Target Australia Pulls GTA V Due To Depictions Of Violence Against Women

Target Australia has announced it will be pulling all copies of Grand Theft Auto V from stores after an online petition demanding that the retailer withdraw the game acquired over 41,000 signatures.

According to Target Australia's general manager corporate affairs Jim Cooper, it was this feedback that directly influenced the decision to remove Grand Theft Auto V.

"We've been speaking to many customers over recent days about the game, and there is a significant level of concern about the game's content," Mr Cooper said. "We've also had customer feedback in support of us selling the game, and we respect their perspective on the issue. However, we feel the decision to stop selling GTA 5 is in line with the majority view of our customers."

The petition was launched by a group of women who have suffered directly from sexual violence and abuse.

"We have firsthand experience of this kind of sexual violence," reads the petition. "It haunts us, and we've been trying to rebuild our lives ever since. Just knowing that women are being portrayed as deserving to be sexually used by men and potentially murdered for sport and pleasure — to see this violence that we lived through turned into a form of entertainments is sickening and causes us great pain and harm."

The fact that the petition focused on one single outlet, on one single game, resulted in a singular point of pressure that, for Target, was impossible to ignore.

Despite the fact that it will be removing the game from shelves, Target will continue to sell other R18+ rated content.

"While these products often contain imagery that some customers find offensive, in the vast majority of cases, we believe they are appropriate products for us to sell to adult customers," explained Cooper.

"However, in the case of GTA 5, we have listened to the strong feedback from customers that this is not a product they want us to sell."

New Zealands's largest retailer, NZ Warehouse Group, previously removed all copies of Grand Theft Auto V from shelves. That decision was made after the Stop Demand Foundation approached the group. According to founder Denise Ritchie, the first person mode in the new, updated version of the game was the reason why her group decided to act.

"GTA has always been a deeply misogynistic, hyper-masculine game that reduces women largely to strippers and prostitutes," she said. "However, the new 1st person interactive mode released globally last week significantly ratchets up gamers’ experiences."

There is no mention in the petition regarding the first-person mode being a catalyst for the ban. However, in an interview with, one petition founder, Nicole, mentioned the first-person view specifically, claiming it had "upped the ante".

"You get to feel what it feels like to do this to somebody,” she said.

As a former sex worker and a victim of violence Nicole found Grand Theft Auto V desensitised people to violence against women.

"[T]his is about torturing and the ritualised murder of women," she told "It’s frightening that people are desensitised to it."

Grand Theft Auto V was initially classified in 2013, receiving an R18+ rating. It was re-rated in 2014 for the HD re-release, although this rating wasn't the result of in-game violence but rather the use of drugs within the game, which was deemed "high impact" by the Classification Board. The latest version of the game also received a high impact rating for its 'themes', but it received only a 'strong impact' for its violence. If Grand Theft Auto V was to be rated on its violence alone, there is a good chance the game would have been rated MA15+. It's worth noting that before the R18+ rating came into effect most Grand Theft Auto games managed to make it past the Classification Board at MA15+.

Reaction to the news was swift:

But there were also tweets from people who approved of the decision:

On Target Australia's Facebook page the debate was more heated with a 4000-strong comment thread.

A large number of petitions have emerged as a result of the decision, but the situation is fragmented. Some are playing it straight, like this one; others are petitioning Rockstar themselves to "not give in". Other petitions are claiming that Grand Theft Auto provides players with the choice to perform "equal opportunity violence". Some took a different tack, demanding that if Grand Theft Auto V was removed from stores, the book 50 Shades Of Grey should also be taken off-sale.

Grand Theft Auto V's publisher, Take-Two, expressed disappointment at the decision.

"We are disappointed that an Australian retailer has chosen no longer to sell Grand Theft Auto V — a title that has won extraordinary critical acclaim and has been enjoyed by tens of millions of consumers around the world," said Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software. "Grand Theft Auto V explores mature themes and content similar to those found in many other popular and groundbreaking entertainment properties. Interactive entertainment is today's most compelling art form and shares the same creative freedom as books, television, and movies. I stand behind our products, the people who create them, and the consumers who play them."


    One less boring game in Target, I guess.

      Maybe not, this is doing the rounds on Gizmodo: even better way to get back at these mothers groups is to boycott games from target/kmart and get their favourite book banned instead.

        Wow, 342 supporters! You're nearly at 41000!

