We Happy Few Latest to be Banned in Australia

Themes of supervision and oversight make for some good irony.

The studio behind the upcoming distopic survival-horror game We Happy Few had some pretty bad news for Australian fans today. As it happens, their highly anticipated game is the latest to be hindered by what has now become an infamous national classification board. The hindrance is only made worse because the Board effectively banned it by choosing not to classify the title. 

The Way Down Under

The Australian Classification Board is an Australian government statutory body which is responsible for classifying and censoring video-games in Australia. Since its inception, it has developed a reputation for being tough on violence and sexuality. This is particularly true when one considers video-games, and the ire which the Board has fostered in the gaming community. While gratuitous violence in video-games understandably drew their gaze; banning certain games like the Witcher 2 and South Park: The Stick of Truth has raised some eyebrows. As of today, the board can add another name to its long list of “ignored” titles. Indeed, Compulsion Games has confirmed that We Happy Few has been denied classification by the Board. This effectively bans the game from sale in Australia.

The studio had this to say about the event. You can check out the full post in the link above:

“To our Australian fans, we share your frustration. We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call.

We Happy Few is set in a dystopian society […] It’s a society that is forcing its citizens to take Joy, and the whole point of the game is to reject this programming and fight back. In this context, our game’s overarching social commentary is no different than Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

The game explores a range of modern themes, including addiction, mental health and drug abuse. We have had hundreds of messages from fans appreciating the treatment we’ve given these topics, and we believe that when players do get into the world they’ll feel the same way. We’re proud of what we’ve created”.

Oh the irony

The studio highlights that the overall themes of the game may have unfairly disadvantaged it in the eyes of the Classification Board, and that there may still be a chance to reverse the judgment. If one analyses other content posts linked to this PR response, it becomes clear that the board wasn’t happy about the use of drugs. Particularly because they were linked to “progress” in the game. Until both Compulsion Games and the ACB have a chance to discuss the matter, however, we’re left with speculation.

So what are your thoughts on this? Should the studio alter game content for sale in Australia, or just look to refund backers and move on?

For more on We Happy Few, be sure to check back regularly on IMGMR. 



Cédrick studies law, but his passion lies in gaming. PC is his platform, PS4 is his bloodborne machine, Dark Souls is his true love.

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