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Censorship Australia Games Your Rights Online

Australian Government Bans New Syndicate Game 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the yes-this-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like the Australian Government's move to introduce a new R18+ classification for adult video games hasn't yet taken force, with video game maker EA confirming today that its reboot of the classic Syndicate series has been banned in Australia due to extreme violence. Left 4 Dead, Mortal Kombat and now Syndicate — what game will be banned next in Australia is anybody's guess."
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Australian Government Bans New Syndicate Game

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  • That makes it ok to download it then, huh?
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @04:54AM (#38445876)

      Downloading it and not paying for it is really punishing the publisher, and it isn't their fault. The Australian government is the one causing the problems. Now if you can't import the US/UK version without risking jail/a fine then ok, maybe it is your only way to play. But if importation is possible, it would seem that is the way to go. Show the AUS government how stupid their policies are and support game makers.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @04:56AM (#38445896)

        Downloading it without paying for it instead of not buying it without paying for it does not punish the publisher at all.

      • by sg_oneill (159032) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @04:56AM (#38445898)

        I dont really understand how its punishing the publisher in this case. Like any piracy, there isn't any theft (piracy isn't theft unless you somehow take someone elses copy of them) , but unlike regular piracy, there isn't even an oportunity lost. There can be no lost transaction when the publisher *cant* make a transaction in the first place.

        Its literally victimless in all known senses.

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by SharkLaser (2495316)
          It's not completely victimless. It's lost opportunity to other game developers since you're playing some other game you pirated instead of getting theirs.
          • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @05:20AM (#38446004)

            Well, if you're going by that logic, then just about everything is a lost opportunity. Why are you playing sports instead of buying company X's video game!? Why did you buy my competitor's video game? You should have bought mine! Why did you just download that free game instead of buying mine? Why didn't you give me all of your money?

            I wouldn't say there's a victim here.

          • by sirlark (1676276)

            That makes no sense. Either I want to play game A and game B (and game C... but have a limited budget and can only afford 1, 2 or whatever of them), or I really am only interested in game A. If game A is unavailable, the industry is losing out by me pirating game A, because I will still likely spend my money to obtain games B, C etc to the extent I can afford in the first case (I wanted to play them all); Or I'll not spend my money on the other games because they never interested me in the first place. Peop

          • by AlanS2002 (580378)

            It's not completely victimless. It's lost opportunity to other game developers since you're playing some other game you pirated instead of getting theirs.

            It's no opportunity lost, as it's not an either/or situation. You could still get the other game developers game (if you were inclined to do so in the first place) as well as pirating the one that you are unable to acquire legitimately.

          • No. The victim is the publisher of the game the player wanted to play and could not because of overbearing government interference.

            The player does not want to play the products of your poor "other game developers".

        • by Dionysus (12737)

          Like any piracy, there isn't any theft (piracy isn't theft unless you somehow take someone elses copy of them) , but unlike regular piracy, there isn't even an oportunity lost. There can be no lost transaction when the publisher *cant* make a transaction in the first place.

          Its literally victimless in all known senses.

          I take it you feel the same about companies that take GPL code and distribute it without providing the source?

      • Customs will confiscate any imported copies IF they can identify them. Not sure what the punishment might be, but unless you're attempting to conceal a copy within a shipment of drugs or explosives, Customs won't find it unless you're extremely unlucky.

        It's sort of a win, given that an imported UK copy can be purchased for approximately $45, while locally purchased copies will start at $80

      • by DrXym (126579)

        Downloading it and not paying for it is really punishing the publisher, and it isn't their fault.

        Well you could say it is their fault for expecting their game to slide past one of the most draconian game censors in the world. Not that I'm trying to defend Australia's level of censorship which I think is ridiculous, but I'm just saying. Can't cry "unfair" when the situation is pretty well understood even if it is a bad situation.

