Despite rave reviews that critics have been showering on the PlayStation 3’s latest game to hit the market, Heavy Rain will not see any shelf life in the UAE.
The videogame’s nationwide launch scheduled for later today was aborted after the UAE’s National Media Council, reportedly pulled the plug on the sales and promotion of the title, which has attracted global controversy for its depiction of nudity and violence. This decision, despite Heavy Rain’s 18+PEGI rating, signals the government’s intent on cracking down on games that are deemed unfit for the audience because of their content.
A sequence where one of the main characters is forced to go topless at gun point and perform a seductive dance at a club, were among the more objectionable aspects that probably led to the banning of the game. Heavy Rain has been described by its publisher’s Quantic Dream as psychological thriller, with four professionals on the trail of the Origami Killer, who preys on boys between eight and 13 and then subsequently drowns them in rainwater.
In an internal communiqué issued to TBWA Raad, Sony Gulf’s public relations agency, a company official from the PlayStation Division confirmed the ban admitting that the game “has been conceived from the earliest stages as a genuinely adult experience. This means that it deals with strong content including blood and nudity, but treats this content in a mature and sensitive manner.” The note also added that “the game is not intentionally controversial or sensationalist, and all the themes and content are consistent with what consumers would expect to see in a mainstream Hollywood movie.”
While the ban will disappoint hard-core console gamers, those who have followed the progress of the game from the moment it went into development believe that any such ban is not likely to affect those who have made up their mind to play the game. “There’s a flourishing gray market out there and the title will be available there, if it already isn’t,” said a gamer on condition of anonymity.
The others games to have been recently been banned in the country include THQ’s action-role player Mass Effect 2 and Electronic Arts’ action-adventure videogame Darksiders.