List of banned video games

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This is a list of video games that had been censored or banned by governments of various states in the world. Governments have been criticized for banning games for many reasons, including, but not limited to; bans that increase piracy, inhibit business opportunities, violate rights,[1][2][3] and are widely available for purchase or download.[4] This list is not exhaustive in total, nor is it exhaustive for any country mentioned in particular.

Argentina[edit]

Name Reason
RapeLay Banned because the object of the game is to stalk and rape a woman and her two daughters, at least one of whom appears to be underage.[5][6][7][8][9]

Australia[edit]

Brazil[edit]

Brazil has banned many video games, mainly due to high impact violence and/or depictions of cruelty.[10] In Brazil, it is not only illegal to sell these games to the public, it is also illegal to possess, own or import any of these games. Any person caught selling, owning, importing or possession of such games can be punished with either fines, imprisonment or both.[citation needed]

Name Reason
The Cat In The Hat Banned due to a copyright claim by Discovery Communications.
Blood Banned because of high impact violence.
Bully (including Scholarship Edition) Banned for showing violence and harassment in a school setting.
Carmageddon Banned because of high impact violence against pedestrians.
Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now Banned because of high impact violence against pedestrians.
Counter-Strike Banned because of high impact violence. The ban was later lifted and game is now being sold once again.[11][12]
Doom Banned because of very high impact violence and offensive depictions of cruelty.
Duke Nukem 3D Banned because of high impact violence.
EverQuest Banned because of X18+ references.[11][13]
Grand Theft Auto Was banned because of high impact violence. This is only to the original GTA, and is no longer banned (save for the music-related Barueri ban of Episodes from Liberty City)
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City Banned because it uses music by the Brazilian composer Hamilton da Silva Lourenço without correct permissions.[14]
Max Payne 2 Banned because of high impact violence.
Mortal Kombat Banned because of high impact violence and depictions of cruelty.
Requiem: Avenging Angel Banned because of high impact violence.
Postal & Postal 2 Both banned because of high impact violence and offensive depictions of cruelty.

Additionally, the Department of Justice, Rating, Titles and Qualification requires that all video games be rated by the organization. Unrated titles are de facto banned from being sold in Brazil.

China[edit]

A very large number of video games are banned in the People's Republic of China. Games that contain drugs, sexual themes, blood, depictions of organized crime or the defaming of the Chinese government are almost always banned from sale. Because of the large size of the Chinese video game market, many studios will edit the content of their games to conform to the government's standards.

Home gaming consoles were banned in mainland China from June 2000[15][16] until 2013, when said ban was lifted.[17]

Notable games banned in that region are:

Name Reason
Battlefield 4 Banned due to the discrediting of China's national image as well as a threat to national security, in which the Chinese Ministry claims that the game shows it a "cultural invasion." [18]
Command & Conquer Generals Banned for "smearing the image of China and the Chinese army" despite the fact that the game presents China as a quasi-protagonist.[19] Additionally, the GLA campaign has the player destroy questionable targets such as the Three Gorges Dam and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Football Manager 2005 Banned for recognizing Tibet as an independent country. An edited version globally was later released.[20]
Hearts of Iron Banned for portraying Tibet, Sinkiang, and Manchuria as independent countries and Taiwan as under Japanese control.[19]
I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike Banned because of "intentionally blackening China and the Chinese army's image."[21]

Cuba[edit]

No video games have ever been banned in Cuba, but few games were sold in that country until 2007 when restrictions were eased. In 2010, the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops gained much controversy as there is a mission where the player attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, only to end up killing a double.[22]

Denmark[edit]

Name Reason
EA Sports MMA This game was not released in Denmark because of a law prohibiting marketing for energy drinks, which EA chose not to remove from the game.[23]

Germany[edit]

A game can be banned in Germany if it has been confiscated by court order because it violates a section of the Strafgesetzbuch (criminal code). Private possession (and thus playing it) and acquisition (such as downloading a demo from the Internet) is still legal, but any dissemination is not. The seller would break the law if a sale took place, not the buyer. On December 10, 2002, however, one German court (Oberlandesgericht Hamm) decided that a single sale of a single copy does not qualify as dissemination.[24] Unlike indexing by the BPjM, which restricts the sale of all content-equal versions, the versions that are confiscated are enumerated in the court order. Being put on the index by the BPjM or, since April 1, 2003, being refused a rating by the USK does not equal a ban. Rather, it imposes strict trade restrictions on the title. While only very few games have been confiscated, the list of indexed games is very long.[25]

In December 2006, Bavaria and Lower Saxony proposed legislation, to be presented to the national parliament, that would make even playing games that feature "cruel violence on humans or human-looking characters" an offense punishable with fines or jail time of up to 12 months.[26][27][28]

§ 86a outlaws the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations, § 130 Volksverhetzung (agitation of the people), and § 131 instructions for crimes. In the official lists, these three sections are always bundled, so any action game that contains swastika flags and/or any depiction of Adolf Hitler) is listed alongside racist propaganda pieces.