          I think there are a lot of similar petitions around, so all the votes are fragmented.

          This one seems to be taking off though (almost 10,000 in about 24 hours).

          Last edited 05/12/14 9:04 am

            Petition author can't even spell "comment"...eww.

      I'm not sure what you're opinion of it being 'boring' had to do with it.... What if the games you loved playing were pulled from sale because I thought they were boring?

      The issue here is that Target execs, who probably don't play these games, are under the impression that GTA V "promotes" violence against women, with some women going so far as to say that killing or making women results in added health points or other rewards/incentives. This is complete nonsense.

      Hey its not just r18+ you can play golf PLAY tennis drive fast cars so why don't you take gta4 from the shelf because its the same thing you just wait your going to but it on stock because you just frew next gen out the door snarf target snarf kmart

        Gta 4 is worst than gta v

    It's a shitty position for Target to be in.

    This is an instant lose from a PR standpoint, and the second this hits morning tv... and it will, this becomes another "murder simulator that teaches kids to assault women".
    Mainstream press isn't going to suggest that parents supervise their own children, because that'd piss off their target audience. They're not going to suggest not buying games for children under the age rating, because that'd be telling their audience off.

    Target really had no option... poor bastards.

      There's also the fact that coming to the discussion with 'facts and logic' won't get the papers or morning shows nearly as many ratings as a big fat controversy will, so time to jump on the band-wagon, "Orgasmic Rape Simulation" it is.

      They had the option to have some debates with industry leaders in interactive entertainment in Australia. Yet they didn't.

      Whilst I whole heartedly agree with preventing violence against women, the women saying the game "promotes" violence and/or sexual violence towards women have clearly never played it.

      Given there is a scene in which you torture a man in the game, why is that considered ok? Is it that men can handle torture and women can't?? There are no female military or police officers in the game, also not discussed. There are sexist stand points all over GTA, most are deliberate because it's a very satirical game.

      The fact that this game has been out for over a year now, and it's the ~12th game branded with a GTA title almost makes this argument redundant.

      Some are saying Target has made an admirable move by addressing violence against women over profits, yet the bulk of money R* and Target made with GTA V would have come and gone already. This looks to me like a "we're the good guys here" PR stunt that achieves very little.

      Last edited 04/12/14 9:32 am

      What do you mean the had on options?

      Simply stating that that the game does not, in any way actually force its Adult R18+ audience to commit violance agianst any specific gender or race and that they are comfortable with the game being sold to an adult audience along with their range of R18+ movies and books like Fifty Shades of Grey?

      Sensible well thought out public response > kneejerk reaction to femists playing victim game.

    Who the hell buys games at target anyway?? If its cheaper there just take proof and get eb to price match. This way you save the money and stick it to those price gouging bastards in the process!

      I have not brought a game from target since 1998. I was living in the country and target was the only place to buy video games at that time.

        I don't have a problem with GTA5 but as a father of a little girl I do have some concerns about the length of girls shorts.........they should fix that problem too.

          Short shorts have been around since the 60s. That's not GTAV's fault.

            He's not saying its GTAV's fault he's saying that target should not sell short shorts.

              Ah. Well if you're buying clothes from Target then the length of the shorts should the be the least of your concerns.

      Bought smash bros with the gamecube adapter on Saturday. Worked out pretty well for me.

        Return it immediately. It clearly depicts violence against men, women, children, pets, pokemon and whatever the heck Kirby is.

      erm target was and is one of the cheapest. on avg 64 to 68 for a brand new game.

      I do.
      A lot of people do, actually. My friend who worked at eb games tells me Target usually sells out much faster than they do, which is fine for EB as they refuse to price match while Target doesn't have any stock. They spend most of the day checking hour-to-hour calling Target to see if they have stock and the price changes dramatically based on it.

        Not true, they price much regardless of stock from another store.

          ..but it is actually true. I'm not making this up for the fun of it. Sure, this probably varies from store to store but I have no doubt there have been countless consumers who have run into this.

            Hmm. That is unfortunate then. My local EB has fantastic staff, and they never question anything related to price matching. Obviously some inconsistencies there, maybe there are in Target too! Perhaps there is one Target out there with some secret copies of GTA V left for sale....

          It is true. We were denied a lower price on The Last of Us PS4 edition initially as Forest Lake Target was out of copies of TLOU. I then remembered DSE, got it for 58 lmao.

