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Mortal Kombat: the NZ situation

28 Feb 11

Mortal Kombat has been refused a classifications rating in Australia, and local distributor Fiveight currently awaits the nail-biting local decision from the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification.

This is far from the first time that games have failed to receive a classification in Australia, a country that does not enjoy the luxury of an R18 rating for video games. In Australia, the maximum classification rating for a video game is MA15+, which effectively means that any game deemed inappropriate for players aged 15 and under will not be released. In the past, this has effected the release of such games as Grand Theft Auto IV and Left 4 Dead 2, the Australian versions of which were subsequently modified after first failing classification. It's even affected at least one worldwide release, with Bethesda altering content for the global release of Fallout 3 following its classification failure in Australia.

In the past, the Australian situation has also caused grief for us here in New Zealand: because of the logistics of distribution in this part of the world, the officially distributed version of Grand Theft Auto IV in New Zealand came from Australia and, thus, we received the same, censored version as our Australian counterparts even though our classification system would likely (and eventually did) permit the original.

Game Console spoke this morning with a spokesperson for Fiveight, the local distributor for Warner Bros. titles such as this year's Mortal Kombat. We were advised that the game is currently undergoing review at the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), and while it's out of the distributor's hands, Fiveight is confident the game should receive a classification. "Clearly, with an R18 classification in New Zealand, we'd be very hopeful that it'll get through," he said. "It's really up to them. Based on history, there hasn't been a huge number [of titles] that haven't made it through."

In New Zealand, only four games have been refused classification thus far: Manhunt, Manhunt 2, Postal 2 and Reservoir Dogs. It's worth noting that, for all four titles, "high-impact violence" is chiefly cited among the reasons for the refusal of classification, so it's not all plain sailing for Mortal Kombat just yet.