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10 huge video games that are banned around the world

There have always been people who have it out for video games. Whether they’re picking on the violence of Mortal Kombat, or the sexual content of GTA, there will always be some people in power that blame video games for all of the world’s evils. Nowadays, it doesn’t usually amount to much, but every now and then a game will make a major mistake, or fail to comply with an obscure law that causes it to be banned in some countries.

We’ve picked out a bunch of very popular games that have seen global success, but certain parts of the game have been altered, censored, or completely banned from sale in specific countries.

Fallout 3 - India

The majority of these stories involve governments censoring or banning games, but this is a case of self-censorship from Microsoft, which decided not to release the game in India. This is because of the animal, Brahmin, which is a mutant two-headed cow. In Hinduism – the majority religion in India – the cow is seen as a sacred symbol of life, so it may have been offensive to that audience, especially as it is named after a Hindu castle.

Crash Bandicoot 2 - Japan

If it wasn’t for Japan, the video game industry may never have reached the heights it has today, but that doesn’t stop them from telling a gaming icon like Crash Bandicoot to shape up and get in line. In the original version of the game, an animation existed where Crash’s body is squashed and he becomes a floating head with some feet.

Unfortunately, Japan has been unwilling to show decapitation in media since 1997 when a school child beheaded another and left it outside their school. This little animation may seem innocuous, but it was enough to raise the eyebrows of people in power, so it was changed to depict the squashed body as well.

South Park: The Stick of Truth - Australia

Australia is renowned for being stricter than most countries English-speaking countries in terms of what they do and don’t allow. Their classifications board has a rating above the standard R18 called X18, where it is illegal for anyone under 18 to own it, regardless of what their parents think. It will also occasionally dish out the rating RC, which stands for “refused classification”, essentially preventing it from being sold.

Games from Silent Hill to Saint’s Row have received this rating, but the most high profile is South Park: The Stick of Truth, which was initially refused classification but was eventually allowed to be sold under the condition that a scene of “sexual violence involving minors” was removed. In true South Park fashion, the scene was replaced with a funny note explaining the situation.

The Sims 4 - Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan riled up a lot of people in 2017 when a new law was introduced that banned the sale of 34 video games, The Sims 4 included. While they didn’t release an explanation for each individual ban, the law was claimed to combat games that are “used to propagate violence, pornography, threaten security and social and political stability.”

Exactly how they thought The Sims 4 would help destabilise the government is unclear, and most of the public agreed, asserting that the government was focusing on superficial issues instead of addressing large societal problems.

Wolfenstein - Germany

While Germans do not shy away from teaching children and condemning the horrors of the Nazi regime, the imagery of Hitler and things like swastikas are banned. Unsurprisingly, Wolfenstein – which is simply covered in that stuff – was blocked from release in Germany. Eventually, it was allowed to be sold, but with a moustacheless Hitler and triangles instead of swastikas.

Sex Vixens from Space - United Kingdom

Despite what some may think, the UK is surprisingly permissive when it comes to media, and the BBFC rarely bans anything. However, the provocative title and cover art were just enough to spark moral outrage in 1989, and all copies of the game were seized as soon as they reached British shores. It’s never technically been banned, in fact it was never even submitted to the BBFC, but no copies were ever made available in the UK to “protect the youth of today”.

Pokémon GO - Malaysia

Pokémon GO has been banned in a handful of countries. It’s usually because of flaws in the security system, however, Malaysia’s reason for banning the game is quite odd. The official reason given was that the game “promoted the search for power”, which says more about the people issuing the ban than it does about the game. There was a lot of public backlash to the banning of such a global sensation, and after improvements to security were made, the ban was repealed, so Malaysians can enjoy events like Pokémon GO Fest once more.

Danganronpa V3 - South Korea

Unfortunately, games are sometimes banned because of bad timing. Part of the reason GTA 3 came under as much fire as it did was due to how close it released to the September 11th attacks in 2001, and Danganronpa V3 suffered a similar fate in South Korea.

Although the first two anime games had released in South Korea without incident, shortly because the third came out, a schoolgirl was convicted of murdering another child. It was a high-profile news piece that the South Korean public did not want to be reminded of. As such, Danganronpa’s teenage murder mystery was seen as poor taste and banned from release.

Mario Kart Tour - Belgium

A first-party Nintendo game getting banned is not something you’d expect to see in the modern day, but this mobile Mario Kart game falls afoul of Belgium’s strict gambling laws. As many European countries are now looking into, Belgium classified loot boxes in games as gambling in 2018, making it completely illegal for any game available in Belgium to include them. This means that games like Mario Kart Tour are banned unless they release a version without the loot boxes, so it’s a good thing many of its tracks are coming in the Mario Kart 8 expansion.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - China

For better or worse, China is one of the first countries that comes to mind when someone in the Western world says “government censorship”, and Animal Crossing drew the ire of officials. As clothing patterns and tile patterns can include just about anything, when players visited other islands across the world, Chinese citizens were able to view anti-government messages. This was enough to convince China to pull the hammer down and completely ban the game.

Written by Ryan Woodrow on behalf of GLHF.

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