      This is really the main point: Target could stop selling games altogether and no-one would care. It's not gonna start a domino effect; JB and EBGames are looking on going "You idiots..." for them refusing to sell one of the best-selling games in history. Fail by Target, I could name at least 10 other games they sell that discriminate against women and promote VAW.

      EB never price match anything.. thats why all their versions come with dlc like and exclusive pair of pants!

      that way they wont price match because it is different.

        Mine price match everything...

        I've even had instances where I've asked them to price match one retailer (say JB), and they've told me that it's cheaper again somewhere else (BigW for example)... and then they've matched the lower price.

          I want your store..... :(

            Tea Tree Plaza, South Australia.

            The commute may be a problem for you.

              yep 5+ hours and 440km one way haha :( lucky you tho i remember when i brought starcraft 2 for PC and it was $69 at dicksmith and $99 at EB and they wouldn't price match because it was to low -_-

    Violence against women has been around since the beginning of time.
    The game is aimed as adults who generally have the maturity to know that you don't treat women in real life like you do in games. I think it's a stupid decision that will only lose them money.

      But the point is that the game never ever alerts you to the fact this is possible or forces you into killing women, prostitute or otherwise. There is no mission in the game from memory which says to go out and pay for a prostitute and then murder her. The violence in GTA is largely against males; the narrative itself has you torture a man and of course kill hundreds of them over the course of the game.

      Never are you rewarded for killing a woman in this game. These people have no frame of reference, they haven't taken the time to play the game, they have only gone out and cherry picked content on the internet which fits their stance and have then pressured a retailer to stop selling it.

      The head of Target sounded reasonable in yesterdays article and then seemed to do a full 180 and go the other way.

        This is my argument too. Some of these 'activists' involved in the petition have claimed that, through the killing of women the player can earn added health points or other rewards/incentives. What nonsense. If that were the case, the OFLC would probably have refused the classification of this game.


    Meanwhile the actual sources of domestic violence are still alive and well and this decision will have no impact.

    Last edited 04/12/14 7:05 am

      I agree there are much better ways to stop violence against women. A PR stunt on a game that would have made Target enough money by now serves only to make Target look good, nothing more.

    Well, it's not like you can't get the game anywhere else.
    Target is (to generalize) more of a mum shop anyway, so... good for them, i guess?
    I dunno....

      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Socialist.
      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

      First it's removed from Warehouse NZ, then from Target. How many more stores will be pressured to pull the game before we draw the line? Yes, this is Target, but it represents something far worse and far more sinister - momentum. This has a serious risk of snowballing into being pulled from sale everywhere, or worse, reclassified and banned. All on the basis of misinformation and lies told by people who don't understand what they're protesting against.

      I don't know if it's 'good for them' or not, but it is absolutely not good for us.

    I sent this petition into Kotaku days ago and NOW they run the story? Do you think after this victory, this merry band will stop here? Expect the government to be petitioned to make this game RC.

    Last edited 04/12/14 7:28 am

      If they do watch a few hundred petitions pop up to ban their petition as well as numerous death'll only open up a new pandoras box of gamergate vitriol

      I knew all about the petition. Thought it best to not give it oxygen.

        Perhaps it needed a dose of common sense instead of just ignoring it. If these ignorant people (I'm hesitant to use the term SJW, but it fits) push it further, what did we fight for an R18+ rating for?

        whilst i agree to an extent with you mark, that you are indeed giving it more exposure then it deserves, there's two sides to it.

        I also sent this petition in hoping you guys would cover it on the basis that a very large ammount of those signatures, are from people who didnt sign it because they agree with it, but solely for the sake of making contructive conversation about the inaccuracies of the petition.

        a quick glance over the first few pages of comments and id say a good 60%-75% of the comments are from p0eople who disagree with this petition for numerous reasons.

        you cant leave a comment without signing the petition. might want to read more into it.

          Are you telling me that people signed the petition just so they can voice their opinion that they disagree with the petition? God dammit, we deserve stupid decisions like this if we have this many morons on our side.

            exactly. read the comments. TBF i dont think anyone believed for a split second that this petition was going to go anywhere, and just wanted a voice in this entire ordeal.

              Exactly. I saw the petition yesterday, and I too noticed that a large amount of people which signed it did so just so they could comment on how stupid it was.

              I had a chuckle and carried on with my day.

              My jaw hit the flaw when I saw the news this morning..... oh, the amount of stupid hurts my brain

      Sent it into them days ago as well mate.

