Saudi Arabia Enacts New Rating System – Will Also Seek Ban On Certain Games

Here in the United States we fight against censorship all of the time. Visitors to this site are more than likely aware of those battles against puritanical thought, but what we face here in the states is nothing compared to what others go through. A good example of that would be when a small group of outraged non-gamers successfully petitioned to get Grand Theft Auto 5 removed from Target’s shelves.

Rating systems such as the ESRB and PEGI attempt to prevent this by educating consumers about game content and preventing anyone from being surprised about seeing something that offends them, though the effectiveness of such a safeguard is dubious at best. (Ask any 3rd grader if they’ve played Grand Theft Auto and you’ll see)

This brings us to recent news coming out of Saudi Arabia where an official video game rating system has just recently been established by the government.

While rating systems are by no means uncommon, it’s not necessarily the guidelines themselves that are causing concern. This particular rating system seems rather typical. It has warning symbols for violence, alcohol use and online play…nothing out of the ordinary. Instead, what has people concerned is that this rating system follows on the heels of recent legislation that will see certain games outright banned. The list, which you can see in the picture below, includes some games you might suspect, and a few you probably wouldn’t.

This isn’t the first time Saudi Arabia has attempted to control gaming. A glance at a previous banned game list shows quite a few games, most amusing of which is Pokemon, a game that apparently promotes Zionism.

It’s also important to note that while these games are banned by the government, some stores do in fact ignore the ban and sell them regardless. Though they risk fines (Or losing their license, perhaps), retailers can elect not to abide by the rules.

Carl Batchelor


Carl is both a JRPG fan and a CRPG'er who especially loves European PC games. Even with more than three decades of gaming under his belt, he feels the best of the hobby is yet to come.

  1. MaidKillua
    June 1, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Devil Survivor 2??? Not the first one? Or any of the other SMT games with what could very easily be perceived as negative views on religion??? They ban the one that’s not about religion at all? I find that pretty funny honestly

    At least Saudi gamers have dodged some bullets not being allowed to play TLoU and DA:I

  2. Won'tSomeoneThinkOfTheChildren
    June 1, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    thanks to

  3. Zanard Bell
    Zanard Bell
    June 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Of course Pokemon promotes Zionism. After all, they have a Pokemon named Golem. Oh vey!

  4. loomRt
    June 1, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    They tried things like that before it never really worked. The institutions are not strong enough to enforce such bans and video games are not that high of priority. Plus gamers would find ways to get games they want, They can’t do anything about online stores and a lot of stores will just hide games under the table or hide them in different covers xD They are quite gullible when it comes to video games. All this ban list does is scare few parents.

  5. Martin
    June 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    *Sigh* You know, here, in Saudi Arabia, God of War used to be banned. At that time, store clerks began to sell them by hiding then in PES Evolution Discs. Although that was lifted a few years ago, it’s started again,huh…Hopefully they’ll at least leave digital alone. I mean, You can’t even find some games like Senran Kagura and Toukiden at PSN store, much less retail.

  6. TheCynicalReaper
    June 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Fucking Saudi
    I bet they put up Watch Dogs simply because you could kill Muslims (and everyone else too)

  7. Nonscpo
    June 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks to…???

  8. Nonscpo
    June 1, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Lol :D

  9. Domhnall
    June 1, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Don’t you mean that Saudia Arabia “sikhs” to ban certain games?

  10. Casey
    June 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    wolfenstein and the saboteur are banned? are they buttmad about killing nazis?

    they sound more like nazis given this censorship.

  11. Carl B.
    Carl B.
    June 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    That was something I thought I took out, I was going to credit the twitter user who sent the tip in but couldn’t find who it was.

  12. Carl B.
    Carl B.
    June 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Actually, I think it was Nonscpo who sent it in, not sure.

  13. Audie Bakerson
    Audie Bakerson
    June 1, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Finally! Someone bans The Last of Us, Ninja Gaiden 3, the Thief and DMCs reboots, Watch-Dogs and The Order!

  14. Nonscpo
    June 1, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Yup it was me!

  15. deadeye
    June 1, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    >Banning The Order, DMC, Watch Dogs, Yaiba, and Thief

    What a loss. Those poor Saudis won’t be able to experience the unbridled joy of playing those games.

