List of controversial video games

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This is a list of video games considered controversial. Some of the video games on this list have been banned or regionally censored.

Table of controversial games[edit]

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Release date Title Platform Developer Reason(s)
1973 Gotcha Arcade Atari Controversial due to the controls being perceived as pink rubber bulges that were meant to represent breasts and were squeezed in order to control the action.[1]
1976 Death Race Arcade Exidy The object of the game is to run over stickmen "gremlins", who then scream and are replaced by tombstones, which was perceived as violence.[2][3]
1982 Custer's Revenge Atari 2600 Mystique The game depicts a crudely rendered General Custer dodging arrows to reach a naked Native American woman tied to a cactus. For surviving, he was allowed to have sex with her, and received points for doing so. This quickly led to controversy regarding whether he was raping her, or if she participated willingly.[2][4][5]
19842009 Punch-Out!! Arcades, NES, SNES, Wii Nintendo, Next Level Games (2009 version) Numerous instances of racial stereotyping, mainly of the opponent boxers that the player fights.[6][7][8]
1985 International Karate Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Commodore 16, MS-DOS, MSX, ZX Spectrum System 3 Data East USA sued Epyx, the publisher of the game in the United States (under the name of World Karate Championship) due to similarities between International Karate and Data East's Karate Champ. Although the suit was dismissed,[9] Data East did obtain an injunction to prevent further sales of World Karate Championship, which was subsequently appealed and reversed.[10][11]
1986 177 [ja] NEC PC-8801 dB-soft A bishoujo game revolving around rape, it ignited a public furor that reached the National Diet of Japan.[12]
1986 Chiller Arcade, NES Exidy Senseless, gory victimization of innocent victims led arcade owners to widely reject it.[13]
1987 Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior Acorn Electron, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, ZX Spectrum Palace Software The cover art of the game, which featured bikini-clad Maria Whittaker, a model who was then associated with The Sun tabloid's Page Three topless photo shoots, and Michael Van Wijk, who was only wearing a loincloth, provoked outrage in the United Kingdom. Electron User magazine received letters from readers and religious bodies, who called the image "offensive and particularly insulting to women" and an "ugly pornographic advertisement".[14] Barbarian's violent content was also controversial and was banned in Germany by the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien because of it.[15]
1987 Super Monaco GP Arcade, Sega Genesis, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Game Gear, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum Sega Phillip Morris sued Sega (and some other video game companies, including Namco and Atari Games on behalf of their Final Lap game) because the arcade version of the game contains advertisements that resemble those for Marlboro cigarettes.[16][17]
1987–present Leisure Suit Larry series PC, PS2, Xbox, PS3, Xbox 360, Mobile phones, Android, iOS Sierra Entertainment Controversial for its obscenities and mature humor. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude was released on PC both censored and uncensored in the United States and was banned in Australia.[citation needed]
19882010 Splatterhouse series Arcade, Famicom, TurboGrafx-16, Sega Genesis, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, iOS, Nintendo Switch Namco Blood and gore, violence, and some questionable enemies. Critics described the game as "massive disappointment" and "violent, excessively gory brawler".[18]
1991 J.B. Harold Murder Club TurboGrafx-16 NEC Sexual themes, including reference to an unsolved rape.[19]
1992 Wolfenstein 3D DOS, SNES, 3DO, Atari Jaguar id Software Violence, gore, Nazi symbolism, and the inclusion of Adolf Hitler as the final boss.[20]
1992–present Mortal Kombat series Arcade, PC, Consoles, Mobile devices Midway (later Warner Bros. Interactive) Blood, violence and gore. First fighter to introduce "Fatalities" to finish off opponents.[2][4][5][21][22][23] When released for home console formats became the first "big budget" game to raise the issue of violence in the medium. Possible catalyst to the implementation of a rating system.
1992 Night Trap Sega CD Digital Pictures Violence, child abuse and sexual themes.[2][4][21]
1993 Fighter's History Arcade, SNES Data East Capcom sued Data East in the United States and Japan on grounds of copyright infringements pertaining to Street Fighter II property. The U.S. case was ruled in favor of Data East (which argued Karate Champ was the true originator of the competitive fighting game genre), as the "copied" elements were excluded from copyright,[24] similar to Apple's graphical user interface lawsuit against Microsoft.
1993 Doom PC, Atari Jaguar, SNES, Sega 32X, 3DO, Sega Saturn, PS1 id Software First-person violence, gore, and satanic themes.[2][5][21][22] Was once blamed for the Columbine High School massacre.
