Hotline Miami 2 banned in Australia, developer accuses ratings board of “stretching the facts”

Hotline Miami 2

[UPDATE: Dennaton have released a statement in response to the Australian Classification Board ruling, in which they express disappointment “that a board of professionals tasked with evaluating and judging games fairly and honestly would stretch the facts to such a degree”. The full statement is included below.]

The Australian Classification Board has refused to grant a rating to top-down murderdisco Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, effectively banning the game from sale in Australia. The decision to deny the game classification, according to a report by Kotaku Australia, was made largely due to a particular scene that implies sexual violence.

UPDATE: Devolver Digital and Dennaton Games have commented on the Australian Classification Board’s refusal to classify Hotline Miami 2, criticising the accuracy of the board’s report while clarifying that it’s possible for players to skip the content in question.

Here’s the statement in full.

“We are aware of the recent report published by the Australian Classification Board in regards to Hotline Miami 2 and have been in communication with them. As such, we and Dennaton Games would like to clarify a few things:

First, to clear up any possible misconceptions, the opening cinematic that was first shown in June of 2013 has not changed in any way. We also want to make clear that players are given an choice at the start of the game as to whether they wish to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence. The sequence in question is presented below in context, both after choosing the uncut version of the game and after choosing to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence.

Second, in response to the report itself, we are concerned and disappointed that a board of professionals tasked with evaluating and judging games fairly and honestly would stretch the facts to such a degree and issue a report that describes specific thrusting actions that are not simply present in the sequence in question and incorrectly portrays what was presented to them for review.

Though we have no plans to officially challenge the ruling, we stand by our developers, their creative vision for the storyline, its characters and the game and look forward to delivering Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number to fans very soon.”

ORIGINAL STORY: The ratings board cited classification guidelines in its report, saying that, “the computer game is classified RC [Refused Classification] in accordance with the National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1. (a) as 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 to the extent that they should not be classified.'”

The following paragraph contains a description of a scene in Hotline Miami 2 that you may find offensive or upsetting.

Specifically, a scene implying sexual violence has been reported to be one of the primary reasons for the refusal of classification. The report mentions a scene in which the protagonist enters a movie set and brutally murders several men before striking a woman, knocking her to the ground in a pool of blood. The character can then be seen partly undressing, before holding the woman down and thrusting while she struggles beneath him.

The scene has caused controversy earlier in the game’s development, prompting claims by the developer that they were considering reworking it. “We’re going to work with it, see if we can fix it,” Dennaton’s Dennis Wedin told RPSin 2013. “You get a bigger picture when you play the whole game, which is lost in the demo of course.”

In similar circumstances, such as with the release of Saints Row 4 and South Park: The Stick of Truth, offending scenes have been removed to comply with a region’s classification guidelines. Dennaton has not yet commented on whether they plan to release a censored version of Hotline Miami 2 in Australia.