    Granted I played GTA5 with a 40 decree temperature and a vomit bucket close at hand but I can't remember the violence against women level. I remember robbing banks and a mildly interesting story about manhood and dealing with middle age.........maybe the rape level is in the ps4/Xbone version??

    Last edited 04/12/14 7:31 am

      It's because you can hire a prostitute then kill her and take the money which is odd to be defining that as the games main message, you can rob and kill anyone in that game it isn't singling out women or sex workers at all.

      I dunno, there's the implied rape of Johnny Klebitz from Trevor... But that's violence against men, so it doesn't matter..

    “[T]his is about torturing and the ritualised murder of women,”

    The fact that people are so willing to believe these kinds of things without doing any research for themselves really, really scares me.

    Looks like I'm boycotting Target from now on.

      Make a petition demanding the boycott of target..

      Just knowing that women are being portrayed as deserving to be sexually used by men and potentially murdered for sport and pleasure...

      So... Clearly never actually played the game and get the entirety of their information from FOX 'news'.
      I guess these kind of people also consider that the game venerates America's obsession with fame and wealth instead of lampooning it for some sometimes affectionate - but usually not - criticism.

      The whole fucking thing is an exercise in gross exaggeration to parody or criticize. No matter who you are. That's the POINT. Liberals and Conservatives, radio shock jocks, trophy wives, gangsta wannabes, everyone gets an unflattering caricature in that game. Just because something is present, portrayed, doesn't mean it's endorsed. You're forced to go through an unbearable torture scene which all but beats you over the head with a brick wrapped in a note that says it doesn't actually endorse 'enhanced interrogation techniques'.

      And if they're complaining about what people CAN do inside a sandbox, such as picking up hookers then murdering them afterwards... you can also fire rocket launchers at buses, but the game isn't portraying public transport patrons as deserving of fiery auto death.

      Last edited 04/12/14 8:32 am

    "It’s worth noting that before the R 18+ rating came into effect all Grand Theft Auto games managed to make it past the Classification Board at MA 15+."


    Banned (RC). (late 2001) (appeal fails)
    Censored version rated MA 15+ (2002) :
    More info:

    GTA Vice City
    Distributor censored version rated MA 15+ in 2002:
    Then in 2010 it was rated MA 15+ again:
    Potentially misleading term "Modified".
    Google says it's uncensored.
    More info:

    GTA San Andreas
    Uncut version rated MA 15+ in 2004:
    Then the hot coffee mod hysteria happened, so..
    Revoked (2005) :
    After removing the hidden 'hot coffee' sex scene, re-rated MA 15+ (the following month) :
    Classified MA 15+ again just last month:
    More info:

    GTA IV
    Distributor censored version rated MA 15+ (2007) :
    Uncut version rated MA 15+ (2008) :
    More info:

    Grand Theft Auto Advance
    Rated M (2004)

    Grand Theft Auto (said to be Colour Game Boy version)
    Rated M (1999)

      Ah just correcting you there but they eventually got released as MA rated. That was their main point.

        Modified or not, the fact of the matter here was that the previous GTA games were available in the market at a lower rating than most of the western world. In the UK most if not all of these had an 18 rating.

        The whole argument for having 18+ classifications in Australia was not to flood our market with murder and rape simulators, but it was to ensure games that are meant to be for adults are rated appropriately.

    I must've played the game wrong on PS3. It seemed the vast majority (99%) of characters I killed in the game were male. But that's not a point worth focusing on?

      you mean you intentionally avoided killing women in game, and not treating them equal?
      You sexist pig!

    Is this where everyone pats Target on the back for being so socially sensitive?

    We need to break this warped mentality- banning games which depict so-called 'violence against women' will not stop violence against women in real life.

      Its not about stopping it in real life tho. Groups like this are about the total removal of it from society, witch includes video games, movies, books and so on. The main reason people go after games most of all is that they are interactive.

      Yes, video games are not real life, but if you had a bad experience that scared you for life in such a way that you would not be able to think about it without remembering exactly how it felt, then you would probably be pitty pissed if they made a game that did not really tell you that it is wrong.

      Nicole, if you even read the articular, had been a sex worker, and from the sound of it, ended up in a bad situation because of it. Now, the whole 'Shes a sex worker, what do you think would happen' argument just proves her point.

      As smart as video gamers are, it amazes me at how insensitive and stupid they can be.