1996–present Pokémon series Game Boy, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, WiiWare, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, Nintendo Switch Nintendo, Game Freak Jynx, one of the series' titular creatures, came under heavy backlash following a 2000 article by Carole Boston Weatherford that accused its design of perpetrating blackface imagery.[25] The resulting controversy forced a drastic redesign of Jynx, changing its skin from black to purple and shrinking its eyes and mouth. The series was also attacked by fundamentalist Christian groups, who argued that it promoted Satanic themes. In response, the Vatican broadcast its public approval of Pokémon in April 2001, claiming that the game was based on "intense ties of friendship" and lacked "any harmful moral side effects."[26]
1996 SimCopter PC Maxis A programmer named Jacques Servin introduced unauthorized "himbo" characters into the game, who would appear on certain dates and kiss.[27]
1996 Duke Nukem 3D PC, Sega Saturn, PS1 3D Realms Violence, sexual themes, nudity.[28][29]
1996 Tomb Raider PC, Sega Saturn, PS1 Eidos An unauthorized software patch nicknamed "Nude Raider" was created by fans which allowed players to play as a nude version of Lara Croft.[30]
1996 Battlecruiser 3000AD PC 3000 AD The game's long, troubled development, including the claims of use of neural network for the game's AI in the game's marketing, was a subject of multiple, year-long flame wars across the Usenet, generating over 70,000 posts and number of web sites documenting the flame wars.[31]
1997 Shadow Warrior PC, Mac, iOS 3D Realms Controversial for "insensitive" and "inauthentic"[32] depictions of East Asian society and culture, although 3D Realms responded, saying that they did not intend to make a racist game but had deliberately used a melange of Asian culture in order to create a "fun game" which "didn't take itself too seriously" and parodied "bad kung fu movies".[32] Despite their response, such criticism had continued.[33]
1997 Carmageddon PC, Mac, N64, iOS, PS1 SCi, Interplay Entertainment Violence against pedestrians[34] and animals.
1997 Postal PC Running with Scissors Violence and anti-law, most of which is committed against civilians and authorities.[21]
1997–present Grand Theft Auto series PC, PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Shield Portable, Shield Tablet, Shield Android TV, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Android, iOS, Fire OS Rockstar Games Sexual themes, drug use, racism, nudity, language, drunk driving, violence (against civilians and law enforcement officers). Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was originally rated "Mature" in the U.S., but was re-rated "Adults Only" after controversy surrounding a fanmade Hot Coffee mod which unlocked a hidden sex scene (which was in the game's code, but left out of the final version). It was re-rated "Mature" after Rockstar Games removed this scene from the game's code.[35] In Grand Theft Auto V, one mission sees the character Trevor Phillips torturing another character in several different ways, including waterboarding, pulling out teeth and administering electrical shocks to the nipples.
1997 Formula 1 97 PC, PS1 Psygnosis The game was withdrawn from shops six weeks after its release due to legal wranglings with the FIA (Formula One's governing body) objecting to the use of the FIA logo on the game's packaging. It was re-released without the logo, but the FIA were still unhappy. However, the FIA lost a court case, and the game continued to be sold without the logo.[36]
1998 Thrill Kill PS1 Virgin Interactive After Electronic Arts acquired the assets of Virgin Interactive in mid-1998, it quickly cancelled the release of Thrill Kill (which was due to be released in time for the holiday season) due to objections over the game's high level of violent content.[citation needed]
1999 Kingpin: Life of Crime PC Interplay Entertainment Violence.[37]
2000 Dance Dance Revolution Solo Arcade Konami In 2002, a local arcade in San Diego, California removed a Solo 2000 machine after members of the local "Youth Advocacy Coalition" complained that the background movies of selected songs contained images that could promote drug and alcohol abuse, such as a scantily clad nurse and pills in "I'm Alive" and alcoholic drinks appearing in "Club Tropicana". The machine was replaced by a mix which did not contain the imagery.[38]
2000 Daikatana PC Ion Storm A highly controversial advertisement regarding John Romero's involvement with the game, which caused a highly publicized outrage.[39]
2000 Perfect Dark N64 Rare, Nintendo As the first M-rated published game by Nintendo, the release of Perfect Dark was met with controversy since Nintendo at the time was known for family-friendly video game franchises like Pokémon and Mario.[40]
2001 Conker's Bad Fur Day N64 Rare Controversial for its "over the top" and "lewd" humor.[41]
