The anti-LGBT beliefs of the Saudi Arabian government has come for Square Enix’s blockbuster RPG Final Fantasy 16. Banned in Saudi Arabia, Final Fantasy 16 will be inaccessible to RPG fans in the country.
Revealed in a Twitter post by the General Commission for Audiovisual Media, Final Fantasy 16 is officially banned in Saudi Arabia.
The mega-RPG has not been cleared for release within the country due to the inclusion of “unacceptable content”. In layman’s terms, the game includes a number of LGBTQ characters that the Saudi censor board would like removed.
Saudi Arabia’s general commission board blames Square Enix for the game’s ban. The censorship board explains that the Japanese game publisher has shown “unwillingness” to remove its queer content from the game.
“For fans of Final Fantasy 16, we would like to clarify that it has not been released in the Kingdom, due to the publisher’s unwillingness to make the necessary modifications,” the Commission Board tweeted.
According to numerous tweets from video game supervisor Hattan Tawili, Saudi Arabia has been arguing with Square Enix for almost a year to remove the offending content. However, the game publisher has not budged an inch on the inclusion of LGBTQ scenes within the game.
Without specifically naming Final Fantasy 16, Tawili complained that the Saudi governments attempts to censor queer content in the game has been futile. Square Enix is said to have expressed “complete refusal” to change anything within the game.
“One of the biggest games of the year, unfortunately, after all the attempts during the past eight months without any success the game is on its way to being banned due to the company’s complete refusal to modify the content to suit the region,” the censor agent claimed.
According to Tawili, the unannounced offending content is included within the game in “abundance”. Due to the Saudi government’s complete ban on LGBTQ media, this could mean anything from showing a queer relationship on screen to simply having more than one gay character.
Saudi Arabia has been banning more and more titles as LGBTQ content becomes more mainstream in Western media. Famously, The Last of Us Part II was banned for showing protagonist Ellie kissing another woman; a number of Marvel movies and films have also been banned for similar reasons.
Nevertheless, despite the ongoing outrage at LGBT media by certain areas of the world, games don’t appear to be slowing down on the inclusion of queer characters. Which, in our opinion, is only a good thing.
Furthermore, Square Enix’s refusal to censor its own content is a good move for the company. For decades, game developers and filmmakers have been forced to remove content from media to meet the restrictions of bigoted governments around the world. While some companies are still censoring titles to release in regions such as Russia or China, it’s becoming far rarer.