification for games gets through

  7. We live in a Nanny state, trying to protect us from ourselves. The fact that movie’s like Saw 1-6 and Hostile 1-3 are available in the average movie stores is a joke when you compare them to games with violence. They already proven violent games do not cause violence or we’d have a crime wave on our hands with all the kids playing Call of Duty. We pay Burecrates to watch adult movie’s in Canberra and rate a few hundred a year that are then allowed to be sold in ‘some’ adult stores. Talk about wasteful government. We need limited government not this big nanny state with 60%+ tax on the high incomes earners just to pay for it.

    • The death throws of an old world aristocracy that has been caught flat footed by the internet.

  8. Well instead of destroying their own games (Dragon Age 2 anyone?) EA have had it done for them here. Quel irony…

    Looks like another reason for our ex SAS mate at the ACL to go back to his previous incarnation as a government trained attackbot in real life rather than in Syndicateland…

  9. Australia has recently passed the law that we can have 18+ games but it doesnt come into affect untill next year so we will still miss out on this game….. well…. I wont… TPB FTW

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