2001 Tear Ring Saga PS1 Tirnanog The game, whose development was spearheaded by Shouzou Kaga, the creator of Fire Emblem series, was subject to legal actions during and after development by Nintendo, which owned the Fire Emblem intellectual property (partly due to the game being released for a competitor console), although ultimately Nintendo was unable to stop the development or the sales of the game. Initially titled Emblem Saga during development, the game's name and other features were later changed to remove all direct references to Fire Emblem.[42]
2002 Shadow Man: 2econd Coming PlayStation 2 Acclaim An attempt to promote this video game involved placing advertisements on deceased people's gravestones.[43]
2002 Ethnic Cleansing PC Resistance Records Racially motivated violence, white supremacist themes.[44]
2002 Kaboom! Browser fabolous999 Players control a suicide bomber, the aim of the game being to kill as many people as possible.[45]
2002 State of Emergency PC, PS2, Xbox Rockstar Games Contains Columbine-style violence, including political assassinations and coup d'états. Additionally, the game caused controversy in Washington due to the game's similarities to the World Trade Organization riots in Seattle.[46]
2003 Postal 2 PC Running with Scissors Violence against pedestrians and police officers, racism, sexual themes, drug use, language, and animal cruelty. Banned in New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.[47]
2003 Manhunt PS2, PC, Xbox Rockstar Games Violence and gore. Manhunt gained significant controversy after it was alleged that the game inspired a teenager to commit a murder. Banned in Australia.[citation needed][citation needed]
2003 Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball Xbox Tecmo Many critics have commented that the game's use of female bodies is often ridiculous at best, and some have found it offensive.[48]
2003 Whiplash PlayStation 2, Xbox Crystal Dynamics The game had some controversy over the animal cruelty, mainly by the RSPCA.[citation needed]
2003 Laden VS USA Panyu Gaming Electronic Co. The game was based on the 9/11 incident in 2001 and the packaging used a 9/11 photograph.[49][50]
2004 The Sims 2 PC EA Games A player-made mod allowed for the blur effect that appears when a character is nude to be removed. However, the nude Sims are featureless.[51]
2004 JFK: Reloaded PC Traffic Software Puts the player in the role of Lee Harvey Oswald as he assassinates U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Criticized for its controversial content matter in recreating the assassination and was condemned by a spokesman for Senator Ted Kennedy as "despicable".[52]
2005 Super Columbine Massacre RPG! PC Danny Ledonne The game simulates the events of the Columbine High School massacre, having the player take on the roles of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and acting out the massacre.[53][54][55][56]
2005 Gun PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Xbox 360 Activision The game's offensive depictions of American Indians prompted the Association for American Indian Development to call a boycott against the game.[57]
2005 The Punisher PC, PS2, Xbox Volition Interrogation, torture, intense gun fights, drugs, and killing with no mercy. Originally merited an "Adults Only" rating before being edited on appeal.[58][59][60][61]
2006 Bully PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Wii, iOS, Android, Shield Android TV, Shield Tablet, Shield Portable Rockstar Games Based upon its title, it was perceived that Bully glorified bullying. That the main character Jimmy could also kiss another boy was a matter of controversy.[62] Classification boards generally restricted Bully to a teenage audience: the US-based Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) classified the game with a T rating,[63] the British Board of Film Classification gave it a 15 rating, the Australian Classification Board rated it M,[64] and the New Zealand OFLC restricted it to persons 13 years of age and over. In 2007, Yahoo! Games listed it as one of the top ten controversial games of all time.[65]
2006 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Xbox 360, PC, PS3 Bethesda Softworks Re-rated to "Mature" by the ESRB after a third-party mod revealed a nude topless graphic hidden in the game's data files. While the graphic did not warrant a re-rating of the game in and of itself, upon review, the ESRB noted that the game contained much more explicit violence than had been submitted to them in the original rating submission.[66]
2006 Hitman: Blood Money PC, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3 IO Interactive Violence and assassinations; magazine ads for the game featured pictures depicting murder victims.[67]
2006 Mind Quiz Nintendo DS, PSP Ubisoft Recalled in the United Kingdom due to use of the word "spastic", which is considered highly offensive in the UK.[68]
2006 Left Behind: Eternal Forces PC Left Behind Games Accusations that the game promoted religious "convert or kill" violence, sexism and racism.[69][70][71] Some reviewers[72][73][74] denied that the game contained any truly controversial gameplay.
