Thanks to some quick alterations on the part of developer Bohemia Interactive, Australia's Classification Board is changing its collective mind about survival sandbox game DayZ. The funny thing is, DayZ was nearly banned from the country over something that isn't yet present in its gameplay at all.
Earlier this August, the Classification Board decided to entirely block the physical sale of DayZ and later removed it from all online stores as well. The hassles came down to a rule which prohibited “illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards”--in this case referring to the mention of marijuana as a usable substance.
In response, Bohemia then decided not to fight the restrictions and instead work within them, announcing that it would be modifying the worldwide version of DayZ to suit Australia's classifications. "We are editing the global version of DayZ so it will fit into the Board’s requirements," the developer said in a statement to Kotaku AU. "The key objective is to keep the gameplay as authentic as it was, so players are not affected by this change." Bohemia's modifications essentially wipe any and all drug references from the game, which then qualifies it for an MA15+ rating. This is all despite the fact that there isn't actually any cannabis for players to find or use; it's only present in the game's files, having never been implemented into the game itself.
Bohemia hasn't specified what it did to make sure the game complies with all guidelines, but given that marijuana isn't in DayZ, it's entirely likely that players won't even notice a difference. Previously, the developer said that its decision was made on behalf of Australian players, not wanting to "separate Australian players from the rest of the world, since many people play cross-region." Now it seems Bohemia is getting its wish, as the new version of DayZ has been approved for distribution in Australia.
This isn't the first instance of the Classification Board banning games in recent months; both We Happy Few and Kingdom Come Deliverance are in trouble over DLC additions, and just yesterday Rockstar Games' secret project Bonaire was banned too. Bohemia's desire to keep Australian players in the loop to the best of its ability is admirable, and DayZ players will surely appreciate it. However, this particular ban shows goes to show how rigid Australia's classification laws are with no room for context, and how long it's been since changes to them have been considered.
Perhaps all of the recent drama will end up leading to change, but in the meantime, at least DayZ players can rest easy--and one-hundred-percent drug-free. Besides, it's the zombie apocalypse: most survivors will be too busy fending off the living dead anyway.
DayZ is available now (everywhere, including Australia) for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Source: Kotaku AU