It will still be a while before we start seeing the stickers on store shelves, but the long-awaited R18+ category for videogames is now officially part of Australia's National Classification Code
, having come into effect nationally from January 1st 2013.
The new rating does not apply retroactively, so only games actually submitted for classification (or re-submitted) from the beginning of this year will wind up in the new category.
New South Wales, The ACT, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory have passed legislation to govern the proof-of-age sale restrictions and penalties, but Queensland is still going through the motions, with the QLD Attorney-General's office recently confirming
that "This means R18+ computer games cannot be publicly demonstrated, made, or sold until the law is amended in Queensland". The QLD State Government is expected to revisit the matter in February following a mandatory committee review process, but it is generally expected that they should still have things sorted before the first R18+ rated games hit Australia shelves.
Players hoping for recently refused classification games such as Syndicate or Mortal Kombat to finally see local release, or games like Left 4 Dead 2 to now be uncensored are likely to be disappointed, as that would require their publishers to formally submit the games for reclassifaction and wear the costs associated with that process. Even then it's possible that they would still be RC'd as the new R18+ category is not significantly more lenient than the former MA15+ tag.
We'll start to get a better idea of what this means for Australia's adult gamers once the first R18+ ratings are declared by the Australian Classification Board.