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Starfield’s “Drug Use” Pushes Rating In Australia Above Bethesda’s Past Games

The next game from storied developer Bethesda Game Studios, the ambitious spacefaring sci-fi RPG Starfield, has received a rating in Australia, and it’s something of a surprise.

The Australian Classification Board has given Starfield a rating of R18+, which means the game contains content “considered high in impact” for players. The ratings page states that Starfield’s R18+ rating mainly stems from its depiction of unspecified “drug use.”

The R18+ rating is noteworthy considering Bethesda’s previous games, like Skyrim and Fallout 76 received the lower rating of MA15+.

For Starfield, as you can see in the classification breakdown below, other content vectors showed that Starfield received a “moderate impact” distinction for its “themes,” a “strong impact” label for violence, and another “moderate impact” for language. For nudity, Starfield received a “very mild impact” rating, and a “none” for sex. The rating description doesn’t provide any specifics, though.

Starfield’s rating in Australia, broken down

In any event, former Bethesda ANZ senior community manager Jonny Roses said Starfield getting an R18+ rating in Australia is a “bummer” for Bethesda’s local team in Australia. “It just makes it a harder for them to advertise the game, display it at events, etc. R18+ games cannot be sold to minors, whereas MA15+ games can with a parent,” Roses said.

Wow, Starfield got rated R 18+ in Australia. That’s a bummer for the team here.
It’s harder to work with a game which can’t be sold to those under 18.

— LoneVaultWanderer (@LoneVaultWander) March 16, 2023

It is possible for developer/publishers to re-submit titles to the Classification Board with changes to get a lower rating, but whether or not Bethesda will do that in this case remains to be seen. GameSpot has contacted Bethesda in an attempt to get more details.

Starfield is developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Microsoft following the Xbox giant’s purchase of Bethesda owner ZeniMax. Starfield has been delayed multiple times and is now set for a release in September 2023 on Xbox and PC.

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