Feature

When calling to ban or censor a game boosted sales instead

August 17, 2017 — by Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh0

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Feature

When calling to ban or censor a game boosted sales instead

August 17, 2017 — by Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh0

From extreme violence to sexual content, people have called for things to be banned or censored for ages. The reasons could be genuine or they could be downright ridiculous but it happens. A lot.

You’ve all probably heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad press.” Well, nothing describes the games we’re about to talk about better than that. No matter the reason, be it excessive violence, sexual content, or any other reason really, in most cases an effort made to censor such things only ends up having the opposite effect and bringing even more attention to them.

When an attempt to hide or censor something has the complete opposite effect and makes said thing even more popular, it’s called the Streisand effect.

The effect is named after Barbra Streisand, a famous American singer, songwriter, actor, and filmmaker. In her attempt to hide certain photographs from the public, she sued the photographer who took them. But the fuss raised over the lawsuit had the opposite effect and instead made those photographs go viral.

A good example of the Streisand effect in action would be thepiratebay lawsuit that happened a few years ago. The attempt to shut the site down had the opposite effect and increased the site’s traffic manyfold.

Another example is a certain picture of pop singer Beyonce. You all know which image we’re talking about. In case you don’t, it’s this one. Many attempts were made to take down the image but it’s now forever stored in the internet, for all to see.

Some of the games we’re about to mention may not have been the superhits that they are if it weren’t for these calls to ban or censor them, so we guess in a way we should thank the moral crusaders who brought attention to these games.

Let’s start with…

Death Race

This is an old game. Like 1976 old. If you don’t realise how old that is, it’s ‘older than Pac-Man’ old. It’s also the game that inspired the cult classic movie which goes by the same name. Goes to show you that people have been crying to ban stuff all the way back in the 70s.

Death Race

Now as for why people wanted to shut Death Race down, well, it was the 1970s. The graphics weren’t too great. The game was basically just a black and white screen where you ran over 8-bit stick figures to accumulate points. These stick figures were supposed to be “gremlins”, which are basically goblin-like creatures but you couldn’t really tell with those graphics. So of course, someone assumed they were humans. Some even went as far as saying that the sounds (yes, the beeps and boops) were actually the screams of children.

Naturally, outrage ensued. The game was called sick and morbid and all kinds of things (which you should just assume every game on this list was called) and bids were made to have it removed from arcades.

Creators Exidy made $3 mil off of Death Race. May not seem like much now but back then, *whistle*.

Mortal Kombat

Here’s a title everybody will be familiar with (probably the most familiar titles on this list). Back in 1993 when Mortal Kombat first came out, there were only two major consoles to choose from. The Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis.

Here’s a title everybody will be familiar with (probably the most familiar titles on this list). Back in 1993 when Mortal Kombat first came out, there were only two major consoles to choose from. The Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis.

Mortal Combat

Now we all know what Mortal Kombat is famous for – its fatalities! Now there’s no way a family-friendly console like the Super Nintendo is going to entertain all that gore. So they opted for the censored version of the game. Sega, however, went for the uncut version of the game. They decided that it was worth risking the wrath of parents around the world. The risk paid off.

Mortal Kombat single handedly put the Sega Genesis on top. Sega would remain on top for almost a whole year, until Donkey Kong Country’s release would put Nintendo back in the lead. But this also made Mortal Kombat a staple name in the world of gaming and it’s one of the best selling videogame franchises in existence today.

The Punisher

The Punisher is one of the most prominent anti-hero characters in the Marvel universe. He’s a vigilante who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, even if it means killing. But he’s got a code he follows and you wouldn’t really expect over-the-top violence from this guy.

The Punisher

But 2005’s The Punisher by Volition (yes, the same folk behind Saints Row) was, for lack of a better word, a complete psychopath. The violence in the game was insane; the ESRB gave the game an adults only rating (that’s like a tier higher than an ‘M’ or mature rating). Having an adults only rating pretty much means that most retailers aren’t even going to bother stocking the game. In order to help the game sell, Volition and publisher THQ added filters over the intense scenes and even further cut content for certain countries. They did enough to have the ESRB drop the game’s rating to mature.

The A-rated Punisher was a hot topic for long a time; long enough for the M-rated Punisher to sell over a million copies.

Manhunt

Ah, Manhunt. This is a rather notorious title. Developer Rockstar Games is no stranger to controversy, considering they also have the Grand Theft Auto series under their belt. But if we had to choose one of the two titles, it would have to be Manhunt.