2006 Resistance: Fall of Man PS3 Insomniac Games The Church of England objected to the game's use of Manchester Cathedral's interior as a backdrop during a gun battle, and called for the game to be withdrawn or for the cathedral to be removed from the game.[75]
2006 RapeLay PC Illusion Soft Rape is a core part of the gameplay, as the player takes on the role of a chikan who stalks, and subsequently rapes a mother and her two daughters, at least one of whom is underage. Three years after its initial release, significant controversy was raised in the UK Parliament and elsewhere, and Equality Now eventually pressured its distributor to withdraw distribution of it in Japan.[76]
2006 Rule of Rose PS2 Punchline The mayor of Rome called for the game to be banned from Italy, saying children "have the right to be shielded from violence".[77] The then European Union justice and security commissioner wrote an open letter condemning the game for "obscene cruelty and brutality". An Italian magazine, Panorama, claimed that in order to win the game players must bury a girl alive, which the game's European publisher disputed.[78] On the UK release day, the publisher announced that Rule of Rose would not be published in the UK, despite the game being approved for release by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) and Video Standards Council regulatory bodies.[79]
2007 BioShock Xbox 360, PC , PS3 2K Games An article in The Patriot Ledger, the local paper of developer Irrational Games,[80] argued that the game is "testing the limits of the ultraviolent gaming genre with a strategy that enables players to kill characters resembling young girls."[81] The game presents an ethical choice to players, whether to kill 'Little Sisters' for extra abilities or save them and receive less. President of 2K Boston Ken Levine defended the game as a piece of art, stating "we want to deal with challenging moral issues and if you want to do that, you have to go to some dark places".[82] Jack Thompson took issue with advertisements for the game appearing during WWE SmackDown's airtime, writing to the Federal Trade Commission and stating that M-rated games should not be advertised when large numbers of under-17s are watching.[83]
2007 Manhunt 2 PS2, PSP, PC, Wii Rockstar Games Manhunt 2 has been labeled as possibly the most violent video game ever made and is infamous for being one of only four video games to have received an "Adults Only" rating due to violence, with the other three being The Punisher, Hatred, and Agony. Further controversy surrounds the Wii version due to the fact that it actually simulates the violence through motion control, dubbing it the name "murder simulator".[4][21][84]
2007 Mass Effect PS3, Xbox 360, PC BioWare Falsely accused by evangelical blogger Kevin McCullough of containing "rape and sodomy", which later led to the removal of McCullough's blog entry on The game was featured on the Fox News Channel following the controversy,[85] with host Martha MacCallum, which included the headline "full graphic sex".[86] In actuality, the game's most explicit content is an indirect "sideboob" shot of a humanoid alien breast.[87]
2007 Mario Party 8 Wii Nintendo Use of the phrase "Turn the train spastic! Make this ticket tragic!" by the character Kamek caused controversy in the United Kingdom, where the word spastic is considered offensive. This led to a recall of the game; it was later re-released with the word changed to erratic.[88]
2008 Spore PC Maxis Spore's use and implementation of SecuROM digital rights management, including the game's activation policies, was subject of widespread criticism and lawsuits; the game was listed as the most pirated game of 2008.[89][90][91][92][93]
2008 Muslim Massacre PC Eric 'Sigvatr' Vaughn The game's contents and subject have been the subject of strong negative response; a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said "The makers of this 'game' and the ISPs (Internet service providers) who are hosting it should be quite ashamed of themselves. Anti-Muslim prejudice is already on the increase and needs to be challenged and not reinforced through tasteless and offensive stunts like this."[94]
2008 Invaders! Douglas Edric Stanley An art game exhibited at the 2008 Games Convention in Leipzig. It represents the September 11 attacks in the style of Space Invaders. Players move their bodies to move the cannon and use arm movements to fire.[95] Like the original Space Invaders, death (game over) is inevitable.[96] Many people considered it tasteless and inappropriate, and Taito threatened legal action for unauthorized use of Space Invaders content.[97] The creator later pulled the game.[97]
2008 Silent Hill: Homecoming PS3, PC, Xbox 360 Double Helix Games Was banned and refused to get a rating in Australia and Germany for extreme violence and disturbing images which included graphic sexuality, copious blood spray in the game, decapitations, partially dismembered corpses, and numerous scenes of attacks, fights, torture and death.[98] The Australian version was subsequently released with the MA15+ rating and censored graphics, while the Japanese release was cancelled altogether.[citation needed]
2008 LittleBigPlanet PS3 Media Molecule Lyrics from a licensed song, "Tapha Niang", were removed due to fears that Muslims would be offended as it allegedly contained words from the Quran. This led to controversy about the removal itself.[99]
2008 Too Human Xbox 360 Silicon Knights The game was revealed to developed using a stolen version of Unreal Engine 3, following a successful counter-suit by Epic Games (makers of the Unreal Engine), Silicon Knights having initially sued Epic Games for "breach of contract".[100][101] In November 2012, the counter-suit were ruled in favor of Epic Games, forcing Silicon Knights to recall and destroy all copies of the game and another Unreal Engine-developed game, X-Men: Destiny, as well as cancelling other titles that had been planned to use the engine.[102][103]
