Australia Joins Left 4 Dead 2 Boycott

Back, back boycotters.

You know you’ve hit a raw nerve when a goverment classification board decides to join a boycott of your game. So when Australia’s Classification board refuses a certification for Left 4 Dead 2 because Valve are RIPPING OFF THE KIDS you know you’ve… actually, no, I’ve misread this again. They’ve banned it because it’s a violent videogame and Australia has some of the most agreeably loopy censorship in the democratic world. Man!


  1. Mike says:

    There’s some pretty good back-of-the-box quotes to be had in there if you have a look.

    “Another fantastic edition of the finest zombie co-op” – Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

    ““it is the use of the melee weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.” – Australian Board of Games Classification

  2. sexyresults says:

    The real problem is that we don’t have an 18+ rating. And that comes down to the fact we have one Attorney General who is a complete . He will veto it EVERYTIME despite other people in goverment that are pro-18+.

    So we can’t really blame the OFLC for having to adhere to guidelines they don’t create.

    • jonfitt says:

      It’s because computer games are for children. Real Australian men should be spending their time drinking stubbies and restraining kangaroos.

      At least I think that’s what the Attorney General said.

    • Psychopomp says:


  3. sexyresults says:

    Hurray for borked tags and no edit

    it was meant to read

    “Attorney General who is a complete idiot.”

  4. Mort says:

    There is a trivially easy way round this though, right? It’s not like they’re not going to be able to play lfd2, it just won’t be sold on the shelves there. I didn’t think it had been banned as such, just refused clasificaiton. Banning would result in attempts to prevent it being played at all.

    • Bema says:

      They won’t be able to get it via Steam as it’ll be locked out for them. They can’t import it either because it’s illegal to import any game/film/whatever that has been refused classification. Option number 3: piracy.

  5. The_B says:

    Hang on, does that mean the Fly Gabe Newell fund will actually become a Fly Gabe Newell to be ARRESTED FOR CRIMES AGAINST AUSTRALIA Fund?

    • PHeMoX says:

      It would be hilarious if they would arrest him for that, but I doubt they will.

  6. MrBejeebus says:

    I still can’t believe how archaic AU censorship is.

  7. sexyresults says:

    We will most likely receive a ‘goreless’ version of the game.

  8. Metal_Circus says:

    Ron Gilbert said at his PAX keynote that Video Game censorship is just the worlds way of reacting horribly to brand new art forms by censoring something they clearly don’t understand. I know they don’t understand because they don’t know what joy our faveourite hobby can bring to us and what some video games teach us. Governments still think video games are toys for kids – remember when people thought comic books were just for kids too? Sigh.

    Australias censorship is agreeable loopy – it’s sad to say it, but this is another example of the intellectual, artistic and authoritarian elites of the world to take another swipe at a brand new art from that they stubbornly fail to understand.

  9. teo says:

    Australia needs to harden the fuck up:

  10. fearian says:

    I love the idea of Gabe Newell being brought into be questioned after turning up red flags in check in.

    • Railick says:

      For some reason I get the mental image of him being tied to a chair as he is questioned by a boxing kangaroo who kicks him in his chest every time he refuses to answer (I don’t know what the question is, it’s just a mental image not a mental picture show get off my back!)

  11. Stense says:

    Australia giving Valve a good booting I see. Did Valve call them asking which way their toilets flush or something?

  12. drewski says:

    Woo! Import tiem.

  13. Vinraith says:

    That’s just spectacularly stupid, no matter what your opinion of L4D2 might be otherwise. This business of Australia lacking an 18+ rating category has got to stop, but the kind of insanity that considers killing L4D’s infected “too violent” could stand to die off as well.

    • Railick says:

      You have to admit that chopping up a bunch of living dead bodies with a katana in the way they described is

      A)Freaking awesome!

      B)Really is pretty freaking violent for a video game.

      C)The one thing I’ve wanted in a video game since I played Soliders of Fortune when I was young and shot a dude’s brains out his mouth

      D)Another reason to boycott L4D2

      Take your pick of the above , mix and match if you please.

    • Vinraith says:

      I just remember when Carmageddon came out and some countries replaced the people you could mow down with zombies to make it “more acceptable.”