§ 131 outlaws representation of violence in media "which describe cruel or otherwise inhuman acts of violence against human beings in a manner which expresses a glorification or rendering harmless of such acts of violence or which represents the cruel or inhuman aspects of the event in a manner which injures human dignity."[29]

§ 130 and § 131 make it to a criminal offense to do following with corresponding scriptures:

  1. distributing / selling
  2. issuing in public, demonstrating or otherwise making available
  3. leaving it to a person under the age of 18
  4. producing, buying, delivering, storing, offering, announcing, praising, importing or exporting to use them within the meaning of the letters 1 to 3.

This means, that the import or purchase and the possession for personal use are still legal for persons over 18 years.

Name Reason
Soldier of Fortune: Payback Banned due to high levels of gore (decapitations, dismemberments, and excessive blood-letting)
KZ Manager (1990-10-29/1990-11-19) Banned because of Nazi references.
Condemned: Criminal Origins (Decision AG Munic February 2008) Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Manhunt (all versions, 2004-07-19) Banned because of high impact scary violence and cruelty.
Manhunt 2 Banned for "gross, unrelenting, and gratuitous violence."
Dead Rising Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Dead Rising 2 Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Silent Hill: Homecoming (Uncut) Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Wolfenstein (Uncut) Banned because of Nazi references.
Scarface: The World is Yours (Uncut) Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Left 4 Dead 2 (Uncut) Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
The Darkness (Uncut European Xbox 360 version) Banned because of Nazi signs in bonus comic.

In August 2008, Sega confirmed that The House of the Dead: Overkill and MadWorld would not be released in Germany,[30] due to the likelihood that they would be refused a rating by the USK.[31] Sega also announced in November 2009 that they would not distribute Aliens vs. Predator for similar reasons.[32]

A "Beschlagnahmung" (ban) is enforced for a minimum of ten years, after which a request for review may be submitted.[33] The bans associated with the following titles date back more than ten years, making them eligible for review:

Name Reason
Wolfenstein 3D Was banned because of Nazi references.
Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines (English version 1999-06-24) Was banned because of Nazi references.
Mortal Kombat (all Sega platforms, 1994-11-11) Was banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Mortal Kombat II (all versions except Game Boy, 1995-02-08) Was banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Mortal Kombat 3 (Mega Drive, PlayStation, SNES 1997-06-12) Was banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
Mortyr (2001-10-24) Was banned because of Nazi references.
Harvester (1996-08-31) Was banned because of high impact violence and sex references

Greece[edit]

See also: Law 3037/2002

No known games have been banned in Greece. A law banning all electronic games was passed on 2002, but eventually disregarded.[34][35][36]

Indonesia[edit]

Name Reason
RapeLay Excessive pornography and sexual violence.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow Banned because an organization called "Darah & Doa" was considered as a threat by the President of Indonesia.[citation needed]

Iran[edit]

Main article: Censorship in Iran
Name Reason
Battlefield 3 Banned due to the intense battles of the fictional US invasion on Tehran, as well as on the intense battle on the Grand Bazaar. Already prior to the ban, many retail stores were removing copies of the said game from the shelves.[37]

Ireland[edit]

Because IFCO almost never rates video games, and leaves decisions to PEGI and BBFC, there have not been a lot of games banned. Only one game so far, Manhunt 2, has passed IFCO's rating of 18. But the ban was later lifted.

Name Reason
Manhunt 2 Banned for "gross, unrelenting, and gratuitous violence."[38]

Italy[edit]

In 2007, following the decision of the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Minister of Communications Paolo Gentiloni publicly expressed the desire to block the distribution of Manhunt 2 in Italy, due to the gratuitous violence and excessive cruelty of the video game, but the censorship was never put into practice.[39]

Japan[edit]

Main article: Video gaming in Japan

Games are rarely banned in Japan, and it holds the place as one of the top video game producers in the world.[40] However, Fallout 3 was edited in Japan due to a weapon in the game called the Fat Man. Because of its relation to the real historic event, the weapon was renamed to the Nuka Launcher in the Japanese version of Fallout 3.[41] Japan's Spike removed all references to Kim Jong-il and North Korea in Homefront, as well.[42] Resident Evil 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Bulletstorm, Gears of War 3, Dead Island and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance were edited for high impact violence.

