"Arcane" rating system denies Syndicate reboot in Australia: EA

Lack of an R18+ rating cited as reason, though New Zealand release is on track

Despite high expectations by fans for Starbreeze Studios' reboot of the venerable Syndicate franchise as a first person shooter, the game has been denied release in Australia.

The game, to be published by Electronic Arts, has been Refused Classification (RC) due to its depiction of excessive violence.

As a result of the ruling, Electronic Arts will not be releasing Syndicate in Australia citing the lack of an R18+ rating for video games.

"It's regrettable that government policy in Australia is denying adults the right to play Syndicate", Electronic Arts A/NZ PR manager, Snezana Stojanovska, said.

"The game will be not be available in Australia despite its enthusiastic response from fans".

While Stojanovska admits that Electronic Arts is "encouraged" by the government's recent agreement to adopt an 18+ age rating for games, delays are resulting in an "arcane censorship" on games and 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", Stojanovska added.

According to Stojanovska, Electronic Arts will not be appealing the RC decision as Syndicate is a game "made for a mature audience" and any changes to would "significantly affect" its quality and appeal.

Grow Up Australia founder, Aaron J. Percival, whose group has been lobbying the Australian government for an R18+ rating, sees the banning of Syndicate as another reason why the rating system desperately needs the additional classification category.

"It's disappointing that Australia continues to lag behind the rest of the world by being the only developed nation without an 18+ classification for video games", he said.

Percival expects that mature games such as Syndicate will continue to be Refused Classification until the government implements changes to the current classification guidelines.

"The Federal Government released a set of amended guidelines in November, but last month's cabinet reshuffle saw Brendan O'Connor replaced by Jason Clare as Minister of Home Affairs, which could mean further delays in what has already been an incredibly drawn out process", he added.

The New Zealand release of Syndicate will remain on schedule for 24 February, with a confirmed R18 rating and no changes to the content.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

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