2008 Limbo of the Lost PC Majestic Studios The game's use of plagiarized assets from other games and movies prompted it's publishers, Tri Synergy, to stop publishing the game.[104]
2009 MadWorld Wii PlatinumGames The game's extreme, over-the-top violence has led to much criticism, and has been described by the Daily Mail as the "most violent video game ever". Also, the Nintendo Wii has been long-perceived as little more than a "family-friendly" console, and as a result, many parental organizations have condemned the game's release exclusively on the Wii.[105]
2009 Resident Evil 5 PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Shield Android TV, Shield Portable, Shield Tablet Capcom The game came under controversy for a pre-release trailer that contains scenes of racism,[106] according to Newsweek journalist N'Gai Croal in an April 2008 interview. He also stated that organizations and retailers would object to the game and that it would cause controversy on release.[106]
2009 Saw PS3, Xbox 360, PC Konami Several news publishings stated that the game's only purpose was to torture and kill people in violent ways with no sense of restraint or morality. Some editorials called it "depraved and inhumane" and stated that "Konami should be ashamed".[107] It was also listed in the "Top ten most controversial games of 2009".[108]
2009 Left 4 Dead 2 Xbox 360, PC (Steam) Valve Corporation The cover art in the UK had to be altered due to a potentially offensive hand gesture being depicted.[109] The game was banned in Australia for its excessive violence and gore, but the uncensored version was later rated R18+ in 2014.[110] The game's New Orleans setting so soon after Hurricane Katrina was considered "a bad call".[111]
2009 Fat Princess PlayStation 3
PlayStation Portable
Titan Studios Feminists argued that the game concept and title was hostile to women.[112]
2009 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Infinity Ward A optional mission in the game entitled "No Russian" has the player assume control of an undercover Central Intelligence Agency operative, joining a group of Russian nationalist terrorists who perpetrate an airport massacre. The player is given the option to skip it at any point,[113][114] and a warning before the campaign also notifies players of the disturbing material. The game was discussed briefly in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom after the issue was brought to the attention of MP Keith Vaz, a longtime opponent of violence in video games, with fellow Labour Party politician Tom Watson arguing that the level was "no worse than scenes in many films and books" and criticising Vaz for "collaborating with the Daily Mail to create moral panic over the use of video games".[115] The mission was made optional before release[116] and removed from the game entirely.[117]

Activision later removed the Favela multiplayer map from Modern Warfare 2 following complaints from Muslim gamers, which shows picture frames on the second floor bathroom of one building within Favela. When viewed through a scoped weapon, the frames contain a quote from Muhammad that translates to "Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty", according to Islam Today. One of the paintings is located directly above a toilet.[118]

2010 Medal of Honor PS3, Xbox 360, PC Danger Close Games, EA Digital Illusions CE The multiplayer mode created controversy when it was revealed that players could play as the Taliban.[119] The developers responded by stating the reality of the game necessitated it, but due to pressure from various military officials and veterans organizations, the word Taliban was removed from the multiplayer part of the game in which players would directly play as the Taliban, instead replaced with the term "Opposing Force." However, even in light of this change, the game is still not to be sold on military bases. The AAFES Commander Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella said, "Out of respect to those touched by the ongoing, real-life events presented as a game, Exchanges will not be carrying this product." He continued, "I expect the military families who are authorized to shop the Exchange are aware, and understanding, of the decision not to carry this particular offering."[120][121]
2010 Six Days in Fallujah PS3, Xbox 360, PC Atomic Games The game was opposed by both the public and critics alike for "glamorizing" and "glossing over" the real-life Second Battle of Fallujah. This caused the former publisher, Konami, to stop publishing it.[122]
2011 Bulletstorm PS3, Xbox 360, PC Electronic Arts Fox News Channel called out the title as the "Worst Video Game in the World" due to the extreme amount of violence; claims made in the original article were dispelled by video game journalists including Rock Paper Shotgun, but Fox News continues to assert the game as too violent.[123]
2011 Portal 2 PS3, Xbox 360, PC Valve Corporation CBS News has deemed the game offensive to adopted children because Wheatley insults the protagonist by saying "Fatty fatty no parents". The daughter of the parents who reported this is in fact, adopted.[124]
2011 Call of Juarez: The Cartel PS3, Xbox 360, PC Ubisoft Residents of Ciudad Juárez and Mexico protested the announcement of the game, believing it to highlight the Juárez Cartel, who are believed responsible for over 3000 homicides in the city in 2010.[125]
