A couple of bits of bad news for Australian's looking forward to The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings today, as we've learned that not only has the game been slightly altered to pass under the MA15+ classification bar for Australian sale, but online retailer GOG.com has also had to adjust it's pricing to align closer to Australian brick-and-mortar distribution.
It's not all bad as it sounds however, as according to CD Project lead Adam Badowski, the "two small content changes" are trivial and "unlikely to significantly affect the overall play experience"
From the time we started developing The Witcher 2, our goal was to create a single international version. So, we are happy the game will be available almost everywhere exactly as we envisioned it. At the same time, we are disappointed that because Australia’s rating system for computer games does not go above MA 15+, we had to make two small content changes in order for our game to be distributed there at all. I would like to assure our Australian customers that we aware of the situation in their market, and will do everything we can to support them
According to fellow Australian game blog Gamepron
, Australian distributor Namco Bandai Partners also had this to say:
In the original version your character Geralt was given the choice of accepting sex ‘as a reward’ for successfully completing this particular side quest. The Australian Classification Board originally refused classification as they deemed the inclusion of ‘sex as a reward’ as not suitable for an MA15+ classification.
The change is only minor, in that the character choice is now made automatically for him. The character and the side quest are still in the game but presented in a slightly different context. No other changes have been made and this change has no impact on gameplay, storyline or character development.
As for the GOG.com pricing adjustment, that's not all bad news either. A press release
explains that they were regrettably required to adjust their pricing for Australian customers due to their licensing agreement and that the price will now be $69,99 AUD, where it had previously been $44.99 USD ($42.30 AUD at today's exchange rate).
However being European (and subject to similar game pricing disparities as us) they clearly sympathise with our plight and so their "Fair Price Package" offer extends to all Australian customers.
GOG.com will still offer their ‘Fair Price Package’, like they do for customers paying in Euros, to match the price in USD. This means all Australian gamers who buy The Witcher 2 at GOG.com will get $26 USD store credit to spend on Good Old Games’ 300+ games catalog.
All preorders by Australian gamers that are made before Friday, May 6 at 3:00 p.m. GMT, will be charged at the original price of $44,99 USD, and will receive the Australian version.
3pm May 6 GMT is 1am tomorrow morning (Saturday May 7th 2011) in AEST (Sydney time), so any Australian's still wanting to nab this one at the original US dollar price have until the end of today to jump on that
. The price for Australian customers on Steam has already been adjusted
No specific mention was made of whether the GOG.com Australian version will be DRM (copy protection) free, however as GOG have a DRM-free policy, it's safe to assume that would be the case. Nevertheless, we've contacted them for clarification on that one.
Update: GOG let us know that the Australian-specific version will still be -- like the rest of their catalogue -- free of any DRM. They also made a point of reminding us how quickly the community release modifications to remove the censorship from the original Witcher.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is due worldwide on May 17 2011, exclusively for PC.