The department store chain Target has announced it will be removing copies of Grand Theft Auto V from its stores after receiving feedback from customers about the game’s depiction of violence against women. Grand Theft Auto V was originally released last September, and was recently re-released on current-generation consoles.
Target General Manager Corporate Affairs Jim Cooper said in a release, “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. 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 GTA5 is in line with the majority view of our customers.”
Target’s decision comes after a Change.org petition was launched by a group of former sex workers who opposed Grand Theft Auto for its violence against women, and called on the company to remove the game from sale. “This game spreads the idea that certain women exist as scapegoats for male violence,” reads the petition, “It shows hatred and contempt for women in the sex industry and puts them at greater risk.”
The group focussed on Target because it was a large business that cut across all demographics. Nicole*, one of the petitioners, told News Limited she wanted the Wesfarmers-owned department store to set an example, “I think they would be rewarded by their customers. It would be history-making. It would be sending a really clear message…that we’re not going to tolerate violence against women.”
Mr Cooper told New Game Plus this petition was one of the factors taken into consideration, “This was a decision based on customer feedback and concern, taking into account the petition, as well as customer interaction on our Facebook page, our call centre and our stores.”
Target stores will continue to sell other R18+ video games and media.
In a similar move, New Zealand retailer The Warehouse announced last week it was pulling all R18+ video games and DVDs from its stores. The company singled out Grand Theft Auto V in its decision.
[Update] Fellow Wesfarmers brand Kmart has also pulled Grand Theft Auto V from its stores. “Following a significant review of all content in Grand Theft Auto Games, Kmart has taken the decision to remove this product immediately,” said a Kmart spokesman, “Kmart apologises for not being closer to the content of this game.”
Meanwhile, Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive Software, has issued the following statement: “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. 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.”
*’Nicole’ is a pseudonym assumed by one of the petitioners
Disclosure: New Game Plus host Jason O’Callaghan is an employee of Wesfarmers
[3/12/14 11:52pm — Updated to include Jim Cooper’s comments regarding the petition]
[4/12/14 2:32pm — Updated to include Kmart’s decision and Mr Zelnick’s statement]
[Sources: News Limited, ABC News, Stevivor]