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RimWorld pulled from sale on Steam in Australia, as an affront to public morality, decency, and propriety

On the bright side, apparently RimWorld is coming to consoles?

A bloody battle in a RimWorld screenshot.
Image credit: Ludeon Studios
Sci-fi colony management survival sim RimWorld is a cracking thing, with your efforts built upon on (and stymied by) a deep simulation of everyone's minds and bodies. It's a game which generates great stories, often delightful, often horrifying. This appears to have got it in trouble. Australia's classification board last week gave RimWorld a rating of RC—Refused Classification. As a result, the game is no longer available to buy on Steam in Australia, though folks who already own it can still play.

Australia's Classification Board last week slapped an RC rating on RimWorld, an act which seemingly also leaked news that console versions are coming (the devs have since talked about this as "a potential console version"). While the listing is no longer public, Internet archives show it explained:

The computer game is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1. (a) as computer games that "depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified."

In the case of RimWorld, I think you can replace every "or" with an "and". The simulation of mind and body is such that you can, if you want, 'despine' prisoners "as a safety precaution" to strip their organs before eventual excecution or create killsquads of densitised child soldiers who murder their parents. You know, RimWorld stuff. If you want. And that's without getting into the wonders/horrors of drugs, which Australian censors so often frown on.

With a classification outright refused, they can't sell it. But this rating did not only apply to the presumed upcoming console versions. Evidently (and unusually) it's retroactive, because Steam no longer sells the game in Australia.

"We did not expect this to affect the Steam version because in previous similar cases, as with Disco Elysium for example, an RC rating on a console version did not affect the availability of the PC version on Steam. We're not sure why this decision was made in RimWorld's case," the devs said in an announcement over the weekend.

"I'm sorry this news was so sudden and for anyone who is frustrated by this. We are working to resolve this situation and make RimWorld available to everyone again as soon as possible, but we don’t yet know what that might require or how long it may take."

They also clarified that Steam keys don't work in Australia, so folks can't buy a Steam key from their website then redeem it. People in Australia can't use gift copies either. But Australianauts can still buy a DRM-free version from the developers and apparently it's still sold on GOG too.

Across the years, we've called RimWorld one of the best building games, management games, and survival games on PC. It was bolstered by the great Royalty expansion in 2020, then in 2021 had the Ideologies DLC where Nate, uh, "forced drifters to smoke crack and knife-fight a unicorn". Yeah, Australia's censors tend not to be super into that.

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.