Why China Banned Battlefield 4, Modern Warfare 2, And 40 Other Games

Why China Banned Battlefield 4, Modern Warfare 2, And 40 Other Games

Censorship is a pervasive issue all across the world, but nowhere is it more evident than it is in China. Here, media content falls under extreme scrutiny before it can be released to the public, and video games are no different.

China’s Ministry of Culture has, over the years, released public notices denouncing certain games for content-related issues — games such as Battlefield 4 — banning them as well as admonishing them.

Games can get banned by the Ministry of culture for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes these reasons are so tenuous or intangible that they don’t really make sense. On top of that, ever since the /”console ban” in 2000, console games on the whole are technically not allowed in China: since consoles cannot be sold openly in the country, the ministry doesn’t inspect these games at all.

On the flipside, there have been games and consoles allowed for sale within the Middle Kingdom. Nintendo was able to release the N64, the Nintendo DS, and the 3DS in China under the iQue brand. The games that are openly sold in China were, of course, approved by the relevant ministries.

Why China Banned Battlefield 4, Modern Warfare 2, and 40 Other Games

Many console games that were ported to the PC were allowed into China as well, even though some PC games are banned; it’s common knowledge among Chinese gaming press, for example, that Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed III wasn’t allowed to go on sale in China despite not being actually banned.

It’s not 100% clear what deems a game unfit for sale in China. The three official criteria are promoting gambling, promoting drugs, and portraying China in a bad light. These pretty much guarantee that Grand Theft Auto will never legally enter China.

The following is a list of 39 games so “bad” that the Chinese government deemed it necessary to openly denounce them. The list is from 2011 and was originally “leaked” by Chinese gaming website 173173.com and gaming forum 3DGame.com.

1) Call of Duty 2

2) CoD 4: Modern Warfare

3) CoD 5: World At War

4) CoD: Modern Warfare 2

5) Shellshock Nam ’67

6) Shellshock 2 Blood Trails

7-19) Everything related to Grand Theft Auto

20) Kane and Lynch: Dead Men

21) Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days

22) Mafia

23) Mafia 2

24) Saint’s Row

25) Saint’s Row 2

26) Total Overdose

27) True Crime: New York

28) Ture Crime: Streets of LA

29) Mercenaries

30) Mercenaries 2

31) 50 Cent: Bulletproof

32) 50 Cent: Blood on The Sand

33) Godfather

34) Godfather 2

35) Scarface

36) Crackdown

37 – 39) The whole Siren series.

The following games aren’t listed but are publicly known to be banned in China.

Command and Conquer: Generals

Battlefield 4

Looking at the above list, the biggest “genre” that China seems to dislike are games related to organised crime. It’s interesting that the games on the public lists are mostly console games. There are lists of banned PC and mobile games, but they’re mostly related to gambling and the like.

Ministry of Culture, 3Dgame.com


    • I dunno, it might be significantly less open than other societies and it might be run by authoritarian arseholes but at least you’d never be subjected to 50 Cent: Blood on The Sand there…

    • A gross lie. There are many places in China where it is possible to breathe air which is close to, or even below, international standards for air pollution. Most of those places are not contaminated by toxic waste, and in some of them you can earn a decent income.

      As long as you don’t publicly flout the government, getting a death sentence in these places is actually quite rare.

      (For the subtlety-deficient: I am actually AGREEING with akira_22.)

  • alot of those games date back a while,
    Australias banned games list is almost that long which include some really cool ones such as syndicate and postal 2, but with Australia it sometimes gets re-released, but a city wok dubbed down version

    • Postal 2 isn’t banned here is it? I bought it on Steam without issue a year ago or so, and they usually stick to the rulings for Australia, even with other developers. Or is that only when there is a local low violence version and not an outright ban?

      Edit: Whilst Postal 2 might be allowed on Steam despite the ban, the last rced game that’s available on Steam (Syndicate is EA, so Origin), Risen, is indeed not for sale with an Aussie IP.

      Edit 2: Although using the VPN whilst signed in with my Australian account does nothing to stop me from purchasing it. On sale for $5, might see what all the fuss is about.

  • I would imagine Battlefield 4 being unlisted but banned relates to the storyline of the game. It’s not the usual ‘China vs America = The Chinese Are Dicks’ crap military shooters usually get into. It’s China vs the Chinese with American forces dragged into the middle of it. The plot moment to moment isn’t that deep, even by the end it’s mostly just an excuse to keep changing the setting, but it’s all about the Chinese people standing up to government and military corruption.
    Without going too deep into spoilers China is on the verge of civil war due to a political movement promising to bring transparency and all that to Chinese government. Admiral Chang attempts to overthrow the Chinese government by assassinating the leader of the movement and pinning it on American forces. Then a bunch of explosions, cool helicopter stuff and bad ass Russians happen.

    The Ministry of Culture would probably prefer not to talk about it period and hope people assume it’s just banned because of the usual stuff and forget about it.

  • China is still a bit sensitive. For all their bravado and bluster, they still feel weak and this is why they will not allow these games to be played. It really shows the government’s feelings of insecurity, more than anything else – they don’t even trust their own people. How insulting is that.

    No matter what insults Americans and Westerners throw against China, the biggest insult against the Chinese people is how terrified, mistrusting and hateful their own government can be against them. That’s the real insult, one Chinese citizens shouldn’t put up with. Your own government has absolutely no faith in you whatsoever.

  • I think if the next COD/battlefield/brodudeshooter had the valiant *insert appropriately cliched name for squad of special forces* battling the evil Australian rebels who have risen from nowhere to threaten the good ol’ American way of live and freedom …. That our government may have something to say about it.

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