Surprisingly Banned Popular App Games
Banned video games are bound to grab the attention of some rebellious gamers. But if you’re on the hunt for a game specifically designed to repulse and revile, then perhaps you’re looking at the wrong platform.
Whilst getting people to talk about banned video games is one cynical marketing method, app developers are well aware that they’re better placed to monetize their creations through more ‘conventional’ means. Though as we’ll see, loot boxes aren’t always plain sailing.
Despite some oh-so-edgy developers going out of their way to create popular app games that are meant to shock their way into the public eye, there are plenty of banned app games out there whose restrictions were based on more nuanced reasons.
Disregarding countries like China and North Korea – who have a particularly tight grip on the video game industry including popular app games – the list of internationally banned app games is thankfully quite small. Though it is interesting to look at exactly which aspect of these titles rubbed certain governments up the wrong way.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
Compared to other shooters, PUBG certainly doesn’t seem like the prime candidate for accusations of ‘extreme violence’. Though we suppose the implications of a frying pan assassination does warrant pause.
PUBG has fallen foul of many governments’ wrath in recent years. One of the most recent being Afghanistan’s Taliban, whose ‘moral policing’ of the country has resulted in its ban alongside TikTok as it “misleads the younger generation” and is “wasting people’s time.” Maybe nobody should tell them about all the other video games out there.
To counteract the violence, some countries including India have re-released PUBG under a different name and with changes such as green blood instead of red. Because if video games have taught us anything, it’s that violence against humans is bad. But screw aliens.
But it’s something of a surprise that more countries haven’t moved to place heavy restrictions on a game that allows users relatively free reign to create and publish games. The Roblox Corporation profits massively from their players’ creations, and so are incentivized to carefully monitor copyright infringements. Though we do wonder what results the omnipresent Kim Kardashian’s threats of retaliation might entail.
Roblox is reportedly still banned in Jordan though for unclear reasons. Guatemala also threatened to ban the title in the past in the name of protecting its young users. Whilst UAE only recently lifted its own ban on the title. With some pretty shocking reports coming out, maybe the Jordanians and Guatemalans got this one right.
We know of many parents (and edgy gamers) who wish that their country would ban Fortnite. But so far, Iraq is one of the only countries to make the jump.
According to a Reuters report, the ban came “due to the negative effects caused by some electronic games on the health, culture, and security of Iraqi society, including societal and moral threats to children and youth.” In this instance, Fortnite was lumped into the same basket as rival Battle Royale title, PUBG. Jordan was poised to follow suit, though seemingly decided that Fortnite was preferable to PUBG in this instance.
Fortnite was thrown under the bus by the World Health Organization when it was named-and-shamed in relation to the officially recognized “Gaming Disorder”. Needless to say, this would have cast many suspicious parents’ glances in Fortnite’s direction. But in the grand scheme of things, we’d say they’ve come out pretty unscathed.
Mario Kart Tour
Loot boxes are a contentious issue at the best of times. But nowhere more so than the halls of the Belgian government, who saw fit to ban games with loot boxes in 2018. Unfortunately, this now includes the globetrotting racer starring everyone’s favorite coin-hungry plumber, Mario. ‘Mama Mia’ indeed…
Mario Kart Tour follows a freemium model in which players must rely on random loot boxes to unlock their favorite characters and karts. No matter how you spin it, this amounts to a gamble. And the Belgian Gambling Authority doesn’t approve.
Seeing the fun-loving cast of Mario characters banned in a whole country is somewhat akin to watching Santa Claus get cuffed by the police at the mall. It seems particularly out of place. But Belgium enforces this law for a reason, and if Nintendo are happy to associate Mario with the coin-spinning loot box model, then we must come to terms with seeing Mario being dragged kicking and wahoo-ing out of the app game marketplace.
Pokémon is about capturing and forcing cute creatures to fight until they are unconscious. This is not, however, why the augmented reality app game from Niantic was banned in Iran. Nor was it for religious reasons. The 2016 ban was instead because of “security reasons”. Though there was little elaboration on those at the time.
However, Niantic’s innovative mechanics have also come up against stumbling blocks around the world. There are, unsurprisingly, restrictions worldwide when it comes to turning important buildings (such as militarily significant ones) into Pokéstops and Gyms. No matter how bummed it makes the employees inside.
Though in our opinion, the title should have received a worldwide ban after its name was invoked for the worst pun in human history.
Clash of Clans
Clash of Clans is a global powerhouse in the app gaming scene. And though it was popular in Iran – with statistics suggesting that about 64% of mobile users in Iran played Clash – a report from psychologists suggesting that it “encouraged violence and tribal conflict” was enough for the Iranian government to restrict it.
It’s true that the famously cartoonish app game from Finnish developer Supercell is all about tribal conflict. The clue is in the name. Though we do wonder about the legitimacy of worries that app gamers would want to emulate their yellow-haired hero “Barbarian” by engaging in similar activities IRL. And so the debate of video games’ influence on its players rages on.
Grand Theft Auto
As one of the most controversial video games in history, the Grand Theft Auto series has been subject to a wave of bans throughout its lifetime. But nearly two decades later, it still stands as one of the most in-demand titles available. And it has managed to wriggle its way out of national bans on multiple occasions. Just like its slippery protagonists.
And yes, there’s no doubt that Rockstar wielded its notoriety as a particularly effective marketing tool. But one of the more interesting reasons for its ban was in the Brazilian municipality of Barueri for its use of Brazilian composer Hamilton da Silva Lourenço’s music without proper permissions. Possibly not the kind of slap on the wrist that Rockstar was expecting.
Needless to say, where there’s a will there’s a way. Time and again, tech-savvy app gamers have found ways to play banned but popular app games, laws be damned.
But with many of these mostly harmless titles having access to near limitless resources, simple tweaks like the recoloring of blood is all that’s needed to claim another captive audience no matter where they’re based. And thankfully, we can still enjoy the biggest and popular app games with our fellow gamers from all corners of the world.
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