A couple of days ago we reported
on the surprise news that the Australian ratings board outright refused to classify the upcoming dystopian thriller We Happy Few. The reasoning was vague and general in the sense that it featured placeholder text along the lines of "this movie contains violence, sex scenes, and drug use". Today, developer Compulsion Games responded to the banning of its game.
Stating on the delevoper's own site
We Happy Few is set in a dystopian society, and the first scene consists of the player character redacting material that could cause offense to “society at large”, as part of his job as a government “archivist”. 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.
Which naturally makes the Australian Classification Board sound like a government agency straight out of George Orwell's 1984. From all footage we've seen on We Happy Few, and the small snippets we played with an Early Access build the classification refusal is baffling. Even if it's for drug use, there's nothing about We Happy Few that feels anything but mature in its approach.
Developer Compulsion Games also notes that if its planned appeal fall through, players who've already backed the game will be refunded in full.
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.
More as it breaks.