The video game industry is one of the largest entertainment industries in the world, so it is inevitable that in some cases the video games can present ideas, plots, or other things that can become quite controversial.
Over the years, a lot of video games have earned the reputation of being some of the most controversial video games ever created and today we are going to talk about that. Whether due to graphic violence, sexual themes, Satanic roots accusation or real-world crime references, these are the 10 most controversial video games ever released.
Yeah, this is not a joke.
While a lot of video games on this list are M-Rated, the popular E-Rated Pokémon games are possibly as controversial as the other games on this list. The original Pokémon games were accused of being both racist and Satanic. Racism mainly due to the design of the Pokémon named Jynx which resembles an actor in blackface.
Currently, due to Pokémon GO, controversy has returned to the franchise mainly because Pokémon GO users have suffered physical injuries and car accidents while playing the game. Even some players have died.
In the 90s, public concern about graphic violence in video games was one of the most common issues, and Doom was heavily targeted for obvious reasons. Doom was controversial for graphic violence, gore, and Satanic themes and imagery.
But wait, there is more: Doom’s controversy extends to the real world because the game itself was blamed for influencing the horrific Columbine high school massacre because both killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were Doom fans. The massacre reignited the debate about heavily violent video games and more than one investigation were made regarding the theme.
8. Cyberpunk 2077 (console versions)
Cyberpunk 2077’s release is considered one of the most controversial releases in video game history. It was anticipated for eight years and when it saw the light of day, it was far from being what they promised us.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a good game, but it was far from the masterpiece they promised and while the Windows version was relatively good, the console versions were a complete mess. Glitches, game-breaking bugs, bad graphics and framerates; a lot of things made this game unplayable back in the day but thanks to many updates, the game is now better than before.
Rockstar Games is well-known for creating controversial video games, and Bully is one of them despite not having the same extreme graphic violence as other Rockstar Games video games like Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto.
One of the biggest reasons why Bully, despite both cult following and critical acclaim, received controversy was because the game motivates you to become a school bully and because you can kiss both girls and boys. Despite all the controversy Bully is very popular and we are still waiting for Rockstar Games to drop a Bully sequel because we need it.
6. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
The universally acclaimed Grand Theft Auto franchise has always been controversial but 2004’s San Andreas is the most controversial in the series.
The game features the drug use, the profanity and the violence typical of any GTA game but San Andreas also featured the minigame named “Hot Coffee”, a sexual minigame hidden in the game code that allows Carl “CJ” Johnson to have sexual intercourse with his girlfriends. The discovery of this minigame has a major impact on the gaming community and Rockstar Games’ refusal to comment about it was even more criticized.
5. Mortal Kombat
The Mortal Kombat franchise is one of the most famous fighting video game franchise and it is safe to say that this franchise changed the video game industry because, in case you didn’t know, Mortal Kombat is the reason why the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, exists.
It was thanks to Mortal Kombat and its gory fatalities that the gaming industry developed its own rating system because back in the day, in the early 90s, parents didn’t have any idea what kind of game they were buying and thanks to the ESRB now they know.
4. Postal 2
The Postal franchise is well known for being tasteless, disturbing, and very controversial, and despite that, it has received cult following for the wrong reasons.
Postal 2 is essentially about mass murder and because of its content it was banned in a lot of countries including New Zealand, Malaysia, and Germany. Postal 2 also apparently inspired a three-week-long theft and arson spree in Gaston County by three 19-year-olds in January 2008 and the game is usually considered one of the worst video games ever made but despite that, the game received a film adaptation and is constantly updated.
3. South Park: The Stick of Truth
Even if we talk about its animated TV series counterpart, South Park has always been controversial, and the RPG video game called South Park: The Stick of Truth, has caused controversy thanks to its edgy, and extreme black humor.
The game begins as a fantasy adventure that then turns into a strange conflict involving Nazi zombies, but the most criticized moment is the one involving an abortion clinic which was too much for some people. The game was heavily censored outside the United States. It’s a South Park video game, what did they expect?
The third Rockstar Games’ video game on this list. Manhunt is an extremely violent video game that follows ad death row prisoner called James Earl Cash who is forced to participate in snuff films to earn his freedom. Just by telling you the plot you can already imagine where things are going, right?
Manhunt was banned in a lot of countries despite receiving good reviews for its dark atmosphere and stealth approach and just like other video games, Manhunt was implicated in a murder by the UK media. The sequel, Manhunt 2, was controversial too.
Hatred is about a mass-murderer who decides to begin a “genocide crusader” to kill as many people as possible, that’s it. This game was extremely controversial and banned in multiple countries and also it was removed from Steam for a period of time due to putting the player in the role of a merciless psychopath.
The developer described Hatred as a reaction to political correctness and games as art. Even the trailer was extremely controversial. Despite being considered a cult classic, Hatred is usually considered one of the worst video games ever made.