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The game had been effectively banned down under late last month, but publishers Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment decided to re-submit an identical copy of the game for review, claiming that it was no worse than many other games currently on shelves. It seems the Board thinks otherwise, and the game remains Refused Classification in Australia.
According to the Review Board's official report, a four-member panel came to the majority decision that the game should be Refused Classification. The group made a fresh decision based on the appeal for review, and their findings now take the place of the original decision.
In the Review Board’s opinion, Mortal Kombat could not be accommodated within the MA15+ classification as the level of violence in the game has an impact which is higher than strong. As MA15+ is the highest classification category available to computer games under the Australian Classification Scheme, the Classification Review Board must refuse classification to Mortal Kombat.
We contacted publishers WBIE for comment, and received the following statement:
"We're obviously extremely disappointed that the refused classification decision has been upheld by the Classification Review Board. We want to thank the thousands of Mortal Kombat fans in Australia and around the world who have voiced their support during the appeal process."
WBIE have not yet announced their plans for the future of Mortal Kombat in Australia, but an earlier statement explained that the company "would not market mature content where it is not appropriate for the audience".
We are extremely disappointed that Mortal Kombat, one of the world's oldest and most successful video games franchises, will not be available to mature Australian gamers.
"...We understand that not all content is for every audience, but there is an audience for mature gaming content and it would make more sense to have the R18+ classification in Australia."
Content that is Refused Classification in Australia is not outright banned from the country. It is, however, banned for sale, hire or public exhibition, and punishment includes hefty fines and/or jail time. The laws vary from state to state within Australia. Generally speaking, it is legal to possess content that has been Refused Classification (unless it contains something illegal) - but in Western Australia and parts of the Northern Territory, even this is against the law. "Public exhibition" is also an awkward topic - as it can potentially include "playing the game in your loungeroom with the windows open where someone who walks past can see you".
...and then there's the fact that Customs can - and often does - confiscate the material as it is imported into the country. While you might get away with buying a copy of the game overseas, it's not guaranteed, and can potentially put you in hot water. So - how much do you want your fatalities?
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I like video games, fishing, Depeche Mode, long walks on the beach, writing discussion papers and cups of tea. Not necessarily in that order.
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