        And if the game is banned from the country how much material harm are you actually causing EA by pirating it? The ban meant they weren't going to profit from the game in Aust

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Since importing the game would be just as much an illegal activity as copying the game, importing is not a legitimate solution. I'm sure that EA's official stance is that they don't want you committing a crime to play their game anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It would be pretty funny if someone got sued for downloading it. Shouldn't censorship count under the whole 'lost revenue' thing?

      • Well, they'd be caught both for stealing and illegal importation to defy a censorship order.

        The former should be defensible by demonstrating another product was purchased, i.e. that no sale was lost; the latter, by demonstrating that it is for personal use only, and that no further distribution would take place, perhaps by showing proof that the torrent ratio was tampered with.

        • The former should be defensible by

          Mitigation != Defence.

          "Defence" has a specific legal meaning. The two reasons you listed aren't a "defence" against a guilty verdict. But it may be used to mitigate the sentence, if you plead guilty and get a soft magistrate and unmotivated police-prosecutor.

          (IANAL, IANYL, ASPLA)

    • Re:I guess... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @05:23AM (#38446018)

      That makes it ok to download it then, huh?

      Cant say, but it will certainly take the wind out of the old and eroneous "lost sales" argument.

      But anyway, here's what's going to happen

      - Game X is "banned"
      - /.er's who don't understand the situation scream about OMG Freedoms.
      - Media shit storm in a teacup is created.
      - OLFC changes its mind after one minor change.
      - /.er's who haven't bothered to keep up scream about OMG Freedoms.
      - original /. whingers are now cosplaying as William Wallace shouting OMG FREEEEEEDOMS.
      - Game gets released on Oz.
      - /.er's still whinging about Freedoms.
      - Smart Australians order games from overseas regardless (thank you parallel importing).

      I swear we'll still be hearing about this six months from now. I mean the article mentioned Left4Dead when it was released in Oz on November 18 2008, the same day as North America.

      • (thank you parallel importing).

        You can only parallel import legally available material. If it's RC, then it's "Importation of refused classification material". Same as child pornography.

        • You didn't follow his hypothetical timeline, did you? He's arguing that it may become available if the publishers make one minor change (similar to changing blood from red to green).

          • He's arguing that it may become available if the publishers make one minor change (similar to changing blood from red to green).

            Then that version is legal. It doesn't make the original (international) version legal. If you parallel import an unmodified version, you have imported refused classification material.

            (I'm not telling people not to import RC games. Or even pirate them. Go nuts. But people who pirate games know that it's against local copyright laws, and are willing to risk the low chance of detection. Telling people that our Parallel Importation laws somehow magically bypass our classification laws is misleading and wrong.)

        • by biovoid (785377)

          You can only parallel import legally available material. If it's RC, then it's "Importation of refused classification material". Same as child pornography.

          It is not illegal to own RC material. It is only illegal to sell it or publicly broadcast it. Even importing is a grey area. It will probably get through, or you might, maybe get fined.

          It's nothing like child pornography. Not even in the same league. Child porn is illegal to own/sell/make/distribute and you'll face a jail term if caught.

          Comparing importing RC material to child porn is like comparing jay-walking to murder.

      • by Fluffeh (1273756)

        - /.er's still whinging about Freedoms.
        - Smart Australians order games from overseas regardless (thank you parallel importing).

        So on one hand you say that /.er's will be whining about Freedoms, but at the same time you say that the people who break a law (being importing of in this case illegal goods - which is what a US/UK copy would be) by ordering it in another country and circumnavigating this law are smart?

        So smart and dumb Australians both disagree with the censorship here, the stupid ones try to bring attention to the matter and perhaps get the censorship issues with games resolved by politicians - but the smart ones import

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        - OLFC changes its mind after one minor change.

        But it's not really one minor change is it? Typically the results is a game drastically different [youtube.com] from the original. Though on the upside Australian users don't need to spend money on expensive hardware given how bodies just magically disappear rather than pile up in the streets. Not to mention the eased load on the physics engine not having to fling body parts around. That makes it less of a distraction too.

