Monday, May 25, 2020

The Last of Us 2 Banned in Middle East

Shortly ahead of launch, The Last of Us Part II has been banned from release in several Middle Eastern countries.

Only less than a month away from release on June 19, 2020, developer Naughty Dog and publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment are still facing trouble regarding launch of upcoming PlayStation 4-exclusive title The Last of Us Part II.

A recent post on Reddit by user Ghostechful reveals that The Last of Us 2 has apparently been banned by and will not be officially released on a few select countries in Middle East, most notably in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

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The Last of Us 2 Banned in Middle East

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PS4 players can still purchase avatars and dynamic themes for TLoU2 on regional PlayStation Store but looking up for The Last of Us Part II only shows original PlayStation 3 version of The Last of Us and its 2014 PS4 remaster in search result.

PlayStation Support stated, any game not appearing in a regional store means it is banned by authorities of the country. However, Twitter account for PlayStation Arabia is still promoting upcoming State of Play episode focused on TLoU2.

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Regions in Middle East are known for being less tolerant LGBT themes compared to Western countries and many works of art often gets banned. Recently, Disney/Pixar fantasy-adventure film Onward got banned for a gay relationship reference.

Although no apparent reason for banning was revealed by authority yet, many are assuming that TLoU protagonist Ellie being openly a gay character, her relationship with Dina and having some LGBT themes overall could be a major reason.

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The Last of Us II is rated by ESRB for having "Nudity and Sexual" content but so does upcoming long-anticipated action RPG title Cyberpunk 2077, which is still available on stores for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates right now.

Given both of these titles features adult elements that are somewhat similar in themes; nudity was never an issue for this ban. The Last of Us heavily centers on LGBT representation, whereas CP 2077 lets players to choose their orientation.

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Ever since gameplay reveal trailer for The Last of Us II came out during E3 2018 event, people in KSA and UAE were shocked seeing the lesbian kissing scene between Ellie and Dina as many of them were not aware of Left Behind follow-up DLC.

Players in Middle East were expecting a ban from Saudi Arabia authority GCAM (General Commission for Audiovisual Media) but it will not have any effect to many since they can simply import copies of the game from other countries.

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Only affected parties are those who rely on digital purchase from local PSN stores and major official retail outlets. Small shops can still import enough stock from nearby gulf countries though or even from Europe and United States.

Naughty Dog and Sony is taking enough fire from fans already for ruining their experience of The Last of Us Part II following a disastrous story leak, which may hurt sales to a greater degree and now they are slammed with a regional ban.