2011 Dead Island PS3, Xbox 360, PC Deep Silver After a development build of the game was released on Steam by mistake, it was revealed that the skill 'Gender Wars' (which the character Purna uses) was called 'FeministWhorePurna' within the game's code. Developer Deep Silver apologised and released a patch for the game to replace the offensive name.[126]
2011 Star Citizen PC Cloud Imperium Games A crowdfunded game, Star Citizen have attracted criticism for the constant, frequent delays of the game's release deadlines, while continuing to raise additional funds,[127][128] with the developers facing legal actions from Derek Smart[129] and CryTek.[130]
2012 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive PS3, Xbox 360, PC (Steam) Valve Corporation In 2016, the game came under fire on the grounds of several players using third party betting through the use of skin gambling, where players sell in-game cosmetics for real currency. This led to concerns of potential underage players participating in skin gambling, which may lead to future gambling addictions, as well as the potential of match fixing within the game's competitive scene (see iBuyPower and NetcodeGuides match fixing scandal). Valve has since ordered a cease and desist against many Counter-Strike gambling websites.[131][132]
2012 Medal of Honor: Warfighter PS3, Xbox 360, PC Danger Close Games Seven members of Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) who worked as consultants for the game were disciplined for releasing classified information to the game's creators.[133][134]
2012 Street Fighter X Tekken PS3, Xbox 360, PC, iOS, PlayStation Vita Capcom, Dimps It was revealed that the game's downloadable characters were already on the disc in a ready-to-unlock form, leading to heavy criticism.[135][136]
2012 Persona 4 Arena PS3, Xbox 360 Atlus, Arc System Works The PlayStation 3 version of the game includes a regional lockout, allowing the game to be played only if the game's region matches the console region, despite the fact that PlayStation 3 games are normally region-free, leading to a massive fan outrage.[137][138] The game's sequel, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax however was region-free.[139]
2012 Mass Effect 3 PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U BioWare While critically acclaimed overall, the ending of Mass Effect 3 was highly criticized as, among other issues, rendered all the decisions players had made in the trilogy, carried over through save files, moot, in contrast to marketing material BioWare had put forth for the game.[140] Due to a large reaction from the player base, BioWare released free downloadable content that provided a more cinematic ending sequence that addressed some of these concerns.[141]
2013 Payday 2 PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch Overkill Software Payday 2, while having featured a large array of downloadable content, had been claimed by its developers would never include microtransactions. However, a major game update released in October 2015 included rewards that required the player to use real-world money to purchase keys to unlock, and with rewards that may not be usable if the player did not buy certain pieces of downloadable content. Fans of the game reacted negatively to the change.[142] In May 2016, Overkill was able to acquire full rights to the Payday series, and among other announcements relating to the series, announced they would remove the microtransactions from Payday 2.[143]
2013 Tomb Raider PS3, Xbox 360, PC Crystal Dynamics During an interview with Kotaku, executive producer Ron Rosenberg stated that one scene in the game depicts Lara Croft about to be sexually assaulted by a scavenger. She is forced to fight back and kill him in return. Prior to the game's release, this quickly led to controversy concerning the possible "attempted rape" sequence. Studio manager Darrell Gallagher later denied this, stating that one of "the character defining moments for Lara in the game, which has incorrectly been referred to as an 'attempted rape' scene is the content we showed" where "Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time. In this particular selection, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly. Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."[144][145]
2013 Saints Row IV Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC Volition Despite changes in the Australian Classification Board to adopt rules to use the R18+ rating for video games in January 2013, Saints Row IV was the first video game under these new rules to be denied classification, due to the presence of drug use and an in-game alien anal probe weapon.[146] Volition eliminated these elements from the game to obtain a MA15+ rating by removing the mission these elements were used in,[147] rendering the game's co-operative mode incompatible with versions from other countries.[148]
2013 The Stanley Parable PC Galactic Cafe An in-game instructional video called "Choice" contained an image of a white man lighting a black child on fire.[149]
2014 South Park: The Stick of Truth Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC Obsidian Entertainment,
South Park Digital Studios
The game was censored (by Ubisoft's decision) in Europe and Australia due to its depiction of an anal probing by aliens and the player-character performing an abortion. In their place, the game displays a still image of a statue holding its face in its hand, with an explicit description of events depicted in the scene. The German version was specifically censored because of the use of Nazi- and Hitler-related imagery, including swastikas and Nazi salutes, which in that country are outlawed outside of the context of "art or science, research or teaching"[150]. The PC version remains completely uncut in Europe.[151]