      It seems like, by degrees, things are getting sillier and sillier.

  14. Tei says:


    We all know that this is facism. A politician that is doing the wrong thing, because is a popular thing that will gain him some votes. Is not corruption, is worst than corruption. These people know there are violent movies on TV, and violent books in public librarys, but are attacking violent games because is a low hanging fruit.


    • Vinraith says:

      Yup. It’s worse than that, though. Because they lack an 18+ rating (the highest is 15+ IIRC) the problem is systemic. In other words, this kind of thing doesn’t require politicians after low hanging fruit to do anything, all they have to do is keep the rating system the way it is and censorship is the default. Finding a group of politicians brave enough to try to change that status quo for something as publicly frowned upon as video games is going to be quite difficult.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Try looking up what fascism is before using the word. Also, relax. It’s just a game. Incidentally, it’s also what I think Australia should realise, but hey.

    • Railick says:

      Fascism – 1) often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

      This would fall under “severe economic and social regimentation” and MAYBE forcible suppression of opposition. Still that is REALLY streching the meaning :P I don’t think fascism really applies here yet.

  15. Plushpants says:

    I think my favourite part in the whole sorry affair is a quote from the Classification Board’s report on Left4Dead 2.

    “The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 to play.”

    In their own report they highlight how stupid a system without an 18+ rating is. The content is inappropriate for those under 18, therefore no one is allowed to play it. Absurd.

    Also poignant is the fact that the Board’s decision was not unanimous. Clearly they can’t agree on how to apply their own rules.

    Heaven forbid that they force Valve to use Steam to ensure Australian gamers cannot use the usual methods to circumvent insane censorship, leaving them unable to play the game at all or having to settle for some shitty toned down version.

  16. Paul Moloney says:

    I’m not that familar with Australia, but being that it’s a country that hosts a famous gay Mardi Gras, is it – like the USA – a country horribly split between two wings?

    • Muzman says:

      Not really. More generally left wing, not that most people know it. On this issue there’s little split. In fact getting too excited about it would probably get you labelled a “wowser”. Most people would have no idea this goes on.

  17. tapanister says:

    LOL, I just realized the joke in the title. Heh.

  18. Doctor Doc says:

    Yay for pretending they got a choice!

  19. whalleywhat says:

    Fascism is a word with actual context and meaning. Throwing it around like it’s just a pejorative you can attach to something when you don’t like it is a wee bit annoying.
    That being said, this is pure Stalinist Authoritarianism on Australia’s part. Actually, it’s worse.

  20. Xercies says:

    Basically Australia has made illegal anything that “adults2 want to enjoy. Hurrey for censorship and rubbish certification issues. Though I guess its not as bad as china…

  21. Magic says:

    Its not fascism but populism i believe. But its still worse or at least as bad as corruption.

    I dont get why they dont have an 18+ rating. I cant think of any valid arguments for not to have one…

  22. phil says:

    Calling white coffee flat whites, discussing whose uncle had skin cancer that month and some of the heaviest censorship outside of places that routinely imprison journalists – three of the only bad things about Oz.

    On the brightside the bugs, sharks, dogs and snakes are so dangerous that just wandering around the country side feels like playing Tomb Raider.

  23. Blast Hardcheese says:

    I don’t get it.

    It may just be because I’m an American but isn’t pornography considered an adult act? What is it rated in Australia?

    Also, that report said the zombies were “alive”? No. Red blood does not mean a zombie lives. Blood does not turn green after a day.

    • WJonathan says:

      Hah, easy solution then: Make the blood green, and Australia gets its zombie games! Wow, problem solved, let’s clock out early and hit the Sizzler buffet!

    • Heliocentric says:

      L4D’s zombies are very much alive, just mad and mutated with airborne super rabies.

      I need to make a stock market mod where the zombies hold paper slips and run at you screaming buy or sell.

  24. autarch says:

    Do they not sell porno mags and videos down under? I have a hard time believing Australia really bans all adult entertainment.

