Having been out since January 19 you’d think that The Bug Butcher by Awfully Nice Studios was safe from the ban heavy Australian Classification Board. Well it turns out that’s not the case, as they have indeed butchered the bug, labelled the game as “Refused Classification” or RC.
Those unfamiliar with The Bug Butcher can check out my review from earlier in the year here. At the time I called it one of the best 2D shooters you can play, so I was truly shocked when I heard this, especially since the reason for banning is far from evident in the cartoony and family friendly title.
“We were notified by the Australian Government that the game got banned because we use the word ‘Speed Powerup’ and use a syringe icon for it,” Awfully Nice Studios developer Rainer Zoettl told LoadScreen. “They are saying that it could be related to the ‘Speed’ drug (VERY far fetched in my honest opinion though).”
So the reason is pretty silly, especially considering the link between shooting alien bugs and shooting up hardcore drugs is extremely tenuous at best, and only linked through a cartoon icon. Also… not from experience or anything, but I don’t believe speed is a glowing fluorescent liquid.
The Australian Classification Board have a strict stance on a whole load of issues, in this case they state that the reason for refusal of classification is due to the depiction “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.’”
Yeah, maybe don’t invite those guys to a party.
At the time of writing the Classification Board website is down, but an archive of The Bug Butcher’s classification listing has surfaced online.
As for the weird timing of the ban, given the game had already launched on Steam, Zoettl says it’s probably because of the team’s plans to release The Bug Butcher on other platforms.
“We are currently working on a port for consoles, and [to release on] consoles we would need an age rating,” he said. Games can be released without classification on Steam, but not on the Playstation or Xbox stores, and once a game is given an RC it cannot be sold or distributed legally in Australia.
All hope is not lost for Australian bug butchers, as Zoettl told us that Awfully Nice Studios are in contact with the Classification Board to see if they can change the wording of the power up and maybe also the icon to avoid the issue, however they are yet to hear back.
The Bug Butcher is still available for purchase on the Australian Steam store, at the time of writing, but in light of this news it probably won’t stay up there for long.