Malaysia[edit]

Malaysia tends to ban high impact violence, depictions of cruelty, any content considered anti-Muslim, and sexual content. In August 2008, Head of a Malaysian consumer rights organization, Muhammad Idris, called for a ban of Grand Theft Auto and other similarly violent games such as Manhunt series.[43][44] In February 2010, one week after Dante's Inferno released, the game was banned by Jabatan Agama Islam [JAIS] for cruelty, hellish visions, sexuality and content that was against Sharia.[citation needed]

Mexico[edit]

Though no video games have ever been nationally banned, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 was banned in the state of Chihuahua due to Mexican Rebels being depicted as antagonists and stereotyping the city of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez.[45] However, the game can still be found in shelves in other states.

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, games are classified by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. If they are dubbed "objectionable" in all cases, then they are considered banned. In this case, the game in question is not only illegal to sell, but illegal to own, possess, or import. Games are typically banned and classified as "objectionable" when they contain extreme violence, depictions of cruelty, animal cruelty, pedophilic content, or graphic depictions of sexual content., including sexual fetishes that are "offensive & abhorrent" (depictions of urination, bestiality, necrophilia, urophilia, coprophilia, and/or incest.)

Name Reason
Manhunt Banned because of high impact scary violence and cruelty.[46]
Manhunt 2 Banned for "gross, unrelenting, and gratuitous violence."
Postal 2 Banned because of gory violence.[47]
Postal 2 Demo Game Banned for "the use of urine in association with degrading and dehumanising conduct, and to tend to promote and support the infliction of extreme violence and extreme cruelty."
Reservoir Dogs Banned because of high impact violence and cruelty.
RapeLay Banned because "it promotes and supports the exploitation of young persons for sexual purposes, and the use of violence to compel a person to submit to sexual conduct."
Three Sisters' Story Banned because it "tends to promote and support the use of violence to compel a person to submit to sexual conduct, and the exploitation of young persons for sexual purposes."

Pakistan[edit]

Name Reason
Call of Duty: Black Ops II Banned for portraying Pakistanis negatively.[48]
Medal of Honor: Warfighter Banned for portraying Pakistanis negatively.[48]

Russia[edit]

In Russia, games are classified by the “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” Federal Law. No known games have been banned in Russia due to excessive violence, nudity, negative portrayal of people of Russia or expression of religious views of any kind because of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution of Russia. Media in America and Europe have falsely reported that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which features a storyline in which Russian "ultranationalists" take control of the country and invade the United States, was banned in Russia. Activision called these reports 'erroneous'.[49] However, the Russian version of this game was edited by removing the optional level "No Russian" where the player is given the option to shoot Russian civilians in an airport. The decision to remove the mission was made after consulting with local counsel. The only other body who have the authority to pass ratings on video games in Russian Federation is the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, who refused to comment on the controversy.[citation needed]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

It should be noted that most of these games can be found in some stores due to the government's lack of enforcing the banning of these games. Many major stores, however, will not stock the following banned titles.

Name Reason
God of War (series) Banned due to the presence of interactive sex scenes, partial nudity and sexual themes as well as the word "God" in the title.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Banned due to violence towards Muslims.
Assassin's Creed Was banned (for two weeks) because of perceived negative portrayal of Arabs.[citation needed]
Grand Theft Auto (series) Banned because of the presence of prostitutes and heavy sexual themes.
Heavy Rain Banned because of nudity and a sex scene.
L.A. Noire Banned because of nudity.
Red Dead Redemption Banned due to nudity, prostitution, violence and cruelty.
Pokémon Trading Card Game Banned because it "promotes Zionism" and involves gambling.[50]

Singapore[edit]

Singapore rarely ban games in the past with a few exceptions. With the implementation of age rating by the Media Development Authority of Singapore, most games are widely available for purchase only to their respective age group. However, all games of pornographic nature are still automatically banned.

Name Reason
Half-Life Banned because of excessive violence.[51] The ban was met with uproar as the local gaming community and retailers scrambled to start petitions to save the game. The government decided to lift the ban after a week as the game had been released for more than a year and the ban will impact the local LAN gaming and retail market.[52]
Mass Effect Banned because of a lesbian encounter between an alien and a human (even though the alien is androgynous with vaguely feminine features).[53] The ban was later lifted.[54]
The Darkness Banned because of excessive violence.[55] The ban was later lifted for the PlayStation 3 version.

