Popular Games That Got Banned and Why

Believe it or not, banning games isn’t all that common. Out of the thousands of video games released annually, only a handful are actually prohibited—and much of that has to do with specific country laws. For example, an illegal game in one country may still be legal next door.

While you can expect certain games like the infamous Custer’s Revenge to have its share of detractors, several popular games were full-out banned in certain places.

What games were banned? Are they any of your favorites? Find out below:

1. Grand Theft Auto

This first probably surprises no one. While GTA is immensely popular, it’s full of violence and all kinds of mayhem. However, although Grand Theft Auto has often been the poster child of anti-video game campaigns, few have ever taken any action about it until Thailand did in 2008.

That year, a young man stabbed a taxi driver and said playing GTA made killing someone easy. Shocking the nation, the government banned the entire series.

Grand Theft Auto has been banned in several countries around the world for similar reasons. Interestingly enough, GTA can still be accessed from within these countries via a VPN and Steam downloads.

2. Command & Conquer: Generals

The Command & Conquer series has been a fan favorite for decades. It’s mostly a strategy building game with relatively minimal violence. The 2006 Generals edition is, in fact, only rated T for Teens in the US.

In this game, you can either play as the US, China, or a decentralized terrorist organization that attacked both sides. While the dev team thought including China would appeal to these markets, the government didn't like that the story mode began with a nuclear explosion in Beijing followed by the destruction of famous Chinese landmarks.

As a result, they banned the whole series even though the People’s army and the country are portrayed as heroic protagonists.

3. Pokémon Go

This should seriously blow your minds. What could be more harmless than walking around and collecting Pokémon? For many gamers, this was likely the first exercise they had in a year!

While Pokémon Go especially raised concerns over safety in Russia, the UK, and India, Malaysia and Iran entirely banned the game.

In Malaysia, the exact reasoning was that it prompted “a search for power” and contributed to gambling and safety issues. Iran cited similar concerns. A backlash on social media eventually led to Malaysia relaxing restrictions, but Pokémon remains illegal in Iran to this day.

4. EA Sports MMA

MMA has become extremely popular. But we all can agree that it’s a pretty violent sport. So, you might think you know where this is going. In 2010, EA Sports wanted to score big on the MMA craze.

They even managed to score key fighters like Randy Couture and Strikeforce team members. The gameplay was pretty good though sales weren’t fantastic due to not securing the UFC brand name.

So how did the game manage to get banned? It had been all the intense violence. Nope. EA Sports MMA has in-game advertisements for energy drinks that play before fights begin. These types of ads are illegal in Denmark, so the game was banned. That definitely wasn't the sweet ending EA hoped for!

5. Call of Duty

Call of Duty has sold over 300 million copies of its battlefield games over the years. The ever-popular first-person shooter introduced players to more realistic war zone settings. It’s not so much the content as the settings that have bruised feelings over the years.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates banned it after a COD4: Modern Warfare featured a character who targeted Islamic soldiers. In Modern Warfare 2, a Russian character with terrorist sympathies also prompted Russia to ban the console version of the game.

Finally, Cuba wasn’t too pleased when one installment featured a plotline that involved killing a young Fidel Castro. The Medal of Honor 2010, however, was banned on US Army Bases because it allowed you to play as a Taliban fighter. It seems this type of outrage is universal!

Bonus: Greece Bans All Video Games

In 2002, Greece wanted to eliminate illegal gambling. To do so, they enacted law 3037, which created a total ban of all devices with gaming software and electronic mechanisms, not understanding it went far beyond what they wanted to achieve.


This law applied to both foreigners and citizens of the country. So, if you brought your Gameboy Advance into Greece to enjoy on vacation, you could have gone to jail for a year at that time!


Fortunately, citizens’ advocacy groups and the EU stepped in, and the law quietly lapsed out of existence a few years later.

Banned Video Games Around the World

In general, there is a common theme among banned video games. We didn’t touch on the Manhunts and other extremely gory contenders since those bans do kind of make sense. But the rest, generally do something to offend a government’s sensibility.


What should you do if one of your favorite games ends up on one of these lists then? Luckily, the solution is right in front of you.


Using a VPN or virtual private network, you can bypass countrywide or local network restrictions to access your favorite games no matter where you are. As an added perk, VPNs unlock region-locked content so you can access Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other streaming platforms no matter where you are.


VPNs also do have a few additional benefits for gamers. Not only can use them to bypass ISP throttling, but they can improve game performance in some cases by reducing latency.


Before the next awesome game you want to play ends up on this list, download, and start using a VPN right away.

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Last Updated: Aug 14, 2020