    • Dominic White says:

      They have 18-ratings for other kinds of media. They just don’t have one for videogames, because videogames are for kids, so why would people over 18 want to buy them? Therefore, no rating is needed, because nobody would buy them anyway. Clearly that reasoning makes total sense.

    • theleif says:

      As i understand it they only lack a 18+ rating for games. They have it for movies and books.

  25. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    I need to leave this idiot country. Any room in the UK?

  26. Bobsy says:

    The Queen needs to step in. She’ll see things right.

    • Pie21 says:

      I must say, I’ve always pictured the Queen as an avid supporter of R-rated video games featuring excessive violence and gore.

  27. lumpi says:

    And thanks to the wonders of Steam, a centralized ban is easier than ever.

  28. The Dark One says:

    In the spirit of the ‘all sounds effects replaced with my voice’ mod, Valve should just change the game so that the Infected are magical piñatas.

    • lumpi says:

      Don’t give them ideas for self-censorship. The German version of TF2 has exactly that. No blood, gibs are replaced by rubber ducks and hamburgers. I KID YOU NOT.

      It’s… cute… if you only see it once and out of curiousity. But if it’s mandatory for a 40-year old player, and the game STILL has a 18+ sticker (the size of a quarter of the packaging) on it… it quickly becomes less funny.

      Gamers are still treated like children. It’s pathetic and just shows how behind some countries are when it comes to modern media. Let’s hope the conservatives with their “family values” don’t win the elections. The same reasoning used in the US to compare Obama to Hitler is used in Germany to compare violent video games to high school massacres. Essentially, they’re the same.

  29. Derf says:

    Just an FYI… this isn’t a “democratic world”.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      When we say “The PC Gaming world” we don’t mean “The entire world is about PC gaming” but “the part of the world which is about PC gaming”. Apply that to “the democratic world”.

  30. Kadayi says:

    I hope they resolve this

  31. qx says:

    Death to the Australian government.

  32. Jambe says:

    Does the word agreeable mean something different in British English than in my native American? I think you Brits just use it in a strange way.

    Kieron probably meant “people agree that it is loopy”, right? But I read him as “their loopiness is agreeable to me”, which is a totally different meaning. *shrug* Language is interesting.

    Yeah, them Oz governors are screwy, and the populace be damned for not ousting them.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I was experimenting with irony.


    • Clippit says:

      Oust them in favour of what; anarchy? We already have enough of that (in the corporate world) and who gets screwed? The same people who always do.

      The real problem is not having a vigourous democratic process. By this I mean we have two major parties which are essentially the same. Their rhetoric tends ever so slightly to the left or right, but since they don’t have a strong ideological base, the result pretty much the same. They’re both conservative and want to sell lots of coal to China, and everything else is pursued in a half-arsed manner.

      It’s stable, which is nice, but it’s also very boring and hence the population is disengaged (as they are in other “mature” democracies). This is why we don’t have an 18+ classification for games, and why there’s no action on global warming – without pressure from a major industry, things move very slowly down here.

    • Jambe says:

      I see that now, Kieron. I’m simply not used to seeing the word played on like that. *shrug*

      And you’re quite right, Clippit, that’s how it is in the USA as well. I was talking generally, though, i.e. an individual’s complacency within a (supposedly) democratic system of governance earns them officials who govern moronically (with goofy media censorship in this case).

      Regards the global warming stuff… Ugh. Nobody argues against the warming trend, but plenty of people argue against the IPCC’s attribution of the warming to anthropogenic causes, and still more are generally disgusted with the sensationalist faddism infecting and complicating legitimate climate science. I don’t like the whole affair one bit.

    • Muzman says:

      Plenty of people have denied global warming exists, quite prominently as well. And I hope like hell it is anthropogenic (and haven’t seen much that could suggest it isn’t) because if it’s not we can’t do anything about it and are basically screwed.

  33. dhex says:

    “No blood, gibs are replaced by rubber ducks and hamburgers.”

    that sounds kinda awesome, actually. (obviously i’m not a tf2 player)

    “Calling white coffee flat whites”

    out of curiosity, what does this mean?

