5 countries where GTA faced legal issues

gta faced legal issues
GTA games have had legal issues in various countries (Image via Sportskeeda)

The Grand Theft Auto franchise has been a hotbed of controversy for as long as it has existed, and there are several countries where GTA faced legal issues. It not only invokes the ire of a section of the audience but it also goes the extra mile to provoke a strong reaction. Rockstar Games, while still in their infancy, broke onto the scene with Grand Theft Auto III and sent parents groups and news channels running helter-skelter.

The game terrified the masses with its seemingly provocative and violent themes, which would appear tame by today's standards. Besides, Rockstar Games are no longer the outliers and underdogs but are now giants of the gaming industry. In light of that, here are some countries where GTA faced legal issues, like censorship or bans.


Countries in which GTA faced legal issues and were banned or censored

1) Australia

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It's not surprising to learn that GTA faced legal issues in Australia, as the country has had a storied history of banning certain video games, mostly due their content. The Grand Theft Auto franchise has been banned and re-released in edited versions multiple times in the country.

Most famously, Grand Theft Auto 3, which was quite ahead of its time, drew the ire of the Australian government with its inclusion of a gameplay element that allowed the player to solicit the services of prostitutes. It was initially released in its original form with an MA15+ rating but after pressure from both the media and parents' groups, the game was banned and then re-released without the feature. Grand Theft Auto 3 was then re-rated in 2019 with an MA18+ rating.


2) Germany

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Germany is another game where GTA faced legal issues, which again, isn't any surprise since the country heavily censors most video games with violent content. 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 Grand Theft Auto franchise in video gaming. The ban on the games were lifted in 2012 after multiple iterations were developed and some content was censored. Surprisingly, later titles like Grand Theft Auto 4 and 5 were never censored.

Also Read: 5 times Rockstar attracted controversy with Grand Theft Auto 3


3) Saudi Arabia

Violence is a major reason why GTA faced legal issues so many times (Image via Rockstar Games)
Violence is a major reason why GTA faced legal issues so many times (Image via Rockstar Games)

Video games are frequently used as scapegoats in the media whenever there's some violent or tragic incident, and GTA has faced legal issues several times for this reason. Grand Theft Auto 5 was one of 47 games banned in Saudi Arabia for undisclosed violent content after a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl reportedly killed themselves while participating in an online "Blue Whale" challenge.

However, almost every other game in the franchise had already been banned in the country due to their violent content.


4) The USA

The Hot Coffee mod has been the biggest controversy for Rockstar (Image via Rockstar Games)
The Hot Coffee mod has been the biggest controversy for Rockstar (Image via Rockstar Games)

GTA faced legal issues even in the USA itself, and it was due to the infamous Hot Coffee Mod in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. On July 20, 2005, the production of the game 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 with sexual content.

The game was then removed from stores and was slapped with an "AO" rating, which was a huge blow for sales. Rockstar quickly sought to fix the issue by releasing a patch that would essentially remove the hidden game files altogether. However, many people questioned why the company didn't remove the content altogether before its official release.

Also Read: 10 controversies related to the Grand Theft Auto series


5) Japan

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Surprisingly, GTA faced legal issues in Japan as well, despite some of the most disturbing and questionable games coming out of the country. Japan has been strongly against the presence of extreme violence and nudity in video games since the early 2000s, when such game started becoming popular.

Grand Theft Auto 5 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, much like the German versions of GTA titles, resulting in an extremely sanitised version of Grand Theft Auto 5.

Also Read: Everything about Grand Theft Auto 6 Florida Joker controversy

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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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