Compulsion Games is asking Australian backers to give them some time to work through issues raised when the Australian Classification Board denied classification of their upcoming Kickstarter-funded title, “We Happy Few.”
According to Australia’s Classification Act of 1995, “Every film and computer game has to be classified before it can be legally made available to the public.” By not rating “We Happy Few,” the Classification Board has effectively banned the sale of the upcoming title in Australia. The studio plans to appeal the decision, expressing their shared frustration with Australian backers.
“We Happy Few” is a first-person game in which players must escape the demented citizens of Wellington Wells, a dystopian city modeled after 1964 London. Citizens are forced to take Joy — “happy pills” to keep them docile and complacent. Players will need to blend in, hunt for supplies, and craft weapons to make it out of the city alive.
“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,” Compulsion Games wrote on its blog. “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.”
The board offered some explanation on the decision to not rate the title on their website, referencing the National Classification Code article 1.(a) which states that computer games that “depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults” should be refused classification.
In the statement, Compulsion Games requested that Australian backers give the studio some time to convince the ACB to appeal the decision. Otherwise, the studio will ensure that Australian backers can receive a refund.
The title exceeded its $250,000 CAD Kickstarter goal in 2015, with a total of $334,754 CAD from over 7,000 backers.
“We Happy Few” is planned for release later this summer for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with Mac and Linux versions planned for later release.