Ahead of its release, Wasteland 3 was briefly refused classification in Australia, effectively banning it from sale. At the time, the Australian Classification Board was vague on the reason why the game was banned, but after a small change was made, Wasteland 3 was re-classified with an R18+ rating and allowed to release.
Now, in the board’s annual report, as picked up on by Kotaku Australia, some further reasoning has been given for the game’s ban, and it all comes down to a drug that players were allowed to smoke in the original submission.
“During the game, characters are able to smoke a drug known as ‘Rocky Mountain Moosegrass’, which appears to be a strain of cannabis,” the report reads. “The drug is denoted by an icon of a cannabis cigarette or joint in the player’s inventory that is accompanied by captions that attest to the cannabis-like effects of the drug.”
As the report notes, the sound of a sparking lighter was heard when players used the Moosegrass, and players were given a “bouldered” effect, worth one ability point, after smoking.
Under Australian classification rules, games cannot depict the use of a drug with a real-life analog in a positive manner. The Australian Rating Board has a long history of refusing classification of games due to incentivized drug use, many of which have similarly been edited to enable release in the country. Such titles include The Bug Butcher, Paranautical Activity, Saints Row IV, State of Decay, and Fallout 3.
While the game did not directly call the Moosegrass marijuana, the signifiers made their intent clear. Just showing drug use won’t get your game banned, but tying it to incentives will. The game was re-submitted with the “interactive use” of the drug removed, and the game was accepted with an R18+ rating.
The R18+ rating was not implemented in Australia until 2013, and the first game to receive the rating was the PS Vita version of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. Wasteland 3 was the only game denied classification during the 12-month period covered by this report, out of 316 titles (most game releases are handled by a separate, self-guided rating system in Australia now).
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