There is a long, long (LONG) list of games that got banned for various reasons. From extreme violence, to sexual assault, to general insensitivity of the culture of that particular country, there are a lot of reasons to ban video games. There are also a lot of countries out there with stricter rules than we have in North America. When it comes to censorship, America is pretty lax and while the debate is still up for how much violence in video games translates to violence in adults, we have our rating system to deal with that. However, some games are just so horrific they are deemed AO or un-rateable. Which means it probably isn’t going to be sold at your local GameStop. Censorship is still a touchy subject and can get a lot of people very mad very quickly. So we're not here to take a side, but just point our which games have been banned!
Again this list could go on for pages, but I summarized it to the most insane games banned, either because it’s insane why they were banned or it’s insane that someone would actually make that video game.
We’re starting this off on a funny note. While you’ll see Rockstar on this list again, it’s for an entirely different reason than why Bully was pulled from the shelves in Brazil. It wasn’t for violence, but instead where it took place. The country was upset that it took place in a school. They thought this was inappropriate and that it would incite violence in the educational system. Other countries simply renamed the game to Canis Canem Edit, which translates to “dog eat dog.” I suppose they were trying to put some distance between the game and the word “bully” since it has become such a buzz word in the educational system.
14 Pokemon Trading Card Game
That’s right, Pokemon has made it to this list. The Pokemon Trading Card Game, more specifically, and in Saudi Arabia. Now, why in the world would anyone have anything to say against animals battling each other (I’m kidding here. I absolutely love Pokemon, but you have to admit it can get pretty dark in the right lighting)? It was actually banned because there are little geometric symbols that represent the Pokemon’s power. One of these is a little six sided star (which I think looks more like an asterisk). that leaders said was the Jewish Star of David and represented “Zionism.” They also banned it for promoting gambling. Now, I haven’t played the trading card game, but I can tell you I spent a lot of hours in that gambling casino trying to get enough coins to buy a Dratini.
13 Grand Theft Auto
Now we all know why people would ban any of the Grand Theft Auto games, from extreme violence, to burglary to prostitution, as it isn’t a game for the weak of mind or strong of censorship. But it was banned in Thailand for a very real reason. Around 2008, there was a news story going around about an 18-year-old high-schooler who killed his taxi driver in an attempt to recreate the game. Apparently the teenager didn’t have enough money to play the game at home and most likely played it at internet cafes, like many youth in Thailand. He reportedly said he wanted to see if it was as easy to kill in real life as it was in the game.
12 Command & Conquer: Generals
This is a real-time strategy game released in the early 2000s that was banned in China for very specific reasons. The game opens up with a terrorist organization bombing Beijing. Then part of Hong Kong. Oh yeah, and the Three Gorges Bridge as well. Sounds like one of those developers of the game really didn’t like China. America and China are depicted as allies, but you can play as the terrorist group, the Global Liberation Army, as well.
Now you can kind of see why China would be upset over such a game, considering there's also an option to bomb Tiananmen Square. Even the Chinese people that managed to get their hands on a copy illegally are upset. It's understandable, as most Americans would probably be upset if a game started out with a bombing of Central Park and then the Golden Gate Bridge, or any other iconic American symbols.
11 EA Sports MMA
Okay, this one has me in stitches. You’d think that a game that is based on violence would be banned due to said violence, but in Denmark, they are taking a much more interesting stance; Energy-drink advertisement. Specifically Rockstar Energy. It’s all over the game, from the arena floor to the participants pants. In Denmark, advertisements for energy drinks are illegal. The really crazy thing is that instead of saying “Yeah cool, our bad, let’s just stick a different logo over this,” EA decided to just not sell the game in Denmark, citing their desire to keep the original creativity of the game, rather than changing it to suit the needs of one country. I’m guessing it was more likely that they didn’t want to lose their big sponsor for that game.
10 The Guy Game
Not many games get banned in the United States, but this game managed to get on that illustrious list. In 2004, a game was released from, the appropriately named, Topheavy Studios. It’s called The Guy Game and you play as a guy on spring break, answering trivia questions from drunken girls. Cute, right? Well the big kicker is when you get a question right, the game has those girls showing off their breasts. Talk about classical conditioning. Get a question right, see a breast. Well, as gross as it sounds, it gets grosser. One of the girls in the game claimed that she did not give Topheavy the rights to use her in their game. On top of that, she was seventeen in the topless shot, making her a minor, also making it child-you-know-what. So not only did they take footage without consent, they filmed a minor. That’s messed up.
9 The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Australia rating system for games includes “Refused Classification” as one of its rating. Basically that means that it’s just straight up banned, and that rating means no selling. The cited reason for The Witcher 2 getting that the rating? “Sex as a reward.” Apparently in a side quest, your character can have sex as a reward for completing said quest. Namco Bandai, the developers, decided to do some tweaking to get the game a MA15+ rating, which means it could be sold again. They made it so the main character in question automatically refuses the ‘reward’, so that the whole situation is avoided. Thanks to this minor adjustment, the game is sold in Australia, just not as we know it in North America.
