Censorship in video games is nothing new, especially in countries other than the United States. Australia has a long list of games that it has censored using its rating system including the recent Outlast II. Other countries can be more blatant.
Malaysia doesn't even bother with the pretense of using a rating system; it just outright bans any media it sees unfit for Malaysian consumers. The Grand Theft Auto series, banned in 2008, is a good example. So it might come as no surprise that the Malaysian government is again trying to stop a game from being distributed in its country.
Fight of Gods by independent publisher PQube Games is a Street Fighter-like knock off, that pits gods from myth and religion against each other. I’ve tried the game myself and wasn't that impressed. It has an overly simplified combat system, controls that don't always work, graphics that are mediocre at best, and a frame rate that sometimes drops to absurd levels. That said, it has received mostly good reviews on Steam.
You can fight in iconic arenas like Mount Olympus, the Garden of Eden, and the Red Sea. The cast of gods includes Zeus, Odin, Jesus, Buddha, and even Moses who is not a god, but still holds his own. Oddly enough, Muhammad does not appear in the game, which raises the question; why is a predominantly Muslim nation so concerned as to ban the game?
According to Malaysian online news publication, The Star, “The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will be asking [Steam] the platform provider for the video game 'Fight of Gods' to disable downloads for Malaysian users within 24 hours.”
The commission takes issue with the way that the gods and religious leaders are portrayed in the game. It feels that it degrades religions and threatens racial unity.
“It is in the public interest to ensure that immediate steps are taken so that such contents do not continue to harm others,” said Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak, the Communications and Multimedia Minister.
Apparently, the game violates Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act of 1998, which prohibits the creation and distribution of offensive content. If Steam refuses to block the content from Malaysian accounts, the MCMC will “take further action.” Salleh did not indicate what other actions were available or would be taken, only vowing that the game's distribution would be stopped.
“Malaysians respect all cultural and religious sensitivities, and the sale and distribution of the religiously insensitive and blasphemous games must be stopped immediately,” he said.
One reviewer on Steam reports that some Malaysian users are already blocked from accessing the title.
Fight of the Gods is currently in early access and is normally available for $7.99, but ironically Steam has it on sale right now for $4.79. That offer ends September 11.