Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a 2D top-down video game developed by Dennaton Games and published by Devolver Digital. It’s the follow-up to the original Hotline Miami which developed into a fan favorite shifting hundreds of thousands of units in its first weeks on sale.
While HM2 is set to ride on its predecessor’s successes, its nature means that the some gamers will not be seeing the game on shelves, virtual or otherwise. The problem lies with HM2’s depiction of sex and violence, often in the same scenes.
Kotaku, for example, has a report on one particular scene which involves lots of killing rounded off with what appears to be rape. While this scene isn’t the only culprit, it’s all been too much for the Australian Classification Board, the body tasked with ensuring titles are suitable for a local audience.
According to government guidelines, publications 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” will not be classified.
As a result the Australian Classification Board has now effectively banned Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number in Australia meaning that Aussies won’t be able to get their hands on the title. Well not by official means of course.
Normally this kind of situation would see gamers disappearing off to torrent sites hoping to obtain the title without being caught. However, thanks to HM2’s developers they can not only still do the former but can do so without any fear of the latter.
The move was uncovered by Reddit user Max Cartwright who wrote to Jonatan Söderström, co-creator of Hotline Miami, expressing disappointment at the game being banned.
“As you obviously are aware, Hotline Miami 2 has been refused classification in Australia. This killed me, knowing that there is no legitimate way to purchase one of my most anticipated games,” Cartwright began.
“My question to you is, how would you, as the developer, most prefer me to obtain your game? I was thinking maybe I could torrent it and donate to you directly, but I’m not a fan of torrenting games and I don’t want to get in legal trouble.”
Söderström responded, and it was everything Cartwright could’ve hoped for.
“If it ends up not being released in Australia, just pirate it after release,” Söderström said. “No need to send us any money, just enjoy the game!”
With the email confirmed as genuine it now seems that Australians will not only be able to bypass the censors but do so with permission – a somewhat unique situation for commercially available title.
For their part, Devolver Digital have expressed disappointment at the decision not to classify but say they have no plans to censor the title.
“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,” the company said.
This isn’t the first time that the creators of Hotline Miami have rubbed shoulders with pirates. In 2012 the developer took the decision to give customer support and a special patch to users of The Pirate Bay who had downloaded the game without paying for it.
Playing nice with pirates worked out well two years ago. Let’s see how that pans out second time around.