8 Mass Effect
In most BioWare games, you can romance whoever you want and it’s part of why I love them. Want to play as a woman and romance a blue alien? Go for it! Well, Singapore was not as down with this idea. They banned the game due to the lesbian, romance scene. That being said, they also ban most video-games for any kind of nudity and even stated that ‘homosexuals don’t get special treatment.’ Then again, there was also a ban on gay sex in the country at this time, so I’m not surprised they had a problem with the, albeit tame, sex scene between the Commander and the female alien. Personally, that is my favorite part about BioWare games and I love flirting with every species and gender you can.
7 Football Manager 2005
Why would anyone be upset with something so inane as a game called Football Manager? Well, China was very upset when they found out that in the game, Taiwan and Tibet were listed as separate countries from China. That awkward moment when a football game steps into a pile of international political turmoil. Whoops. The Chinese government stated it "threatened its content harmful to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity ... [that] seriously violates Chinese law and has been strongly protested by our nation's gamers.” Sega’s rebuttal was that the game, when it was released in China, had TIbet and Taiwan as part of China. The game with them separate was never translated in Chinese and was never meant to be sold in China. Which means someone was downloading and selling it illegally. Not sure who’s really at fault here…
6 Manhunt 2
You’ll notice a pattern here with Rockstar appearing again and again on this list. In 2007 the game was banned in Britain due to its over the top violence. If you want to brutally murder someone and see all the gore and viscera involved, then Manhunt and its sequel are the games for yiu. It turns out that Britain already had a beef with the Manhunt series after the original was connected to a murder (it was later acquitted). In the United States, they had to cut back a lot of that gore due to the fact that it got an AO (Adults Only) rating and both PlayStation and Wii refused to have something with that rating running on their systems.
5 Custer’s Revenge
It's time to get old school and totally deplorable. In 1982, someone decided to make an “adult” Atari game. One might wonder how you could even make such a game with the pixelated graphics of the era. Yet, they managed to make a game that had both sexual assault and racism. You play as Custer, who has his pants down with a visible pixelated erection, dodging arrows shot by Native Americans, all so you can reach the Native American woman tied to a pole and then sexually assault her. How messed up is that? Atari even ended up suing the company, Mystique, who made it, but they said the ‘maiden’ was a “willing participant.” The game was only banned in Oklahoma City and, in the end, the game sold around 80,000 copies and the controversy gave it fuel.
4 Postal 2
If you know about the Postal games, you know that the point is really how degrading and psychotic they can get. This was a no-go for the country of New Zealand, who decided that this kind of game wasn't for them or their citizens. They cited, "crass sense of racist, sexist, and homophobic humor in its treatment of homosexuals, Asians, militant Islamists, conservatives, and others” as their reason for not wanting the game in their borders. The game developers, Running with Scissors, rebutted that in Lord of the Rings you could kill all kinds of things, but ‘somehow peeing on yourself was degrading’? Did I mention there was a key you can press to pee at will?
3 KZ Manager
This game is another that reached serious levels of messed up. You play as a Concentration Camp director who is in charge of resources and killing. Can you guess who banned it? If you guessed Germany, you’d be right. The country was quick to distance themselves for obvious reasons. However, it did manage to win the “Most Unnecessary Game of the Year” award in the 2001 IGN Awards. Let’s also not forget the Nazi flag flying in the distance. Germany won’t let Wolfstein go because of Nazi imagery and this game just went above and beyond the call of gross. When you boil it down, it’s just a resource management game with a really edgy skin. Talk about unnecessary.
Similar to Command and Conquer: General, Homefront dips its toes into some questionable territory and the parties involved banned it. Set in the year 2027, the game takes place two years into the North Korean occupation of America. The writers even worked with CIA officer Tae Kim to get the (hypothetical) horrific details right, so that the nightmarish scenario was grounded in real-life. Kae says that, in the game, North Korea takes over South Korea and then proceeds to invade Hawaii and slowly the rest of America. In the game, you play as American resistors to the North Korean occupation. For obvious reasons, this game was banned in South Korea. Too close too home.
1 Saints Row IV
Saints Row IV was banned in Australia for a variety of reasons, from sexual violence to the use of narcotics (albeit alien narcotics, but they are still drugs). The more specific details lie with the weapon cleverly named the “Alien Anal Probe.” It does exactly what you think it does. As you approach a person, you shove it up their butt, push a button and the person is launched into the air, pants torn in the anus region. As the ACB report stated, "a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification."
Although it had nothing on Saints Row III’s dildo weapon...
The ban was later removed when the mission that had that gun was removed from the game.