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5 times the GTA series was banned from other countries

GTA often gets a less-than-friendly reception in other countries (Image via GTA Wiki)
GTA often gets a less-than-friendly reception in other countries (Image via GTA Wiki)
Danny Sahbegovic
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The controversial nature of the GTA series is a major sticking point for its release outside of the United States.

While the United States isn't the only market that Rockstar Games caters to, it's one of the largest in the video game industry. Nonetheless, the GTA series is an international brand that appeals to players worldwide. Unfortunately, more than a few countries apply strict censorship laws.

While GTA can be retooled to fit ratings guidelines, there are times when a game is outright banned. The reasons vary depending on the cultural norms of a country. For example, gambling is a major source of contention in religiously devout areas. It's a given for the GTA series to face international bans.



Five instances where GTA was banned from different countries

#5 - GTA Online gambling results in a massive international ban

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A few years ago, GTA Online released the Diamond Resort and Casino update. Players can use real-world money to purchase in-game currency. They can proceed to use it for various casino games, such as poker and slots. Unsurprisingly, the gambling features proved controversial.

There are too many to list all at once, but more than 50 countries took action against Rockstar Games. They proceeded to ban the gambling aspects of GTA Online. Reddit user SlapshotTommy has been able to compile an entire list. These countries include Argentina, Greece, Thailand, and most of the Middle East.

Some GTA players got around the ban with the use of different VPNs. However, it does carry a legal risk depending on the country. Needless to say, certain players were not happy with their country's restrictions. GTA Online is a hugely popular game, and they were missing out on the update.

#4 - A few Australian chains refuse to restock GTA 5

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Change.org is a petition-based website, which is often used to voice outrage over perceived injustice. The GTA series is no stranger to controversy, given their suggestive themes. However, one group in Australia wanted retail chains to remove the games entirely.

The petition states GTA 5 encourages players to commit brutal acts of violence against women. With 47,971 signatures, they had a single goal in mind - for Target and Kmart to withdraw the game from store shelves. Eventually, both companies complied with these demands.

It should be noted that these branches are owned by Westfarmers, whose policies are unfavorable to R-rated products. Like most violent games, GTA 5 carries an R18+ rating within the country of Australia.

#3 - Licensing issues cause a temporary ban in Barueri

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A Brazilian court in Barueri once ordered a ban on GTA 4 and its DLC episodes. Rockstar Games apparently used an unauthorized sample in one of their songs (Daniel Haaksman - Conga Kid feat. MC Miltinho). It was taken from Bota o Dedinho pro Alto created by Hamilton Lourenço da Silva.

Rockstar Games did straighten out the legal strife with the Brazilian composer. The ban was eventually lifted in 2012. At the very least, players within that region can play The Ballad of Gay Tony without any worries.

Licensing issues have been around the GTA series for a long time. Both Vice City and San Andreas removed several different songs from the Steam versions. When the licenses expired, Rockstar Games didn't bother paying for it.

#2 - Thailand indefinitely bans GTA 4

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In 2008, someone took it too far when he robbed and killed a taxi driver in Thailand. He wanted to play GTA, but his parents didn't have the money to afford it. As a result of this incident, the government pushed for stronger regulations against the GTA series. The ban was the final result.

Thailand has banned the entire series for its reportedly obscene content. However, it's not hard for GTA players to find the games online. Physical copies are considerably more difficult to acquire, since most stores will not carry them. This goes for most countries that ban the product itself.

Rockstar Games does reference the country in various games, such as random pedestrian dialog. However, they often make jokes at the expense of Thailand and its commercial industries.

#1 - Saudi Arabia issues a country-wide ban GTA 5

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After a series of suicide games a few years ago, Saudi Arabia sought to ban popular titles. GTA 5 was among the 47 casualties selected by the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM). They didn't go into specific details about why these games were selected.

GTA 5 is undoubtedly a violent game, which probably factored into the kingdom's decision to ban it entirely. The game was region locked to Saudi Arabian players, forcing them to find other solutions.

Physical copies will be difficult to sell in the country, given the bans. Apart from that, those who break the law could face potential fines and imprisonment.

Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.


Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul
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