2015 Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number PC Dennaton Games The sequel, like the first Hotline Miami, incorporates a large amount of violence as the player sets to kill off agents of the local mafia, but a preview build for the sequel includes a scene that is set up where the player's character then appears to rape a female antagonist, though this is later presented in the context of being part of a staged movie scene. Journalists felt that even though the game made it clear of the scene's setup, the inclusion of this scene went too far in taste levels.[152] Despite some changes and assurances made by the developer, the scene in the game caused the Australian Classification Board to refuse to classify the game, effectively preventing legal sale of the title in that country.[153]
2015 Hatred PC Destructive Creations A game about a suicidal mass murderer, in which the primary mechanic is about shooting innocent civilians in the murderer's fit of rage. The CEO behind Hatred has been accused of having neo-Nazi, anti-Islamic affiliations due to liking some pages on Facebook related to such beliefs.[154] The title has been highly controversial, and when the developers attempted to place it on the Steam Greenlight service, it was pulled by Valve due to the game's content; however, it has been brought back onto Greenlight by Gabe Newell, and later apologized for the removal.[155] The game was rated "Adults Only" (AO) by the ESRB, which prevents retail sales and its release on consoles and would likely prevent its sale on digital storefronts for personal computers.[156]
2015 Playing History 2: Slave Trade PC Serious Games The game was created by Serious Games as an edutainment title to teach the user about slave trading. One game mode in the title was called "Slave Tetris", with the goal to try to fit as many African slaves on a boat, using gameplay similar to Tetris; the developer had intended to show how inhumane the slave traders were and how such trade boats were packed to capacity, stating "it really gets people to think about just how absurd and cruel it is". When the mode was discovered by a wider audience due to discounted sales of the game and Let's Play broadcasts of it, many critics expressed distaste for the mode, considering it to be highly insensitive. The developer pulled the mode from the game following this outrage.[157]
2015 Survival Island 3 iOS and Android NIL Entertainment A first-person action game in which the fair-skinned player-character has to fight and kill Indigenous Australians as well as Australian fauna. After a petition, the game was pulled from the App Store and Google Play.[158]
2015 Pakistan Army Retribution Android A first-person shooter game, based upon the 2014 Peshawar school massacre. Developed as part of the Peaceful Pakistan peace campaign, the game allowed the player to control a soldier during the attack and kill Taliban terrorists. After a negative review on the website of newspaper DAWN, calling the game to be of "poor taste",[159] other people also outed their criticism.[160] The game was subsequently pulled from the Google Play Store in January 2016.
2016 Overwatch Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Blizzard Entertainment A team-based multiplayer shooter includes a number of unique characters, and matches concluded with the winning character doing one of several possible victory poses that can be selected by the player. Some players found that the victory pose for one character, a young woman named Tracer who is also shown on the game's cover art, was overtly sexual and reduced the character to a "bland female sex symbol".[161] Blizzard removed the offending pose, replacing it with a pin-up model-inspired pose.[162]
2016 Street Fighter V PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows Capcom, Dimps An update for the PC version of the game released in September 2016 included a device driver named Capcom.sys, as a part of the game's anti-cheat measures, which was seen by players and security analysts as a rootkit. Capcom has since provided a rollback.[163] In 2017, an update which added M. Bison's classic Street Fighter II stage was taken down after fans noticed Islamic chants in what was actually a Buddhist temple.[164]
2016 Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Microsoft Windows Beamdog Siege of Dragonspear is an expansion atop Beamdog's Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, itself a remastering of the original 1998 game, providing a narrative to explain events between Baldur's Gate and its sequel. Though the game was criticized by players on its release due to a number of software bugs, a controversy arose at what was perceived as a forced political agenda by the developers, in particular the inclusion of a transgender character.[165]
2016 Pokémon Go iOS, Android Niantic, Inc., Nintendo Pokémon Go gained significant controversy after the game allegedly inspired criminals to commit robberies using the augmented reality feature. CNN reported that the geolocation feature was used for robbers to find and capture victims.[166]
2016 Persona 5 PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 Atlus Atlus spoiler policy for the game, including the disabling of native streaming of the game, as well as threatening takedowns of users posting videos of the game's endgame, were highly criticized by the game's fans.[citation needed]