    Sarcasm aside, this sort of thing is, unfortunately, not surprising. We think we have it rough fighting against some censorship that, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty minor.

    I’ve met some people from saudi arabia, afghanistan, etc., and I’ve asked them if they liked America, and they all pretty much unanimously love it, and love just how much freedom there is. It’s really sobering, and it puts things in perspective.

  16. Evropi
    June 1, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    It is a Muslim, not a Sikh country. There is no relation between the two faiths, except that American police routinely mistake Sikhs for Muslims (often leading to suspicion on those communities). In fact, there is a lot of tension between those two religious groups in India.

  17. Death Saved
    Death Saved
    June 1, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Saudi here!

    Will probably be ignored like every last one they tried to implement.

  18. Swirly Twirl
    Swirly Twirl
    June 1, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Definitely, all the popular games in Saudi Arabia has violence and some sexual content, it didn’t stop anybody from buying the GTA games so why would it stop anyone from buying an Assassin’s Creed game or a DMC game?

  19. Anon534
    June 1, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    I thought videogames were banned in saudi arabia, period.
    That said saudi arabia has biggest things to worry about that videogames.

  20. Carl B.
    Carl B.
    June 1, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Yup, and Sikh’s are constantly mistaken for them around here too. My neighbors are Sikh, and are the nicest guys I ever met. I’ve heard others here call them Muslim and I’ve corrected them. Shame, too.

  21. Zack
    June 1, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    That joke would’ve been funny…if it made sense and you weren’t an idiot.

  22. Domhnall
    June 1, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Bless my heart, I’m so glad there are people here to learn me good. In my 6 years of formal schoolin’ in good ol’ Georgia (land of the free, home of the brave, praise Jebus), I was probably too busy fuckin’ my sister during geology class to get a good handle on any of this complimicated…thinky-stuff. I do declare that when the South rises again I’ll remember you good folk; you can be first in line for my illicit moonshine business. It ain’t good moonshine if you don’t go blind, that’s my motto. All payments can go to my wife, who is also my mother, but don’t expect proper change ‘cuz she don’t count too good and I myself need to strip naked to count to 21.

    Which is to say that you’re all thinking way too much about a stupid pun. I know Muslims are not the same thing as Sikhs and that they are, in fact, entirely as unrelated as water polo and proper professional sports. But, “Things aren’t looking too sunni in Saudia Arabia,” and, “I can’t wait for the shiite to hit the fan,” didn’t play off the title of the article. And besides, it’s safer to make a joke about the Sikhs; they won’t blow me up and cut off my head.

    If it’s any consolation, absolutely no offense was meant and you have my apologies if any was taken; if that wasn’t any consolation, tell the Sikhs to excommunicate me so that when I die Kali won’t give me my 72 virginal white elephants, all of whom are named Sister Mary Mother of God (which makes proper nightly sex rotation difficult, I can assure you, although it does ensure that I never call one by the wrong name in bed). Surely the fact that I’ll spend the rest of eternity with Justin Bieber in Tartarus, forever fleeing the white riders of Ragnarok, is punishment enough for my sins. If nothing else, being on the kill list for most major and several minor religions for being equally irreverent of everyone and everything should be fine enough.

  23. Thanatos2k
    June 1, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    The violence icon with blood dripping out of the gun barrel is hilarious.

  24. Zizal
    June 1, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    First picture is made by some stupid activist and has nothing to do with the bans. The second picture is real. The real problem here is that they made a licenses fee for stores to sell some game and to be able to sell it for other stores and it’s high so no one will get niche games and will kill non mainstream games. The war on gaming isn’t new. The parasite journos were doing some fake outrages and know nothing about gaming but sadly they won.

  25. Muten
    June 1, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    We have the same problem in most South American countries, including mine, because we lack a videogame rating system over here.

    But we can ignore it all we want, hell, people get away with rape, murder and theft. Truly, the land of the free.

  26. Crizzyeyes
    June 1, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    They’re likely banned because they portray Jews in a positive light, as most Western WWII games do.

  27. メタラーにゃあ~
    June 1, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    I’ll say, I thought banning shit was out of fashion since 1945.

  28. chero666
    June 1, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    What I wouldn’t give to find a reason to ban DmC.

  29. ultrapwnd
    June 2, 2015 at 12:10 am

    “I’ve heard others here call them Muslim and I’ve corrected them. Shame, too.”