South Korea[edit]

South Korea has typically banned any game that mentions the war between North and South Korea in order to avoid tensions between the two countries. However, in December 2006, South Korea announced that these games will no longer be banned in order to comply with the principle of free expression. However, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Manhunt, Manhunt 2, and Mortal Kombat are still banned because of violence and cruelty (the first two was under KMRB regime only; it has since been lifted by GRB). In addition, Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was also banned, although this was later lifted.[56]

Like Brazil, the Game Rating Board requires that all video games be rated by the organization. Unrated titles are de facto banned from being sold in the country, and Web sites selling them can be blocked.

Name Reason
Grand Theft Auto III Banned by the KMRB because of violence and cruelty. Later lifted by the GRB.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Banned by the KMRB because of violence and cruelty. Later lifted by the GRB.
Kira Hara Banned due to various sensitive materials.
Manhunt Banned because of high impact scary violence and cruelty.
Manhunt 2 Banned for "gross, unrelenting, and gratuitous violence."
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction Banned to avoid increasing diplomatic tensions with North Korea. Later lifted.
Homefront Banned to avoid increasing diplomatic tensions with North Korea, and for its negative portrayal of Korean culture.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Banned until 2006 because one of the levels has Sam Fisher in Seoul, South Korea during a war with North Korea against South Korea and the United States.
Mortal Kombat Banned because of violence and cruelty.[57]

Thailand[edit]

Thailand will typically ban any games with sexual content, such as many hentai games, with the same reasons as banning any pornographic films.

Additionally, all video games of Grand Theft Auto video game series have been banned in Thailand since August 2008[58] because of an 18-year old Thai player who killed a taxi-driver similar to the gameplay in GTA.[59]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

In the United Arab Emirates, a branch of the government called the National Media Council (NMC) works to control the media and entertainment industry in the country, and they have the authority to issue bans on any specific media products, including video games, to comply with the country's legal and cultural values. The NMC do not usually explicitly state their actual consensus for any kind of issued ban on a product, so official reasons behind their bans remain unclear. However, bans issued by the NMC apply only to the sale of those products through local outlets; they do not make private ownership illegal. This acts as a loophole, allowing some retailers to continue selling banned video games via cyberspace (i.e. online shops), and the NMC does not strictly enforce their bans any further.[citation needed] There are certain exceptions, notably for Spec Ops: The Line (see below). Some banned games may be available and sold in the nation's grey market.

The following (incomplete list of) titles are banned from mainstream physical retail circulations.

Name Reason
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Banned likely due to suggestive and revealing outfits on some characters.[60]
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Banned possibly due to violence against Muslims. The ban has since been lifted.
Darksiders Banned likely due to contradicting with customs and traditions.[61] Its sequel, which feature similar themes, was released without issues however, and even had a localised print release for the PlayStation 3 version.
Dead Island & Dead Island: Riptide Banned likely due to "extreme depictions of violence and scantily-clad game characters."[62] Ban did not extend to digital versions of the games however.
Dead Rising 2 Banned likely due to violence, gambling, and nudity.[63] The ban has since been lifted for newer prints of the game.
Dragon Age: Origins Banned likely due to sexual themes, including having possible homosexual relationships.[64] The ban has since been lifted for the digital versions of the game.
Dragon Age II Banned likely due to sexual themes, including having possible homosexual relationships.
Fallout: New Vegas Banned likely due to gambling and sexual themes.[65]
The Godfather II Banned likely due to nudity.[66]
God of War series Banned likely due to high impact of violence, gore, and cruelty.
Grand Theft Auto series Banned likely due to high impact of violence and cruelty. Prior to Vice City, earlier titles were sold normally.
Heavy Rain Banned likely due to a sultry seduction scene.[67]
Injustice: Gods Among Us Despite being initially marketed for Middle Eastern distribution under the title Injustice: The Mighty Among Us, the game failed to surpass the NMC's censors for a period of time,[68] and was banned likely for the case package and on-disc software title itself being identical to its European release, with the term "God" retained (official reason not given however). The game had been demoed at various events in the U.A.E. without incident for many months prior to the official release date. The ban on the title had since been lifted though.[68]
Mafia II Banned likely due to excessive violence and nudity.[69] The ban has since been lifted for digital versions of the game.
Mass Effect 2 & 3 Banned likely due to possible homosexual relationships.[64]
Max Payne 3 Banned likely due to excessive violence and sexual themes.[70] Ban was issued roughly three weeks after official release date.
Red Dead Redemption Initially banned,[71] likely due to nudity. Ban later lifted circa two months after official release date.[72][73]
Saints Row: The Third & Saints Row IV Banned likely due to sexual themes, excessive violence, and for the use of drugs and alcohol.[74] Ban did not extend to digital versions of the games however.
Spec Ops: The Line Banned likely due to the game's fictional depiction of the U.A.E.'s real-life city of Dubai in a state of ravage and destruction. Unlike other banned games, the NMC had extended their focus for this title going far as to issue the TRA to block the game's official website[75] and subsequently stop the title's distribution throughout the rest of the GCC, as well as Jordan, and Lebanon.[76] Local retailers, such as Geekay Games, are not even able to sell the game via their online shops to U.A.E. residents.[77] Digital distribution platform Steam does not offer the game in the region, although that is likely the publisher's decision. It is currently unknown whether the game would be available via PSN's official Middle Eastern hub.
Catherine Banned likely due to sexual themes and nudity.
Watch Dogs Initially banned, and also withheld from regional distribution both physically and digitally, likely due to sexual themes, nudity, excessive violence, and for the use of drugs and alcohol. Despite the ban, the game continues to be visibly listed on digital platforms like Steam.[78] The game's local distributor had since confirmed that the title will be officially available in the U.A.E. and the rest of the region by August 15, 2014 for some platforms (PS3, PS4, XB360) and without any in-game alterations.[79] The official Xbox One version was not released until sometime after the console itself had its official launch in the region in September 2014 (albeit the console was already being imported and sold by various retailers prior to the official launch). The PC version remain unavailable however, consequently blocking access to the downloadable version on Steam.