2017 Fight of Gods Microsoft Windows PQube Fight of Gods was designed as a satirical fighting game between various religious and mythical god or god-like figures. In September 2017, after Jesus was added as a playable character, the government of Malaysia considered the game "blasphemous", demanded Valve remove the game from Steam, and had its ISPs temporarily block the country's access to Steam. Valve eventually blocked sale of the game in Malaysia, allowing the service to be restored in the country.[167][168]
2017 Star Wars Battlefront II Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Electronic Arts In November 2017, Battlefront II received unfavorable critical attention when its loot box monetization scheme during its open beta period was revealed, which many felt was a "pay-to-win" scheme since some loot box rewards directly influenced multiplayer gameplay. Electronic Arts revisited the loot box approach prior to launch to address those concerns.[169] Just before the game's full launch, it was revealed that many of the playable heroes in the game would be locked until the player had earned enough in-game credits over time, or spent money on microtransactions to unlock them faster, raising further player criticism. Electronic Arts attempted to justify the change on the game's subforum at Reddit but it was met with outrage, making that comment the most down-voted Reddit post of all time.[170] Hours before the game's release, EA temporarily disabled all microtransactions for the game to review concerns by players and rework these in-currency systems after launch.[171]
2018 Standoff (video game) Microsoft Windows Revived Games Originally titled Active Shooter, the game was developed by Revived Games and is to be published by Acid Games in June 2018 on Steam. The game presented a first-person shooter based on a fictional school shooting scenario, with the game's description stating that the player can chose to be the SWAT team member to take down the suspects, or the students firing on the school. The game, which appeared on Steam shortly following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February 2018, came under criticism from students, parents, and politicians, directing concern towards the developers, publisher, and Valve for trying to profit off an emotional distressing situation.[172] Before the game could be released, Valve pulled the game and the developer from Steam, citing prior issues with "asset reuse" games by the developer and manipulation of Steam reviews.[173]
2018 Agony PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch Madmind Studio A dark fantasy survival horror video game that puts players into the perspective of a tormented soul within the depths of Hell devoid of any memories about his/her past. The special ability to control people on their path, and possess weak-minded demons, gives players the necessary measures to survive in the extreme conditions they are in.[174] Agony is infamous for being one of only four games to have received the "Adults Only" rating from ESRB due to violence and other extreme graphic content (including gay and lesbian sex scenes and genital physics), following The Punisher, Manhunt 2, and Hatred. The game was rerated "Mature" after the developers agreed to tone down the violence, which also led to PEGI rating the game 18. A planned "Adults Only" unrated patch for PC was later dropped due to "legal issues".[175] However, on June 6, 2018, the developers said they were "talking with Steam representatives" about offering Agony Unrated as "a separate title produced and published by Madmind Studio and without the involvement of any publishers." For those who already own the original game, this version will be either free DLC or a separate purchase at 99% off, which currently is the highest possible discount on Steam's platform.[176] After announcing the financial problems of the company and canceling the Unrated version of the game, the basic game docked on August 1, 2018, with a considerable amount of updates on the platforms on which it debuted.[177]
2018 Bolsomito 2K18 PC BS Studios Bolsomito 2K18, a brawler game where the player fights "the evils of communism" and "the growing corruption and inversion of values that plages [sic] his society", according to its description, while in game, this is represented as attacking women, minorities, and LGBTQ persons. The game was released on Steam two days prior to the October 2018 Brazilian general election, where one of the candidates in the election was Jair Bolsonaro, which served as inspiration for the game's name. Bolsonaro was considered a far right candidate in the election and led after the first round of voting. The Brazilian Public Ministry of the Federal District and Territories has opened an investigation on both Valve and BS Studios, stating the that game and its close release to the elections "clearly intends to harm [the] Presidency of the Republic and thereby embarrass the 2018 elections" and "cause collective moral damages to the movements social, gays and feminists".[178][179]
2018 Diablo Immortal iOS/Android Blizzard Entertainment Diablo Immortal, a mobile game port was announced at the 2018 Blizzcon event, with Blizzard having teased something Diablo related in the weeks prior. Upon the announcement, fans at the event booed the presentation, and other fans took to social media to express discontentment with the announcement. Complaints from games ranged from concern that Diablo Immortal was a re-skin of a previous game developed by NetEase (who are also developing Immortall), to issues related to Blizzard long-time fans of the series by not releasing Diablo 4 on computer or home console. The situation was further stressed when Kotaku had claimed that inside sources told them that Blizzard had pulled a Diablo 4 announcement at the last minute, which Blizzard refuted the next day.[180][181][182]


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