Earlier this week, we shared an Associated Press report, in which the publication claimed that Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audio-Visual Media (GCAM) banned a list of 47 games after two young people committed suicide as part of the Blue Whale challenge. It has now emerged that the games in question are legacy banned titles, and GCAM has actually been working with video game developers and publishers to relax its rules. The authority did not issue any bans in response to the tragedies.
Ubisoft Middle East’s Head of Localization, Malek Teffaha, was the first one to lament AP over its false reporting and urged the publication to issue a correction. He said in a series of tweets (verbatim):
One inaccurate article from AP has caused a heap of mess externally and internally. Saudi has not issued a banning of 47 games on Monday. These are legacy banned titles. I beg you AP, please remove the article and clarify the mistake. It’s insane to see more Western media cover the same exact story because it came from you, when neither GCAM nor any local publisher was contacted to clarify. You have scared developers and distributors into thinking that their approved games are in danger. You are helping propagate stereotypes and ruin years worth of progress and work we and other publishers have strived to achieve, all in the span of one inaccurate article. Please own up, and admit to your mistake and mess and help clean it up.
Teffaha later told Games Industry that Ubisoft hasn’t had any of its games banned in the last 5 years except for Watch Dogs 2 and South Park. In fact, the developer had GCAM overturn Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 bans.
Saudi Arabia localization expert Nazih Fares added that The Witcher 3 was localized in Arabic but certain aspects, like the game’s nudity, were censored. The Japanese version underwent similar treatment.
PlayStation LifeStyle would like to apologize to its readers for sharing the erroneous report.