    That kind of makes it sound like if they were Muslim, it would be ok for people to derogatorily call them Muslims

    I know you probably don’t mean it like that, that’s just what it kinda sounds like.

  30. Viredae
    June 2, 2015 at 12:52 am

    One of the few reasons I disliked living in Saudi Arabia.

    Not only are they pro-censorship, they’re quite idiotic about it too.

    I used to embarrass grown adults who threw around the whole “X supports Zionism” bullshit quite often (nope, it’s not just pokemon).

    I was 13 years old.

  31. Viredae
    June 2, 2015 at 12:54 am

    I’d almost say this is a ban of shitty overrated games if Wolfenstein and SMT weren’t there too.

  32. Viredae
    June 2, 2015 at 1:00 am

    The lesson to take from this is that every place has its ups and downs, so you should appreciate the good stuff you have.

  33. Zizal
    June 2, 2015 at 1:25 am

    It was funny to see in the TG website from no where. I personally try to avoid them and go sometimes to see their reaction. A lot of them read neofag and are annoying SJW’s.

  34. John Doe
    John Doe
    June 2, 2015 at 4:31 am

    Presumably because they will dole out barbaric punishments if the laws are broken?

    I mean, my knowledge of Saudi Jurisprudence is extremely limited, but don’t they still cut thieves’ hands off and stone people?

    For relatively minor offenses such as drinking alcohol or certain music?

  35. John Doe
    John Doe
    June 2, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Maybe because of depiction of women with souls?

    Or magic?

    Or the general theme of rebellion against oppressive religious constructs?

    Probably more the last two.

  36. Zizal
    June 2, 2015 at 5:47 am

    No, but I wouldn’t mind if they did it. I don’t blame you for your ignorance because your media has an agenda and can’t push it without telling you lies.

  37. Nonscpo
    June 2, 2015 at 8:48 am

    TG website?

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    June 2, 2015 at 9:46 am

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  39. Evropi
    June 2, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Can’t speak for Saudi Arabia but ‘Zionist entity’ is an almost universal name for Israel in many Arabic-speaking countries, even in the mainstream media. >.>

  40. Viredae
    June 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Basically, yeah.

  41. Mohamed Al Saadoon
    Mohamed Al Saadoon
    June 2, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Another Saudi here,

    Saudi Arabia does have harsh punishments but they don’t apply them to every little crime. That would be ridiculous.

    In any case, police are pretty lazy here and don’t really go looking for these sorts of things and if they do find it on you, they’ll probably just confiscate the game.

  42. Mohamed Al Saadoon
    Mohamed Al Saadoon
    June 2, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Nah, they don’t play games that deeply to know the story.

    They just some skimpy ladies in it and banned it.

  43. Mohamed Al Saadoon
    Mohamed Al Saadoon
    June 2, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Ironically, Germany also bans Wolfenstein.

  44. TheLastSandwichOnEarth
    June 2, 2015 at 10:59 am

    I was always under the impression that Saudi Arabia had a strong content police.

  45. Zizal
    June 2, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Police don’t go on witch hunting. You only need to fear if you are making political scene or trafficking or something big like killing. I think we are free more than western countries in some aspects like no one will throw me in jail for downloading pirated stuff and the place will be more peaceful than the west if it weren’t for the terrorists. Most of the lies and hate is because we are different than you and don’t believe in your values. We have a lot of mistakes but we aren’t like what most westerns think.

  46. TheLastSandwichOnEarth
    June 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I can understand that. In the west, or at least the United States has become very diverse and split in their beliefs. People will go to jail for silly things, and others won’t go to jail for horrible things. But you’re dead right on our media being stupid as stupid can come. Most Americans don’t know difference between Shia and Sunni.

  47. Zizal
    June 2, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Even between Shia and sunni aren’t one mind for example sunni are like 4 sects if I’m not mistaking also there are more sects than just Shia and sunni. It’s funny when you watch the news over here, every channel claims that their fighters are winning and can give a picture of 10 people in the streets as a huge riots to fit their agenda. The internet sometimes help to know their lies but most brainwashed mainstream don’t look for the truth and being of some sect might blind people not to see the truth, maybe even for me who knows.

