UPDATE: Manhunt has since been removed from the Australian Steam store, less than 3 hours after this story was originally posted in fact. Interesting to note that the Trailer for Manhunt was also removed, which was available through the Australia Steam store prior to the accidental release of Manhunt yesterday - as you can see in the screenshot we posted bellow, the trailer had been in the store since January 2008.
Prior to today Australian gamers could only purchase Grand Theft Auto IV, Episodes from Liberty City and - recently - Bully: Scholarship Edition. When Steam refreshed its catalog this morning though, it was a different story. Out of nowhere the entire Rockstar Games Steam catalog, that which US gamers are able to purchase, was made available to Australian gamers digitally, for the very first time. This includes:
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Grand Theft Auto 3
- Max Payne
- Max Payne 2
- Midnight Club
- and Manhunt?
UPDATE: Some may have also noticed that no classic Grand Theft Auto games, nor Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, are amongst those released. The reasoning for this is unknown, but perhaps we can expect to see them gracing the pages of the Australian Steam store in the near future.
See, what is interesting here is that Manhunt was actually Refused Classification, effectively banned, in Australia way-back in 2004. This means that distribution of the game is against the law.
I held off on posting this article until I was able to find some clarification from other sources, because upon original investigation I was unable to find the records for it's refused classification on Australia's rating boards' website. Last this afternoon however, GameSpot AU contacted director of the Classification Board of Australia, Donald McDonald, who reiterated that the game was, in fact, still banned:
"The game Manhunt was refused classification on 29 September 2004,"
"It is an offence in all states and territories of Australia to sell, hire or demonstrate a computer game classified Refused Classification (RC)."
"A computer game classified RC would also be a prohibited import under Regulation 4A of the Customs Import Regulations. Any person importing an RC computer game into Australia needs to consider whether they are committing an offence."
A Rockstar Games representative in Australian offered no comment on the matter when contacted by GameSpot AU, and as far as we can tell the game is still available for purchase. For how long though, remains to be seen.
Whilst it appears that Valve may have accidentally released the game to Australian gamers, some users have a more sinister train-of-thought. Given Valve's history with the Australian Rating Board, which has been similar to Rockstar's in some ways, could Valve have done this to prove a point? Seems far-fetched, but we'll have to wait and see what their response is over the coming days...