It’s not receiving a great deal of news coverage right now, but today, Syndicate releases in the US, while Australians are going without.
Syndicate was refused classification in Australia in December of last year, with EA commenting the next day on their disappointment at the decision. From prior hands-on previews with the game prior to this judgment, MCV can report that while the game certainly contains violence, it is most definitely of equal or lesser impact to similar titles such as The Darkness II which passed at a high MA15+ level.
EA chose not to appeal the decision, and the game is now flying off shelves in the US, and presumably turning yet another subculture of fans from traditional consumers into importers.
While Australian Customs has previously tried to stop copies of games at our borders (as in the case of Mortal Kombat), there have been no major successes reported on that front.
As such, whenever a high profile, solid game like Syndicate gets the RC treatment in Australia, those fans who are most passionate, who simply can’t live without the title are pushed to their first experience of importing games. That experience, for most Australians, is a satisfactory one where they get the titles they want in a relatively efficient time frame regardless of the game’s status with the Australian Classification Board (ACB), and usually at a significantly reduced price than if they’d have purchased the game locally.
The high prices debate for Australian videogames has been raging for some time, but regardless of whether titles here have their prices justified, each RC is yet another push for a new flock of consumers to understand that, at least for them, it doesn’t have to be that way.
OzGameShop, Play Asia, Mighty Ape, MyGames and most recently Harvey Norman Direct Imports are all casually offering imported game sales with seemingly very little resistance from government enforcement of the copyright infringement being executed, and even EB Games is selectively importing high demand titles which suffer significant delays in getting to Australia on an ad hoc basis.
The RC of Syndicate was an anomalous inconsistency on the part of the ACB no matter which way you slice it when it’s stacked up against similar titles in the high MA15+ category. The rise and rise of online sales just means that the industry should be shouting louder and louder to have the R18+ category brought in as soon as possible and stop the continual exposure of new people to the services offered by parallel importing.
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