  48. Zizal
    June 2, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    True Gaming.

  49. Nonscpo
    June 2, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Oh I see, yeah I stopped by there a few times, I like to explore different sites that are supported by disqus. Unfortunately most of there coverage tends to be pretty mainstream, so I only go there if there’s a particular article that catches my mind.

  50. John Doe
    John Doe
    June 2, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    I actually stated that I knew little of the relevant jurisprudence.

    Calling me ignorant doesn’t serve you when I admitted at the outset I knew little, and offered what I did.

    It seems you did not seek productive exchange.

  51. John Doe
    John Doe
    June 2, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Hey, well I’m happy to see someone at least who is willing to do something other than call me names.

    I mean, we have the death penalty here, but it’s usually reserved for murder, treason, etc. and rarely [officially] used.

    Not saying we’re perfect, just saying that my knowledge is limited and it would seem dangerous to defy a regime that was bent on theocratic dominance through brutality.

    And honestly I’d be against that no matter who was doing it.

    So is it really that they’re too lazy? Are the crazy punishments just reserved for ‘examples’ and scare tactics, and not a matter of usual course?

    I’m actually curious.

  52. John Doe
    John Doe
    June 2, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    And there’s lies on both sides – most of us don’t hate you either. That includes me – I am all about personal responsibility, so I hold people accountable for what *they* do, not for what their countrymen do.

    And you’re right that in some ways, you do have it better. For example, the scourge of feminism seems to at least be somewhat held back.

    And if you really do have actually sane laws about Intellectual Property, that’s another tip of my hat to you.

    The world is an interesting and varied place.

  53. R353ARCH
    June 3, 2015 at 12:48 am

    We have our cencorship discussions, but can’t really recall ever hearing a game getting “banned” post-publication here in the States. Gives me something to Google about…

  54. Zizal
    June 3, 2015 at 1:14 am

    I understand what you are saying but I don’t think it’s possible. People will continue to fight over natural resources, believes, wealth. You see some people don’t care about the environment they live in. Do you really think they care about some people dying in other parts of the world?I bet they don’t.

  55. Sylveria Shini
    Sylveria Shini
    June 3, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Banning and ratings based on overbearing puritanical religious values? SJW wet dream.

  56. John Doe
    John Doe
    June 6, 2015 at 4:09 am

    For example, most people conflate Wahhabism with all Islam.

    Which is incorrect.

    Though I have heard it is essentially the state sponsored sect in Saudi Arabia.

    Is that true?

  57. John Doe
    John Doe
    June 6, 2015 at 4:12 am

    People will always struggle, and this is the human condition in my opinion.

    I could go into scientific reasons why, but it is literally neurologically difficult for people to care about those outside a certain impact zone or a certain level of separation too much, because if we didn’t have that limitation, we’d all be hiding in closets crying for all the death and loss of life and the pain everywhere at all times.

    What matters isn’t the search for utopia – for we will never find it without loss of all freedoms, which I would never condone – what matters is the search for ways to mutually respect one another’s sovereignty and to interact in ways that are mutually beneficial.

  58. Zizal
    June 6, 2015 at 5:15 am

    Their ideas being taught in schools religion books and have the most influence here so I would say yes. Don’t get me wrong other sects aren’t living in hell or something, they send smart people outside to study and they have jobs , houses , mosques, etc. Just like any other country. We aren’t perfect and you will see people asking for better quality of life since we are an oil country. There is a myth where all saudi are rich which is bullshit and only retards who believe media lies think like that. I normally will avoid the talk about this stuff. Better safe than sorry.

  59. John Doe
    John Doe
    June 6, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I believe that the supreme good is that all men of right ought to be free, but I’m not in favor of bringing that freedom to people who don’t understand it with a sword they didn’t ask for – all that causes is hatred and chaos.

    If your people are happy under a Sultanate then so be it, that is your choice. If you want changes and as a people desire it enough, so be it.

    I know that most are not rich other than a certain family…. and it’s quite sad to be honest to know there is a place with that level of disparity.

    But again, it’s not my place to change it, it’s that nation’s people’s, if they want to change it.

    I’m glad we ended up speaking civilly. There’s a lot that modern civilization owes to the peoples of your region, of the fertile crescent – your civilizations preserved knowledge when books were burned and Western Rome was sacked… granted, how we brought it back a few hundred years later wasn’t really awesome, we still owe a great debt to you for keeping that knowledge safe during the Dark Ages.