    “I don’t think fascism really applies here yet.”

    that’s an understatement, to be sure. but ratings boards (whether government run or “voluntary” a la the MPAA) are probably not ever going to go anywhere, sadly, so we’re stuck with them. sure, i’d like to live in a world without mandatory ratings boards for media but i’d like all sorts of pointless gubmint stuff to go away, and i’m probably not getting any of those wishes either.

    • The Dark One says:

      You can get something similar if the server you’re on enables party mode. Of course, that also adds paper hats and floating balloons instead of blood.

  34. Heliocentric says:

    I’d like to assure austraillian readers that the censorship will sort itself out once all the old people die. But, in oz i don’t think that is the problem, i think the concept that games are bad is so far into the culture that you might as well build a raft from drift wood and the bloated corpses of your local elected representatives and try and escape to civilisation.

  35. El_MUERkO says:

    I wonder if Gabe and Co. can go to Austrialianiaa without getting sent down for fiddling with the kiddies minds?

  36. FuzzDad says:

    Seems to me this is PERFECT advertising and will drive word of mouth even farther towards Valve’s bank balance. Since Valve can fairly easily make a non-violent version it seems to me they have a win-win here.

  37. We Fly Spitfires says:

    Wow, that’s insane. I know it’s a zombie game but is it really that violent or crazy? Bizarre.

  38. Bookiegnu says:

    Slightly off-topic, and as an Aussie of course this enrages me, but:

    @ Phil (and less so at dhex):
    They’re called flat whites so you know how much froth you’re getting. If you don’t want froth, but do want hot milk, order a flat white. If you want froth, order a latte. If you want black coffee with a small jug of milk, ask for it. If you want to be tossy, order a half strength soy chai latte.

  39. wat says:

    Option #4:
    1. Get one of them Proxy things for your Interweb
    2. Create a Steam account with a fake US address. Use the Interwebs to create authentic addresses.
    3. Order via the Steam website using your fake account, using a credit card
    4. Gift the order to your real Steam account
    5. Uncut and uncensored gaming (and at US prices)

    I have to do that all the time as I live in that other country over in Europe which also hates video games, and so far it worked just fine for me.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I would have loved to have done that many times. But aren’t you running the risk of the proxy listening in on your transaction? Also the risk that they will realise you address isn’t legit?

      I’ve been looking at all the $5 D2D titles and i would love to buy many of them, but fucking ubi(who are french) only want to sell to america, same with many titles. Also, EA games on steam (not available in the uk).

    • wat says:

      Shouldn’t be a problem as the Steam purchase process is encrypted. Of course you’ll have to use a proxy which allows you to tunnel HTTPS (SOCKS proxy instead of good ol’ HTTP). Take this with a bit of salt though, as I simply use a server of mine in the US as a proxy.

      As for the address not being legit, I never had any problems with that. Just chose an address for some huge apartment complex with 500 tenants or so. That’s also why you gift the game to your real account which has your real address, so even if your fake account gets deleted for whatever reason your actual account wouldn’t be affected.

      Of course when in doubt, you could simply use an actual friend in the US (if you know somebody you trust), and it’d be completely legitimate. This will also act as your excuse when using a fake account, although I doubt Valve would even care – After all, they’re making a sale that would otherwise be impossible.

      In fact, Valve’s behavior in this matter is kind of silly. In fact only a tiny fraction of the games that they aren’t allowed to sell over here are actually blocked for me, so I can still make a ton of purchases that would be illegal:
      – The Orange Box which includes a cut version of TF2 and HL2EP2 but got an 18+ rating due to including an uncut version of HL2
      – L4D, which was uncut for people who preordered but heavily cut for those who got it after the release, leading to tons of confusion within the community
      – Any game (indy games, old stuff) that has no official rating and therefore defaults to 18
      – Dawn of War which is uncut in terms of violence but simply had the English voice acting removed
      – …

      I wish Valve would just drop the act, or implement an age verification system that allows you to upgrade your account to some kind of “18+” status. Oh, and clearly marking censored games as such would be nice, I’m tired of refunding purchases just because it turns out that half the game was cut by overzealous self-censorship.

  40. A-Scale says:

    Why aren’t the good felon descendants of Australia more outraged about this? Who in the hell is the government to tell an adult what they may or may not see/play?

