It's no secret that video games are a big business. In fact, they're one of the fastest-growing entertainment industries in the world. Countries all over the world enjoy playing them, and the industry is worth billions of dollars. However, there are a few countries that video games tend to avoid. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including cultural differences and censorship laws. You may be surprised to find out just how many countries have restricted video game access and their reasons for doing so. In this blog post, we will discuss five countries that video games avoid, and why they do so! So, without further ado, let's jump right in!
5. The Netherlands
One of the more surprising entries on this list is the Netherlands. After all, it's not a particularly large or populous country, and we generally know it for its open-mindness. However, the Dutch government has some very strict laws when it comes to video games. It classifies games with randomized loot boxes as illegal gambling practicesIn order to be sold in the Netherlands, all video games must be approved by the Dutch Film and Television Rating Board.
This process is incredibly lengthy and expensive, which makes it impractical for many smaller developers and publishers. That's why when Blizzard announced its new upcoming production, Diablo Immortal, they had to skip over the country. Speaking at the Beta launch, a Blizzard spokesman stated that countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands will not have access to Diablo Immortal; the game will not feature in any of their Google Play or App Stores. Very few video games are actually available in the Netherlands.
Venezuela is another country with surprisingly strict laws when it comes to video games. In fact, the government has outright banned all shooting games that involve human targets. This includes Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. This law was established in 2009 and includes restrictions on creating, trading, distributing and displaying video games of such design. This only came to be as a result of the high violence rate across the country. Unlike most Western countries whose main concern with gaming is the rate of video game addiction among kids, Venezuela channels its laws towards the curb of violence.
The ban received immense support from then President Chàvez. He voiced his claims about the existence of some online video games that featured him. Stating that players could kill him and practice all forms of violence through these games. President Chàvez also named a number of game consoles such as Nintendo and Sony, labeling them as poisonous to the public; and referred to video games as mediums in the promotion of capitalism. The Venezuelan video game ban is by far the most severe and has receives too much criticism by gamers and creators worldwide.
Another country that has sanctions against video games on the count of the rise in excessive violence, is Brazil. The government believes that violent games are the influence that led to high crime rates in the country. This is following a 1999 incident where a man fatally shot three and injured four others in a mass shooting. After the implementation of the regulations, all video game vendors had to surrender the banned titles as well as refrain from peddling them.
Games such as Carmageddon, Mortal Kombat, Doom and Bully are not accessible to players in this country. However, some games have recently been legalized. For instance, Counter-Strike is one of the games that was for a long time banned as its content threatened the country's public security and social order. The game is now available for online purchase but is still barred from retail stores.
2. South Korea
We often consider South Korea is often to be the mecca of eSports. However, the country has a long history of banning video games. Although they are no longer as strict toward video games as they were before, South Korea still has restrictions against certain game genres. Combat games such as Manhunt, Manhunt 2 and Mortal Kombat are still banned in the country because of violent content. Not so long ago, South Korea also banned any games that feature any relations to the war between South and North Korea. This was aimed to reduce tension between the two nations.
Other games that have been subjected to South Korea's shut-down laws include GTA III, GTA Vice City and Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, which was believed to cause diplomatic tension between South and North Korea. The country takes pride in upholding certain values and maintaining its cultures. That's why Homefront also suffered a ban in the country for its negative portrayal of Korean culture.
1. The United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is a country that is we all know for its strict censorship laws. As such, it's no surprise that video games receive heavy censorship in the country. The main reasons for the ban on video games in The U.A.E are nudity, gambling, violence, sexual content and homosexuality. A lot of modern titles fall within either one of these facets. Therefore, video games avoid such countries for fear of their extreme regulations. Games that display Muslims in a negative light or promote gambling are a major issue for The United Arab Emirates regime. Therefore, a big number of games that are most popular in the US are banned in the country. These include the likes of God of War, Red Dead Redemption, GTA, Mass Effect, Dead Rising 2, Darksiders, Dead Island and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Aside from that, the country tends to practice more constraints when it comes to video game trading. This also applies to video game licensing, where major game engines also face restriction by these laws. United Arab Emirates gamers, therefore, have a hard time trying to purchase certain games in major digital stores; this is also due to the limitations in what their credit cards can obtain. It's only recently that the country has come to show leniency in online gaming; and has seen a major rise in the gaming population as a result.
Which one of the countries above do you think has the most brutal video game restrictions? Share your pick with us in the comments below or over on our socials here!