        Actually why do we have any of this stuff at all? When you shoot someone why doesn't the body just d

    • "Banning" means it was "refused classification" by OFLC. So buying a version online is "Importation and possession of refused-classification material." P2P pirating it would also add "Distribution of refused-classification material." And that puts it in the same category as importation, possession and distribution of child pornography. And this remains the case even if the OFLC later reclassifies it after the distributor re-submits a modified version.

      (Although a court is likely to take the benign nature of

  • Now I HAVE to get this game. I was going to get it anyway, because I played the old one made by Bullfrog. I hope it's just as good.

    • by tegeus (658616)
      I was thinking the same thing. I didn't know about this game and just checked it out because of this very item (I loved syndicate wars, pity it's just another fps). If I was a paranoid sort of guy I would almost think this is some sort of viral marketing technique. Grease a few palms to over rate our game, money well spent. But to be fair I don't know enough about the process to know how much it is open to this... Would be interested if someone here knew more
    • Now I HAVE to get this game. I was going to get it anyway, because I played the old one made by Bullfrog. I hope it's just as good.

      I'm afraid if any company can ruin the old idea then it would be Electronic Arts. And seeing that they changed it from a tactical shooter to an FPS then it seems that they are on course for a disappointment. All they have done is use the same name to convince fans of the old game to buy this one. For all I know it might be a great game, but that will be despite the name "Syndicate". But I guess the tactic works; except for Aussies - they weren't fooled!

      Regarding the banning, it would be nice if the classifi

    • HEEHEEheeeheehee

    • I hope it's just as good.

      I guess you haven't seen the trailers yet. It's a tired, run of the mill FPS, most likely featuring an emphasis on multiplayer and a 4 - 5 hour campaign tacked on at the last minute.

      Australia is right to ban this travesty.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      It's not Syndicate. It's a generic FPS.

  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @04:49AM (#38445848) Journal

    Peter Sunde would like to personally thank the OFLC for their contribution to The Pirate Bay's ad revenue.

  • I'm sure Australia actually banned it for ruining the sugar coated nostalgia of the first games with another generic shooter.
  • Battletoads.
  • In unrelated news, piracy of the video game "Syndicate" rose by %1200 in Australia.
    • Surely it was by infinity%* ?

      If there are zero sales, and even one guy pirates it....

      * Stupid slashcode, won't allow you to use the ∞ entity.

      • *knock on door*

        Agent Smith: Dr_Barnowl (yes he can pronounce an underscore) of slashdot? We're here to ask you a few questions about your recent attempt to divide by 0
        Dr_Barnowl: BLLuueeggthss *shows bowl containing brain*
        Agent Smith: Not again. Jones, get the funnel.

      • Dividing by zero is 'undefined' it is not 'infinity'.

  • Why be surprised that the R18+ rating has taken force when the article from the linked Slashdot story said:

    O'Connor said the R18+ legislation did not make it into this year's final parliament session, but he plans to introduce it in the February 2012 session.

    And like others have said here, perhaps it was the lack of imagination for remaking an isometric team-based game as an FPS that offended the classification board so much.

    I can only hope that they release the original game on GOG.com to coincide with the new release. Mind you, that might confuse and disappoint some Aussies who find the only game of that name which is available to them is not what they t

  • Until it was pointed out that the in-game enemies are all Australian and it was passed.

    Questions were raised in the Australian parliament about the situation. Questions like, "New Whatnow?"

    That didn't really happen.
  • by grahamtriggs (572707) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @06:26AM (#38446360)

    The original Syndicate was a 'beautiful' game, that did not contain or need extreme violence. A modern version of Syndicate would not need extreme violence either.

    This is not Syndicate. It's not even a modern version, or a 're-imagining'. This is a completely different game, with some vague influence from Syndicate, and the name grotesquely attached to it.

