We Happy Few? More like We Happy Many.
Two months after the Australian Classification Review Board confirmed that Compulsion Games’ We Happy Few — the upcoming indie survival and adventure game inspired by BioShock, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Brave New World — had been denied classification, meaning the title had effectively been banned in the country, the board has officially overturned its decision.
Let the heavens open up and the choir sing and the— oh, screw it, c’mon Fortnite fans, now’s an actually appropriate time to do the Backpack Kid!
In a unanimous decision, a three-member panel of the Australian Classification Review Board handed We Happy Few an R18+ classification. Such a rating is the highest one a game can receive in the Land Down Under, and We Happy Few was given it due to the fact that it includes “fantasy violence and interactive drug use.”
According to Australia’s National Classification Code and Classification Guidelines, drug use in video games should “not exceed high at the R18+ level.” The interactive drug use in We Happy Few is “high in impact,” the board found, and the “impact of the classifiable elements in the computer game was no greater than high.”
Games rated R18+ in Australia are legally restricted to adults, meaning those under the age of 18 cannot purchase them and some material featured in the titles may still be offensive to certain adults.
The Australian Classification Review Board initially refused to rate We Happy Few due to the inclusion of the in-game drug Joy, which can, at times, alter visuals and decrease difficulty. The board affirmed that “the game’s drug-use mechanic making game progression less difficult constitutes an incentive or reward for drug-use,” and for that reason, it was denied classification.
Compulsion Games said in a statement at the time of the announcement, “We are extremely pleased with the decision of the board and excited that our Australian fans and new players will be able to experience We Happy Few without modification. We want to thank everybody who got involved in the discussion, contacted the board and sent us countless messages of support. Your involvement made a huge difference.”
We Happy Few getting unbanned in Australia is massive news on its own, but it’s even more incredible when remembering that the country of kangaroos, bin chickens, and the unforgiving Outback didn’t require Compulsion Games to alter the game in any way. (The studio did still go through Dark Souls-level torture in order to convince the board to reconsider its original decision.) And that’s saying something, since Fallout 3, Call of Duty: WWII, and Saints Row IV all went through a rigorous editing process to be considered for classification in Australia — with Fallout 3 getting smacked with a big ol’ ban at first as well.
Gaming fans everywhere can pick up We Happy Few on August 10, when it launches for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.