Earlier this week, Devolver Digital announced it was bringing the "super-violent" multiplayer brawler Mother Russia Bleeds to the Switch eShop on 15th November. If you watched the gameplay trailer, you will have no doubt noticed the graphic nature of the title including references to drug use.
In an unexpected update, Devolver Digital has issued a tweet revealing the game won't be released in Australia or New Zeland on Nintendo Switch. It's all to do with the local Classification Board and its disapproval of certain themes in video games. It's worth noting, it's not actually clear if the game has been banned, or if the publisher is avoiding the inevitable.
As Kotaku explains, existing console versions of this game have received an M rating from America's ESRB. This roughly aligns with the M or MA15+ rating in Australia and New Zealand. PEGI has Mother Russia Bleeds down as an 18+ rating.
In 2013, Australia passed an R18+ rating for video games, with the aim to reduce the number of bans. Despite this rating being introduced, the bans have continued - with drug references and implied sexual violence the most common reason games are refused. While the Switch release of Mother Russia Bleeds is seemingly off-limits locally, the Steam version is apparently still available to access as it has not gone through the local classification process.
Australia's long-time history banning games has seen titles like South Park: The Stick of Truth refused for depicting sexual violence and Saints Row IV banned for containing drug use incentives. Outlast 2 was also originally refused for implied sexual violence and even Sega's House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut from back in the day was banned due to excessive violence. All of these games were resubmitted (with edits even made to some) and eventually received classification.
In saying this, this is only a handful of cases over the years. Many other games have been banned and publishers have often decided not to resubmit. This includes Devolver Digital's very own 2015 release Hotline Miami 2, which was banned for depicting sexual violence and was never released in Australia.