    • by Will_TA (549461)
      Rather like the new Star Trek film, or the Sherlock Holmes films. I wish people wouldn't be afraid to give their ideas their own support rather relying on the coat-tails of the past.
    • by Tim C (15259)
      I'll admit it's been a long time since I played the original Syndicate, and my memory isn't the best, but I seem to remember sending a team of 4 highly-augmented cyborg agents out with mini-guns to mow down bad guys and civilians alike; seems kinda violent to me. Sure, you didn't have ultra-realistic graphics, but books generally contain no graphics and can still be plenty violent.

      That's not to say that I don't expect this new game to be a travesty of course.
    • by wcoenen (1274706)

      did not contain or need extreme violence

      Are we talking about the same game? The one with the uzis and flamethrowers [youtube.com]?

    • I take it you never set a civilian on fire and let them run through a crowd. On the US box for Syndicate Wars was the sub title:
      Corporate Persuasion Through Urban Violence

      I played both the original Syndicate and also Syndicate Wars in my youth. Personally I would have loved to see a proper sequel in the 3rd person view where you control 1 or more agents. Syndicate Wars ran great on my 486 dx2 66 with 8MB ram, with modern hardware you could have more agents, larger levels better AI and improved graphics.
    • by Toonol (1057698)
      The original Syndicate was horrifically violent; but it wasn't explicitly violent. It was just suggested or abstracted away. You could mind control a random citizen to kill his friends, then leave him behind to be shot... or take him with you to forcibly remove many body parts and permanently make him a slave.

      But it didn't show it graphically.
  • by Ch_Omega (532549) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @08:08AM (#38446828) Journal
    ...as it spits in the face of the original, and awesome, Syndicate games, which were anything but a dumbed down rail-shooter.
    • by eyenot (102141)

      They did wha-- omg my breakfast huuurrrfddfffff

    • by dbIII (701233)

      which were anything but a dumbed down rail-shooter.

      Now that's what the next version of Railroad Tycoon should look like :)

    • by Aleph Yin (523644)
      like fallout 3. i would pay good money for a sequel to a great game if it actually had the gameplay that i loved about the original. something like this is so generic and tired i don't think i'll even bother pirating it.
  • Why are there still countries in the so-called civilized world that actually bans stuff through censorship?

    Not only is it morally wrong on every level; it also promotes piracy and circumvention. Are they stupid or just mind-numbingly dumb?

    • by operagost (62405)
      Please remember that this is the country that banned nearly all guns because one psycho shot up a shopping mall. For a country that has so many chompy, stingy, poisonous monsters, they sure are fearful.
    • "morally wrong"?
      I dont think you have a proper understanding of the word "moral".
      Are you perhaps under 20? Or at most, under 25?

      You seem to have the implied belief of, "Anything that stops me from doing what I want to do, is 'morally wrong'"

      Which is actually the exact opposite of morals. Morals exist primarily for the reason of countering the typical human selfish desire of, "I wanna do whatever I wanna do".

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        No, he seems to have the implied belief that stopping others from doing what they want is morally wrong. In that he is probably as close to the truth as we get.
  • Instead of trying for a more unique format (3rd person action/strategy) they decided to go with the FPS format. That is what I liked about the older games is they were willing to try different things, granted the AI and graphics kind of sucked, but given how underpowered those machines were it becomes forgivable. I would have loved for there to be an actual update for Syndicate or Syndicate Wars using the 3rd person view where you control your agents but with more expansive maps, more interactions, better A
  • as it does not let this kind of shit happen.

  • Violent gaming can provide a therapeutic release of anger that can benefit the players in real-life. Whenever a government blocks an activity that releases a tension, such as the gaming or prostitution, then statistics show a rise in bad activities that also release the tension, such as real violence, or sex crimes.

  • what game will be banned next in Australia is anybody's guess

    I'm going to guess "any game distributed by P2P" since they are working hard to ban P2P traffic all together.

  • I couldn't care less if it is banned here because I have started buying new releases from the UK to save $30+.

  • Wrong Syndicate. Damn.

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