  41. Nano says:

    Well, we’re an easy-going country, for the most part. It’s just too damn hot to get worked up about anything, so we instead we invent incomprehensible slang to mess with the tourists.

    But for the love of god, Atkinson, lighten the hell up. You’re making us look bad by mere association.

  42. Sacred_flame101 says:

    Being australian banning lfd2 doesn’t bother me much as i was unlikely to buy it anyway but the amount of good looking games that are banned here is a pain in the ass any game that looks like it might be allot of fun gets banned then if they want to sell it here they have to tone it down its so stupid.

    The people of australia demand an +18 rating

    Anyway here is a link to a petition for anyone whos interested: link to

    • A-Scale says:

      The issue here is that the average Aussie gamer seems to care only if it was a game he or she intended to play. That’s sensible from a short term point of view, but in the end it means that no one game has the full support of the gaming public to prevent it being banned. What was that old Voltaire quote again? I disagree with what you have to say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. Without that attitude the government is certain to divide and conquer games, and thereby basic freedom of speech.

    • Muzman says:

      It’s true people ought to be more aware of this. But it’s more frustrating than outrageous. Free speech isn’t really under any sort of threat, but we do have worryingly censorious past regarding lots of things of which this is an echo (mixed with “think of the children!” about the mysterious potency to warp minds that common sense apparently says games posess).
      I think people should be bugging their local Labor member, if they have one, about the party’s censorship policy.

      Incidentally, Voltaire never actually said that. He may well have thought it, but “to the death” is far too melodramatic for him I’d say.

    • A-Scale says:

      That all really depends on how one defines free speech. I consider games to be a media no less than books or television, so I consider banning any piece of content at the state level to be an attack on free speech. As to contacting one’s Labour representative, I can’t imagine why one would bother. They’ve shown their dedication to tyrannical state control and should be summarily voted out because of it. Frankly I would hope that we would have strung such people up long ago Stateside.

    • Muzman says:

      That would bring the Libs back in which wouldn’t neccessarily help either. Besides, it’s got to be the mildest Tyrannical State Control history has ever seen.
      While restrictions on expression like ths are less than ideal, it’s only annoying in this instance. Atkinson won’t lose his seat next election and the party will probably be returned to South Australian government. About the only ways to stop him at this point are; he changes portfolios; the law is changed federally, Atkinson is brought to heel by the party nationally for stepping outside their censorship policy.
      I expect they’re probably a bit vague on that too, but the last part is something complaints and publicity could have an effect on. And maybe a petition, but it would have to be a very good one (like on paper).

    • A-Scale says:

      “Besides, it’s got to be the mildest Tyrannical State Control history has ever seen.”

      Mild you say? The freedoms of the Australian people are being wrested from them one by one in a way that it will be incredibly difficult to get them back. State encroachments into private life aren’t a matter of voting one party out and another in. They set precedent for future and more suffocating changes, but occur at a plodding pace such that no one gets too hot about it.

      And as to how mild they are, recall that Hitler didn’t start murdering people straight away either. The taking of the means of revolution is the first and biggest step on the road to tyranny (which today means guns). The good people of Kangarooland couldn’t wrest control away from the state even if they all wanted to. That is a very, very bad thing.

    • Muzman says:

      Now you’re just being silly.
      There’s no freedoms being wrested away from anyone. Current ratings regulation does not include video games equally. That’s it.
      There’s no precedents being set that 200yrs worth of free speech precedent wouldn’t crush in heartbeat should anyone try and apply it elsewhere (there’s no precedent being set at all).
      You were the one who said they should be voted out anyway, so why you’ve turned on the idea of replacing one party with another is beyond me.
      I’m not quite sure how depriving us of Left 4 Dead 2 robs us of the means to revolt either, for all that (extrapolating to that extent tends to gloss over a few important steps I find). However if we did invade New Zealand it could be a very populist move.

    • Sacred_flame101 says:

      look the only reason i am unlikely to play this is that my comp just sucks balls but if i could run it i would anyway i think the reference to Hitler is a bit of an overreaction (our government isn’t going to kill millions of people or take away a groups rights) but i understand what you are saying

      I agree that we all need to do something but as others before me have said many of us don’t have the power to vote out the few people that oppose a +18 rating and we wont be able to do much untilll the next election

  43. luminosity says:

    I’m not even sure what the real problem is.. maybe it’s multiple ones.