Ah, Manhunt. This is a rather notorious title. Developer Rockstar Games is no stranger to controversy, considering they also have the Grand Theft Auto series under their belt. But if we had to choose one of the two titles, it would have to be Manhunt.

Manhunt

There was no shortage of violence in both games, so why Manhunt? Well, for one thing, in GTA players could choose to be violent or not, in Manhunt, the whole purpose of the game was to stalk and kill people, while filming it. And you did so in rather gruesome ways. So much so that even the folks at Rockstar were uncomfortable about the game’s existence. It was gory enough for even politicians to step in and introduce a legislation that fined retailers for selling mature games to kids.

Then there was a murder that was committed by an alleged Manhunt fan who murdered a 14-year-old with a hammer, in a manner that was identical to the game. This was the final straw and was enough to get the game pulled out of many stores, it wasn’t enough to stop curious people from continuing to buy the game. Manhunt sold over a million copies, easy.

Rockstar even went ahead and made a sequel, Manhunt 2, which is all kinds of f*cked up. You’d think criticism from the first game would deter them, but it would seem that the success it saw had the opposite effect. They didn’t even need to market the game, because thanks to people crying about the game over media it had already gained a lot of attention.

HuniePop

Sor far, most of what we’ve covered involved mostly violence. HuniePop is not a violent game at all. At its core, it’s a puzzle game that looks and plays similar to Candy-Crush. BUT, the goal of the game was to seduce and sleep with the 10 women (plus additional hidden characters) in the game. As you progressed with each character, you unlocked increasing explicit images for each until the final stage where you, you know, that.

Hunie Pop

So far, most of what we’ve covered involved mostly violence. HuniePop is not a violent game at all. At its core, it’s a puzzle game that looks and plays similar to Candy-Crush. BUT, the goal of the game was to seduce and sleep with the 10 women (plus additional hidden characters) in the game. As you progressed with each character, you unlocked increasing explicit images for each until the final stage where you, you know, that.

These kinds of games are fairly common in Japan, but HuniePop blew up in America thanks to its availability on Steam and popular YouTubers picking it up. Its success led to it not only being heavily censored on Steam, but also being completely banned from Twitch. Which in turn only got people more curious and wanting to check the game.

According to SteamSpy, over 560,000 copies of the censored version have been sold, with an average rating of a whopping 95 percent. So we guess it’s actually a good game? Or maybe it’s the free patch that you can download which restores hidden content…

Postal 2

Both, the first Postal and its sequel had similar content, but while the first game snuck past under the noses of moral crusaders, the second one lit up on their radars. For which developer Running With Scissors should be extremely thankful.

Postal 2

While the New Zealand government banned the game in its entirety in the country, Australia refused to certify the game, making it illegal to purchase down under.
Sweden went as far as suing the game’s local distributor (which, of course, did not work).

But this was all more than enough to make the game popular around the world. So popular that it even spawned a feature film (which sucked).

Postal 2 released in 2003 and continues to receive updates and content even today.

Beyond: Two Souls

2013’s Beyond: Two Souls is the most recent game to release on this list. The game made headlines for having a fully nude model of Ellen Page’s character, Jodie, in it. There’s a scene in the game where Jodie takes a shower – while regular PS3 owners don’t get to see much of anything, those who owned a “debug” PlayStation 3 were able to actually dig into the game’s code and revisit said scene with “free camera” mode enabled.

Censor

2013’s Beyond: Two Souls is the most recent game to release on this list. The game made headlines for having a fully nude model of Ellen Page’s character, Jodie, in it. There’s a scene in the game where Jodie takes a shower – while regular PS3 owners don’t get to see much of anything, those who owned a “debug” PlayStation 3 were able to actually dig into the game’s code and revisit said scene with “free camera” mode enabled. So, of course, somebody did so and took a bunch of screenshots. Credit for that deed goes to Redditor DJMockingJay.

A spokesperson for Page did confirm that the body isn’t actually Ellen Page’s but a digitally rendered model. She never actually had her body scanned. Ellen Page even explored taking legal action against Sony for it, but that only added more fuel to the fire. Which in turn helped the game stay in the limelight longer.

We’re sure there are plenty more instances of such games; these are just examples. Are there any significant titles that you guys know off which gained popularity thanks to censorship? Speaking of which, what are you guys’ thoughts on censorship in general.

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Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh

If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.

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