In the wake of Grand Theft Auto V being removed from the shelves of two Australian retailers, the game’s parent publisher Take-Two has spoken out, with president Karl Slatoff stating that the decision is against freedom of expression, and an act of a company making a decision for its entire customer base.
“It’s one thing for a person to not want to buy a piece of content, which is completely understandable. And that’s really the solution. If you don’t like it, if it’s offensive to you, then you don’t buy it,” said Slatoff at the BMO Capital Markets Technology and Digital Media conference. “But for a person or a group of people to try to make that decision for millions of people… If these folks had their way, none of those people would be able to buy Grand Theft Auto.”
“And that really just flies in the face of everything that free society’s based on,” Slatoff said. “It’s the freedom of expression, and to try to quelch that is a very dangerous and slippery slope to go down. So it’s really more disappointing for us in that regard than it is in the context of our business. Our business is going to be completely unaffected by this. It doesn’t make a difference to us. At the end of the day, though, it’s not something that you want because it’s just a poor leadership decision.”
It’s all in response to Australian stores Kmart and Target pulling GTA V from their shelves after becoming concerned about the game’s depiction of violence against women. “Following a significant review of all content in Grand Theft Auto Games Kmart has made the decision to remove this product immediately. Kmart apologises for not being closer to the content of this game,” a Kmart spokesperson told Gamespot.
The move comes despite Australia now having an R18+ certificate for games, which was finally granted last year. Grand Theft Auto V is rated R18+ in the country, and was not refused classification, and therefore completely legal for sale.
Despite the lack of sales from Kmart and Target, Slatoff isn’t worried. “It’s not impactful to our business, frankly. Australia is relatively small. Two retailers are relatively small in the context of Australia. There’s other places for folks to buy Grand Theft Auto in Australia.”