Some companies create controversy to sell more video games, but sometimes it is unintentional and only serves to harm the game’s image
Controversial games are nothing new in the PC gaming industry, and there always seems to be another game that pushes the boundaries of what is considered appropriate. Whether it is for violence, sexuality, or other questionable imagery, there have been some games that have received the brunt of the controversy either before or right after their launch dates. In some cases, the problem was corrected or removed, but in others it was left for the consumers to decide if it would receive any time on their gaming laptop system.
The Grand Theft Auto series caused enough of a stir just for being a game that put the player in the role of a criminal. The open-world dynamics of the game allowed the player to wander the city and commit random acts of violence and crime. The controversy reached its peak, though, when the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was released. This game included an explicit sex scene in the code of the game, even though it was removed from the actual game play. It didn’t take fans long to create a mod that would allow the user to view the scene. The game’s creators, Rockstar Games, eventually removed the scene from the code.
Resident Evil 5, the most recent installment of the long-running horror series was announced with a trailer that depicted a masculine, white male getting sent into the “dark continent” where he fought and killed black enemies in a small African village. While the enemies were only enemies because of a parasite that had taken control of them, it didn’t stop the accusations of overtly racist imagery. The game had beautiful graphics that would even push the ideal systems for gaming, but most critics couldn’t review the game without at least mentioning the racial aspect first.
Military shooters continue to be extremely popular among gamers, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 made a lot of other people take notice. A level in the game had the players working as an undercover operative who infiltrated a Russian terrorist group. This group goes on to stage a massacre at an airport, and the player’s character is expected to take part in killing civilians. Even the game makers seemed to know they were pushing the boundaries on this one, though, because they included an option to skip the level.
Six Days in Fallujah pushed the military shooter lines even further by setting a game in a war that was currently happening. This caused controversy among veterans who felt the game was glossing-over their experiences in the real Battle of Fallujah, and peace groups also derided it for glamorizing war. Konami, the game’s publisher, decided to remove its support and stopped publishing it.
Games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the Grand Theft Auto series will likely continue to push the boundaries and create the controversy that sells games (these are two of the highest selling franchises in history). Others may suffer harm to their brand if the controversy backfires on them.