After rumours surfaced earlier this week claiming that Final Fantasy XVI, the upcoming action-RPG from Square Enix, was banned in the Middle East, we now have confirmation that the game will not launch in Saudi Arabia. While the exact details of the ban is mostly unknown, the leaker who first reported the news claims that Saudi Arabia wanted Square Enix to change “explicit” scenes in the game involving a gay character.
As it turns out, Square Enix didn’t budge which caused Saudi Arabia authorities to release a statement confirming that Final Fantasy XVI will be banned from release in the country due to the developer not complying with the change requests. “For fans of the [Final Fantasy XVI] game, 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,” reads the statement from VGAR SA.
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A leak was posted a few months ago detailing that Final Fantasy XVI would be blocked from release in the Middle East due to a certain gay character in the game having explicit scenes. Square Enix refused to censor or alter the scenes which led to the recent official ban from authorities. The identity of the character has already been leaked online but we won’t be posting their name here for spoiler reasons.
Originally, the report noted a video game ban in Saudi Arabia which turned out to be the Horizon Burning Shores DLC. That DLC also includes homosexual characters and content. However, the leaker now says that while Burning Shores was banned in certain Middle East regions, the board has also banned Final Fantasy XVI for the same reason. He also suggests the content is “explicit” which was the cause for the ban.
Most fans in Saudi Arabia have expressed their disappointment in the decision to ban Final Fantasy XVI while others supported Square Enix for not folding and changing the content of the game. Video game censorship in Saudi Arabia is more extensive than we think as this has happened a few times before for major releases in the country. Saudi Arabia is also investing heavily in the gaming industry, as one Reddit user pointed out:
“Just remember this when Saudi Arabia is finished spending their proposed several 10s of billions on buying up game studios and what that will mean for the industry. They are already the largest stakeholders in Nintendo outside of Nintendo themselves.”
Final Fantasy XVI launches on 22 June 2023 exclusively for PS5.
Source: VGAR SA