Video game censorship is something gamers love to get upset about. But making revealing costumes a little more PG-13 isn't close the leading reason for censoring games. Many games have been banned or censored in multiple countries for content, and some of the most famous are stories for the ages.
Whether for political reasons or content deemed too explicit, games are banned in countries around the world every year. Germany banned well over 100 games in the 2000s for violent content. Saudi Arabia does not allow the sale of games with sexual content. Other countries where gambling is illegal are required to ban games that include gambling.
These are 15 major games that have been banned, censored, or otherwise changed either in translation or before wide release.
15 The GTA San Andreas Hot Coffee Incident
An early censorship controversy in the mainstream video game discussion was the hot coffee mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. A mod let players access an interactive sex mini-game. The controversy led the ESRB to reissue the game's rating as an AO, forcing Rockstar's hand to rerelease and patch the game in the US. In Australia, the game was permanently removed from sale. These weren't the only changes Rockstar ever made to San Andreas.
14 Mortal Kombat 9 is banned in South Korea
The Xbox 360 and PS3 reboot of Mortal Kombat, also called Mortal Kombat 9, brought the series back in a major way. But not in South Korea. The country banned the game for its extreme and graphic violence. The Manhunt games and some older entries in the Grand Theft Auto franchise were also banned in South Korea. However, the bans on GTA lifted in 2006.
13 Metal Gear Solid 2 removed a scene after 9/11
Metal Gear Solid 2 was released in November 2001, only two months after the 9/11 attacks in the US. The game was edited in a couple ways. Most notoriously, footage of the World Trade Center originally appearing in the game's ending was removed. Konami also removed a scene where Arsenal Gear destroys the Statue of Liberty and crashes into the Federal Hall National Memorial.
12 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was toned down for Japan
This generation's top fantasy RPG The Witcher 3, now coming to Switch, is an extremely M-rated game. The Witcher games do not shy away from violence, gore, nudity, and sexual content. In countries where these issues, especially nudity, are especially controversial the game has been censored. These edits are included in the Japanese and Middle Eastern versions of the game.
11 Bully was banned in Brazil
Rockstar Games was no stranger to controversy when Bully was originally released in 2006. This didn't stop the game from being banned in Brazil for showing violence and harassment in a school setting. However, in 2016 the ban was lifted and Bully is now available in Brazil.
10 Wolfenstein censorship in Germany
Germany has had very strict censorship laws over the years since WWII. Anything containing Nazi iconography, regardless of its political stance, is banned. This has led to a history full of German banning when it comes to the Wolfenstein franchise. Games in the new iteration of the series were not banned, but were heavily censored. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is the first game in the franchise to be released uncensored in Germany.
9 The original Bionic Commando was renamed
The NES classic Bionic Commando hasn't always had such a catchy title. The original translation of the game's Japanese title, the more literal Top Secret: The Resurrection of Hitler, was changed for release overseas. Hitler and the Nazis were turned into "Master-D" and the "Badds" and all swastikas were removed from the game.
8 Fallout 3 is censored in Japan
Bethesda's reinvention of the Fallout franchise was a game that depicted a post-nuclear world. This didn't fly in Japan, a nation devastated by atomic warfare. Specifically, in the "The Power of the Atom" side-quest where players get the choice whether or not to blow up starting town Megaton. The option to detonate the bomb was removed in the Japanese release. The "Fat Man" mini nuke launcher was changed to the "Nuka launcher" for the same reason.
7 Majora's Mask changed Skull Kid's face
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask was almost a controversial game. In the Japanese version of the game, Skull Kid's face is covered in black. In bringing the game to the US concerns arose over mistaking this for blackface, so for the US release Skull Kidd appears with a scarecrow face.
6 Punch Out!! was made slightly less offensive
In retrospect, Punch-Out is a series with iconic characters built from some stereotypes. For the release of the original game, there had to be one major change from the Japanese release. Vodka Drunkenski's name was changed to Soda Popinski to alleviate the potentially offensiveness of the Russian stereotype. Hopefully we see another entry in this dormant franchise on Switch.
5 Battlefield 4 banned in China
Until 2013, console games were banned in China completely. Post this period, China is still a censorship heavy nation when it comes to gaming. Battlefield 4 was banned in China, but not for its violence. The game's Chinese campaign was not received as authentic and the game was banned for discrediting China's national image and threatening national security.
4 PUBG is banned in Nepal and India
The battle royale breakthrough Player Unknown's Battlegrounds is banned in multiple countries. The popularity of the game in India led to a ban due to the game's violence and large youth player base. It was banned in Nepal for similar reasoning regarding the negative effects of its violence on the youth population.
3 Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 banned in Mexico
In parts of Mexico, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 was banned. G.R.A.W 2 was banned from the state of Chihuahua for the negative and stereotypical depiction of the cities of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez. The antagonists of the game were the Mexican rebels, which also contributed to this partial ban.
2 2010's Medal of Honor reboot was changed at the last minute
The 2010 Medal of Honor reboot tried to bring the franchise to a new generation of consoles with an emphasis on realism. The game became controversial due to letting players control the Taliban in the multiplayer. This attempt at depicting the real war was quickly snuffed out. The name of the team was changed to "Opposing Force" for the final release of the game.
1 Fire Emblem: Fates was edited for international audiences
Before Three Houses on Switch, Fire Emblem: Fates came to the 3DS. Romance and character relationships are core to what makes Fire Emblem so immensely popular. One problematic scene depicting gay conversion therapy was removed from the international release of the game.