United Kingdom[edit]

Games in the UK usually only receive a ban when they contain real sex scenes or extreme and gratuitous violence. PEGI age ratings are compulsory and are backed by legislation, taking effect on 30 July 2012.[80] It is illegal to sell, buy or rent (but legal to import) a game that has not been classified by an approved age rating organisation in the UK. This only applies to games stored on physical media, not to downloadable media.[81]

Name Reason
Carmageddon Was threatened with being refused certification in its uncut form. Was subsequently altered to replace humans with zombies.[82] The restriction was later lifted, and a patch was released to restore the original human content.
Manhunt 2 The uncut version was the only game to be refused classification by the BBFC (therefore banned), due to excessive violence.[83] After this, a modified version was made and submitted for certification - this was initially refused classification as well, but was allowed to be sold after an appeal (despite a successful challenge to this ruling).
The Punisher Despite the game already being the edited American release, it was threatened with being refused classification due to objectionable content: The interrogation scenes were deemed very high in impact and could cause harm to the public. The publishers made edits at the request of the BBFC to further mask these scenes,[84] and this final version received an 18 certificate.

United States[edit]

In 2005, due to the revelation that one model was 17 at the time of production, The Guy Game was "banned" due to existing pornography laws.[85]

Also, an arcade game, Sonic Blast Man, was recalled and banned (due to federal law prohibiting resale of recalled items) from American arcades due to safety issues surrounding the game's punching bag controller.[citation needed]

Venezuela[edit]

In November 2009, the Government of Venezuela announced that it would ban all video games in which the objective was to shoot people. The ban was due to widespread violence in the country.

The bill was later published in the public journal of that country on December 3[86] and gone into effect 3 months later,[87] March 3, 2010, making Venezuela the first country to completely ban violent videogames in the world and making their manufacturing, distribution, selling, rental, exhibition and use illegal. Even though the proponents were not from the Venezuelan Government's political party, Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), President Hugo Chávez supported the ban,[88] claiming there are some Internet games featuring him so players can "kill him"; and even calling video games consoles, including Nintendo DS and Sony's PlayStation, "poison" and values of the capitalism, which he considers "the road to hell".

According to reports of the Venezuelan National Guard, more than 13,000 objects, including violent video games, were destroyed to the date in the states of Lara[89] and Portuguesa.[90]

The ban is criticized by gamers and experts alike for its ambiguity and lack of clarity on its penalties, aside from being too harsh and indoctrinating a negative point of view.[91] On the other hand, Sony expressed their hopes for the government to make changes for the law for good.[92]

See also[edit]

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References[edit]

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  3. ^ "Supreme Court Violent Video Games Ruling: Ban On Sale, Rental To Children Unconstitutional". The Huffington Post. 2011-06-27. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
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  6. ^ AFP (2010-04-18). "Prohíben el videojuego 'Rapelay' en Argentina por apología de delitos sexuales" (in Spanish). Google News. Retrieved 2014-07-19. }
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  25. ^ Software for your Internet Cafe - Computer Games on the Index List, InterCafe
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