Australia has always had a tumultuous relationship with mature rated gaming content. The country only recently gained the necessary classification to sell R18+ games. In the past, numerous titles (like Left 4 Dead 2, Syndicate and Saints Row IV) were refused classifaction and thereby banned from sale in Australia. Despite the fact that an R18+ classification is now (finally) in place, mature titles like Grand Theft Auto V are still having difficulties.
Both Target Australia and Kmart Australia have pulled copies of Grand Theft Auto V from their shelves. Target’s decision is based off feedback from their customers which showed “a significant level of concern about the game’s content”. As a result, Target wished to be in line with the expectations of the “majority view of [their] customers”.
A few days later, Kmart Australia followed suit after they conducted their own “significant review of all content in Grand Theft Auto games”. Following their review, the company made the decision to pull all copies from their shelves. “Kmart apologises for not being closer to the content of this game,” the company said in a prepared statement.
Target’s decision to initially pull GTA V is likely in response to a petition started by women survivors of sexual abuse. The group of women called on Target to stop selling the game and described GTA V as follows: “The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘health’ points… Please Target – we appeal to you as women survivors of violence, including women who experienced violence in the sex industry, to immediately withdraw Grand Theft Auto V from sale.”
The petition, which started on 29 November, has accumulated more than 44, 000 signatures. Why only Target was, uhhh, targeted by the petition is uncertain, but it’s clearly had the desired effect considering another massive Australian retailer, Kmart, has also pulled copies.
It’s also unclear as to why this is only happening now, considering Grand Theft Auto V has been available worldwide on last generation consoles since September.
So, how’s that new R18+ age rating working out for you, Australia?