You might remember Paranautical Activity as the game that caused an awful lot of drama when developer Mike Maulbeck threatened to kill Gabe Newell in late 2014. Now, you’ve got another reason to remember it: It’s the first game of 2016 to be Refused Classification in Australia.
(Yes, before you ask – even though we do have an R18+ adults only rating for games, some titles are still considered inappropriate for release in Australia – and Paranautical Activity is the latest on the list.)
The game was unceremoniously pulled from Steam after Maulbeck’s online outburst, but popped up again in February (after Digerati Distribution bought the rights, code and IP) as a “Deluxe Atonement Edition” for those fans who still wanted to play.
Now though, that doesn’t matter for Aussies: The Classification Board has updated its database and Paranautical Activity is effectively banned.
We don’t have any specific details about just why the game’s fallen foul of the censors, but the Board explains it refuses to classify 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.”
According to Nick Alfieri from publisher Digerati Distribution, the issue is related to “illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives and rewards”, as picking up in-game Adderall will give you a speed increase.
A little strict if you ask me but rules are rules!
This is the same part of the Classification guidelines that saw Fallout 3 (morphine), Saints Row IV (alien narcotics) and State of Decay (methadone, morphine and amphetamines) Refused Classification – all three of these games have been modified for their Australian release.
We’ve contacted the Classification Board to try and get our hands on the official report to see if it really is that simple – Alfieri says the publisher has also asked if they can resubmit the game without the item or with a modified item, and are currently waiting for a reply.
One person we have not contacted is Mike Maulbeck, who no longer has anything to do with Paranautical Activity.