The GTA franchise has been a hotbed of controversy for as long as it has existed. It not only invokes the ire of a section of the audience but it also goes the extra mile to provoke a strong reaction.
The GTA franchise, as a result, is one of the most widely debated entertainment properties in the history of video games. Rockstar Games, while still in their infancy, broke onto the scene with Grand Theft Auto III and sent parent groups and news channels running helter-skelter.
Grand Theft Auto III terrified the masses with its seemingly provocative and violent themes. However, the game would appear tame by today's standards, and Rockstar Games are no longer the outliers and underdogs but are now giants of the gaming industry.
Here are some countries that didn't take too kindly to the franchise's content and removed some of the games from the stores or outright banned them.
Countries in which GTA was banned/censored
Australia has had a storied history of banning certain video games, mostly due their content. The GTA franchise has been banned and re-released in edited versions multiple times in the country. Most famously, GTA III was re-released as recently as 2019.
Grand Theft Auto III drew the ire of the Australian government with its inclusion of a gameplay element that allowed the player to solicit the services of prostitutes. The game was initially released in its original form but after pressure from both the media and parents' groups, the game was banned and then re-released without the feature and with an MA15+ rating.
The abysmal portrayal of women and the violence against women contributed heavily to the game being banned in the country. The game was then re-released in 2019, re-instigating the gameplay element with an MA18+ rating.
Germany has also had a long history with the GTA franchise but has since relaxed its stance regarding the ban of games from the series. A total of 4 games from the franchise, namely: Vice City, Vice City Stories, Liberty City Stories and San Andreas, had been banned at one point in time.
The games were banned for their content and "high-impact gory violence" which, although true, isn't exclusive to the GTA franchise in video gaming. The ban on the games were lifted in 2012 after multiple iterations were developed and some content was censored.
3) Multiple countries banning the Casino
In GTA Online, Rockstar Games introduced a brand-new update that would add a Casino in Los Santos. The Diamond Casino and Resort would allow players to engage in a number of gambling activities, including betting on horse races.
This wasn't received favourably by a number of countries, resulting in over 50 countries banning GTA Online. The list of countries that banned the game included Thailand, Venezuela, Pakistan, South Africa and Argentina.
While some countries have relaxed their stance, some have remained adamant over the restriction of gambling in any form in video games. Famously, microtransactions were deemed as gambling by a number of countries.
4) the USA
This was more of a removal than a ban, and it concerns the infamous Hot Coffee Mod in GTA San Andreas. On July 20. 2005, the production of GTA San Andreas was suspended due to the release of the Hot Coffee Mod to the public.
The mod essentially unearthed game files hidden deep within the game code that unlocked a mini-game that contained graphic content. The game was then removed from stores and was slapped with an "AO" rating, which is a huge blow for GTA San Andreas' sales.
Rockstar quickly sought to fix the issue by releasing a patch that would essentially remove the game files altogether. However, many people have questioned why the company didn't remove the content altogether before release.
Japan had previously been extremely aggressive in its stance against the depiction of nuclear warfare due to the historic events that took place in the country. It has also been strongly against the presence of extreme violence in video games.
GTA V was edited and censored heavily for it to be deemed fit for release in the country. The edited content was restricted only to the Japanese localised versions of the game.
Much of the blood effects and gore were removed from the game, resulting in an extremely sanitised version of Grand Theft Auto.