    It’s stupid that we need a unanimous agreement from every state to get a rating for the country — if one person votes no, then just let their state not be subject? Or allow majority rules — you know, that whole democracy thing.

    The whole interactive experience being worse than a passive one. Films in the cinema can get away with things they’ll never allow games to get away with at the same rating.

    Or that Michael Atkinson is allowed by his party to keep voting no to the rating, even though their policy, as I understand, is to vote yes.

    Maybe it’s that they regard infected as living human beings, despite being zombies? Yes, I know they are infected humans, but.. they’re not exactly easily mistakable with someone you’d meet on the street now are they?

    Argh. The whole thing just sucks. Here’s hoping EA get them to change their minds, we get an uncensored version on Steam, or we can mod the censored version we get to be the uncensored one. All of which are ridiculous, but there you go.

  44. FiddleSticks says:

    I don’t get the concept of governments banning specific instances of media. In Canada essentially everything is legal and accessible (assuming stores stock it) unless it is illegal (say, child porn). We have rating boards, but material does not have to be submitted to them to be sold and it is only once in a blue moon that they may actually ban something. I think the only time something was banned recently was some movie that depicted fairly graphic simulated sex between underaged characters.

    On the other hand I have to go to a government run liquor store to buy alcohol and, officially, I cannot drink in public.

    I think the accessibility of media here is influenced by the supremacy of free speech in The States.

  45. Leperous says:

    This is all the more tragic as Australia has R18+ and X18+ certificates for films.

    Perhaps this will all get fixed once the classification board blocks the entire Steam store (& Amazon etc.) for selling such unclassified games?

  46. Lack_26 says:

    I wonder how many Australians pirate games, and what proportion of the piracy that is ‘killing games’ is made up by people who can’t actually buy the game due to publisher or local restrictions.

    • vagabond says:

      Historically , I think the supposed above average piracy rate in Australia (and I think this largely involves films, but probably translates to games as well) can be explained by taking a country that has one of the highest early adopter rates for new technologies in the world, and then not releasing stuff to them for a good 3-6 months after the rest of the world has it.

      There are very few games, that large numbers of people might actually want to buy, that get Refused Classification. The OFLC clearly has some gamers on their board though, as stuff that clearly should be an 18+ gets by with a 15+ (hence the minority opinion here).

  47. jared says:

    hi from aus. we love games we only have one or 2 ppl in govornment that hate them and unfortunatly if u dont live in there electorate you can do bugger all about it. the others dont realy care but it only takes one extreem point of vew saying kids will die of a drug overdose from ppl playing games with morphen in them (the big problem with fallout3 in aus). allso on fallout 3 whitch we can play without morphen i can stop time and using a sledgehammer make a gouhl (still human still alive (currently the l4d2 zomby problem)) become meat salad in super slowmo watching brains and limbs fly all over.
    there is no consistancy. thats the problem

  48. Lack_26 says:

    A-Scale, I swear you’re using Voltaire to death. I think I’d only be willing to die for something if ordered to by a superior officer, but since I’m a civilian I wont be doing that too soon. (Although I’d probably think of a reason not to die if it got to that.)

    Mind you, I’m unswervingly loyal to whomever is in charge. (This message may contain one or more pieces of sarcasm, interpret with care.)

    • A-Scale says:

      I misunderstand your potential sarcasm as regards my using Voltaire to death, but the rest of your dry sarcasm is well met.

      PS the new RPS permits replies directly to comments.

  49. Fedora.Pirate says:

    Not really I’m afraid as there’s no real news or controversy here, so the only people who’ll know about it are those who would probably buy it anyway; some of which now won’t if it’s a toned down version.

  50. jeffb says:

    People complaining about the OFLC need to wake up, it hasn’t existed for more than 2 years now…

    As for the “ban”, the game will more than likely be resubmitted for review to get an M15 rating, exactly the same thing would have happen had the game got an R18 rating.