      As for target, really, its there loss. People will just go to EB, BW, Kmart and so on instead. So, why bother boycotting them? They are already shooting them self in the foot.

    Just outlined the censorship history of the GTA games in Aus. I realise that whenever I mentioned a GTA game getting a MA 15+, regardless of cut status, then you are actually correct so the "Nope" doesn't apply :)

    Witness the true source of ill-will against women!

    In other news, I just pulled all my Christmas shopping spending from Target.

    Or they could have gone down the smarter route and donated some profits to the white ribbon campaign or something.

    I kind of wish the gaming community will just go "okay target, it's your business and that's fair if you want to remove the game from sale" but I suspect the community will just get angry.

      It is their business, but the reason the gaming community will get angry is because this means a can of worms has been opened. What is stopping them from creating a petition to stop other games, such as the evil within, or even smash bros. I know it sounds ludicrous, but a lot of the people objecting to these games don't actually know anything about what they're opposing, aside from maybe the gist of it.
      The reason I included Smash bros is because you beat up female characters. It's technically violence against women. It's also the fact that these people can't seem to understand that adults can differentiate between fiction and reality. It's insulting to insinuate that.
      It's Target's decision, yes, but it's also the gamers decision where they buy the game. Same with the women that were offended. They didn't have to shop at target, but if a game like that offends them, well, it's kind of their problem.

      I guess you were cool with this, too?

      Righteous outrage is fine... until it is misdirected. It should be redirected somewhere more appropriate.
      The people complaining are ignorant. They're right that violence against women is a problem, but if any of them bothered to play the game, they'd see it goes far from endorsing it.

      It's not that Target has pulled a game; of course thats their decision. Its the fact that now people who are ill-informed and have no actual facts or idea of what the real content of something is can shout as loud as they can and call VAW on something that really has nothing to do with it and still get their way. Which then influences more fools into thinking the same way.

      Instead of focussing on the actual issues of VAW it turns it into a "video games create violent misogynists who torture, rape and murder women" issue when that is absolutely ridiculous.

    GTA:V First Person Prostitute Australian Censored…:

    Obviously the last 2 GTA games I mentioned, the M rated Gameboy ones, are not part of that 'censorship history'. But they're not MA 15+ so they're relevant to include..

    I see the green leftie dogooders are at it again. The game has an R rating, so don't let your children play it. This is not a game for children. But the 38,000 people who pushed the petition are bad parents.

      This issue has nothing to do with political lines, don't make it into something it isn't.

        I am not. It's a simple stereotype. But with the Green telling people to boycott Barbie for girls and Zerf guns for boys as it incites domestic violence and a gender divide two days ago, I do think that there is a bit of political play in this, as in everything in life.

    Sometimes I wish we could take back the power that the internet has given fringe groups to make their voices heard...

    Still, at least it's only target. If they start trying to take away other peoples toys at a federal level based on mis-information then I'll be properly upset.

    I did a thing last night. Accept no imitations.

    Last edited 04/12/14 9:08 am

    Wonder if they'll pull Eminem's new album where he threatens to rape Aussie musician Iggy Azalea? Huh?

    Last edited 04/12/14 8:35 am

    Tough situation. As mentioned above, shitty position for Target to be in, especially since it's image has always been a 'family friendly' store - a lot of mums/families shopping there with kids.

    But is anyone really that surprised? It sucks because this is such a hollow, token gesture that's really not going to do anything to address the real social issues behind violence against women, and domestic violence as a whole. It's just the usual scapegoating, and as always, what easier target (no pun intended) than video games, movies and music? Just skip addressing the elephant in the room and point your guns at the bad guy.

    I'm not going to boycott Target, because I think that's just as hollow a gesture as their decision to remove GTAV. I mean I only go in there once or twice a year to maybe grab a cheap pair of shorts or undies or something, I'm not fussed.

    Last edited 04/12/14 8:36 am

      Sometimes they have games cheapest, so I might grab something from there, or Christmas decorations, but I don't actually shop there often. I used to buy clothes from there, but it's all crap now.

        I've heard that they sometimes have cheap games - never really looked though. Few times I have they've always got stock that's like 18 months old with it's full price on it.

          yeah, that's incredibly common.

        Their clothes are pretty good, actually. Target are getting better at following current fashion trends and the quality is often very similar to that of "branded" clothing.

        Last edited 04/12/14 10:16 am

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