Although there may be some video games that cause controversy or get high ratings, not a lot of games in countries like the US actually get banned. While certain games like Night Trap and the Grand Theft Auto series have gotten the attention of people that believe they should be banned, games like these are typically given an adult or mature rating and that's it.
But, there are a lot of other countries around the world that are a little more strict about video games. Some games have been banned in multiple countries, meaning people there can't even purchase them. And it's not always just violent gameplay that leads to a game getting banned; some games have been banned for some pretty surprising reasons.
Updated November 16, 2022 by Jacqueline Zalace: As time passes, the ban status of games can change. We've updated this guide with the most current information on ban status, and added a few more entries.
Bully is a game developed by Rockstar that was released in 2006. This game is set in a boarding school and the player controls the main character, Jimmy, who gets up to all kinds of trouble at his school, causing mischief and mayhem among the students and faculty.
This game was banned in Brazil because of the mischief that the game portrays. According to officials, the fact that the game is set in a school may encourage bad behavior among young people.
13/14 Grand Theft Auto Series
United Arab Emirate
Japan (Grand Theft Auto V)
The Grand Theft Auto series is banned in a lot of countries, typically for violence and sexual content. The reasoning for the game's ban in Thailand is quite different though. Thailand is a country that regularly bans games that feature too much violence, but the country's ban on the entire Grand Theft Auto franchise made headlines.
In 2008, after a taxi driver was killed by someone who was reported to be a fan of this series of crime-based games, the country moved to stop the sale of all the games in the franchise in order to stop any more violent events from occurring in the real world.
12/14 PUBG Mobile
PUBG is a battle royale game in which players face off against each other in a single arena, hoping to take out everyone else and become the last player standing. This game is among many other battle royale games that have become super popular in recent years, but the mobile version of the game is banned in both India and Nepal.
Interestingly, the game became massively popular in India before it was completely banned. The ban came after reports came out that the game's violent themes could lead to violent tendencies in its young fanbase and it was even reported that people were arrested or fined for continuing to play the game after the ban.
11/14 Heavy Rain
United Arab Emirates
There are a number of games that are banned in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It's reported that many games can still be found in Saudi Arabia through, as there is a lack of enforcement for these bans.
One game banned in both countries is Heavy Rain, an interactive drama that is entirely based on the choices that the player makes throughout the course of the game. Adult themes and graphic violence lead to this popular title being banned.
10/14 Pokemon Go
Although the altered reality game Pokemon Go became a worldwide sensation after being released, it wasn't without its controversies. Most of them were related to people playing while driving or stumbling upon dead bodies while out catching Pokemon, none of which lead to the game's ban in most places.
The game was banned in some countries, starting with Iran. Internet access is filtered and many websites and apps are blocked in Iran, and according to officials in the country, the developers failed to get permission for the game so it was banned because of security concerns.
For a short period of time, Pokemon Go was also banned in Malaysia. This ban was later lifted, however, the app was modified to meet the country's security measures.
9/14 Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons quickly became a favorite Nintendo Switch game for many players around the world. From gamers to people that bought a Switch just for the game, to A-list celebrities, just about everyone has embraced the game.
Part of the game involves being able to make custom patterns that can be placed on clothing, around the island, and in players' houses. After people used this to create politically-themed patterns, the game was banned in China.
8/14 Dead Rising 2
United Arab Emirates
Dead Rising 2 is a zombie game in which the player controls Chuck Greene, a former star of Fortune City before the zombie apocalypse happened. Now, Chuck has only 72 hours to save his daughter. The player takes on missions and kills zombies, all while making sure to give Chuck's daughter her daily dose of Zombrex.
Because of the level of graphic violence in the game, it was banned in Germany and the United Arab Emirates. The game involves slaughtering a ton of zombies that are now trapped in the mall with some creative weapons, but this was simply too much for German officials.
7/14 Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a game that was released in 2017 and follows a group of 16 people who have been kidnapped and trapped inside a school, forced to try to solve a mystery in order to make it out alive.
This game was banned in South Korea because of violence and other mature situations that South Korean officials believed might inspire young fans of the game to recreate in real life.
6/14 State Of Decay
Australia is known for banning video games due to their violence. If games aren't banned there, they're often heavily censored to remove a lot of the blood and gore.
One game that was temporarily banned in the country was State of Decay. This game was banned because of violence and because of drugs being a reward for certain missions and tasks. Later, the game was un-banned in the country, but released in a censored version. Changes included turning all drugs into vitamins.
5/14 Mega Man 5
Mega Man 5 was originally released in 1992 for the NES. One of the many bosses in the game is Napalm Man, a boss whose level is set in a world with lush greenery and enemies that resemble tigers.
This game is said to have been banned in Vietnam, and it's not hard to see why. Napalm Man's level has some obvious references to the landscapes of Vietnam and the tunnels and boss could definitely be seen as references to some of the darker parts of the Vietnam War.
4/14 The Sims 3 & 4
If you play The Sims, you may be scratching your head at this one. Uzbekistan has several banned games, usually due to explicit content. The government stated that if a game is "used to propagate violence, pornography, threaten security and social and political stability", then it may be banned.
Somehow, this extends to The Sims. As we all know, The Sims is a series of life-simulation games that allow you to do pretty much anything that you want. The ban only applies to the third and fourth games in the series though.
3/14 Mortal Kombat
- 2011 Release:
Germany (partial ban, no exposure allowed)
- Mortal Kombat 11
- Entire Series
United Arab Emirate
As you can see from the list above, Mortal Kombat is banned in several countries. The general consensus between all of these countries is that the ban is due to violence and gore.
In addition to violence, some of the countries above have banned Mortal Kombat due to the communist symbolism included. For example, both Ukraine and Indonesia have cited Nazi symbols as a cause for banning.
Roblox isn't a single game; instead, it's like an app store, filled with tons of titles. Some of these games are very family-friendly, while others are pure horror games.
In Guatemala, the game has been banned due to the potential to violate the safety of children and adolescents. Roblox is also banned in Oman, but the country has not given an official statement as to why it has been banned.
1/14 Mass Effect 2 & 3
Lastly, we have Mass Effect. This is a long-running series, first released back in 2007. Interestingly, only the second and third Mass Effect games are banned in this country.
This ban is most likely due to the sexual content, as well as same-sex romance options available.
The first Mass Effect game was also banned in Singapore for a short time, due to a same-sex couple. Since then, the ban has been lifted, but the game has a M18 rating now.
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