Battlefield 3 Banned in Iran Over Tehran Scenario

Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that Electronic Arts' just-released military first-person shooter Battlefield 3 has been banned in Iran based on an in-game scenario involving a fictional assault on Tehran. The scenario in question involves intense gunfights taking place in various military, industrial and urban areas located in the capital, including Tehran's historic Grand Bazaar.

"All computer stores are prohibited from selling this illegal game," an unnamed deputy with the security and intelligence division of Iran's police said in a statement.

According to the report, a Tehran-based IT union warned all shops to abide by the ban, and so far many seem to be heeding the warning. Several shops even declined to stock the game when it was released, anticipating a possible ban over the sensitive issue.

However a number of shops have apparently refused to cooperate, as one store owner stated that police raided several shops and actually arrested owners for secretly selling the shooter... before the ban was officially set into place.

What makes this ban interesting is that the game isn't legally available in Iran in the first place. There are no official EA resellers established in Iran, leaving room for pirated copies to reach every street corner. For the publisher, the ban is a good thing, as the company hopes it will help prevent pirated copies from reaching Iranian players. Had Battlefield 3 been legally available on retail shelves, EA would currently be singing a different (sad) tune.

Still, legal or not, Battlefield is causing angst amongst the Iranian people, especially a group of Iranian youths. Currently they are protesting the game via an online petition to the Iranian government, and have thus far received more than 5,000 signatures to back their cause.

"We understand that the story of a videogame is hypothetical ... (but) we believe the game is purposely released at a time when the U.S. is pushing the international community into fearing Iran," the group claims.

Developed by DICE, EA's highly-anticipated Battlefield 3 sold more than 5 million copies after storming retails shelves for an entire week. The game is currently available here in the States for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.

  • Parsian
    yeah, all the copies over there are fake and IM from there originally (not that you cannot buy the original, infact people do find them much more valuable but too expensive)

  • Parsian
    the other thing is, people over there do spend money on digital goods. even though, they may not make enough money. With some 18% inflation and tons of EU/US sanctions, people like to spend money on tech industry. To just put it to perspective about how bad the economy is, over there, a Mechanical Engineer with Masters could make as low as 400 bux a month while the cost of food and electronics are almost comparable to Canada (US is way cheaper in many things!)

    However, if somehow, one of these studios (non american publishers), open a branch in Iran, they could sell their legal product because people simply spend their money on it.

    One other issue is, the internet over there is so filtered and so slow. Online gaming is problematic in many cases and often beyond the reach dude to heavy filtering. So another reason to make people not want to spend money on an online game that they cannot play online too often.

  • danwat1234: we can't buy it online from foreign sites. we don't have credit card or anything else. we don't have much choices, we have to download it or buy the pirated copies (well, this one got banned so it's not an option).
    they don't officially release games here so they should know that we have to use pirated copies.
  • iinlane
    I have logged 67 hours in that game by now and I'm still at 3rd SP mission. Based on my exp the ones who should ban this game are yankies and ruskies.
  • celpas
    pirating the game was useless anyway.You can't play multiplayer and without multiplayer bf3 has THE WORST CAMPAIGN till date.Good luck playing that FUBAR campaign
  • alyoshka
    I really don't see the Iranian side of the story. It ought to be treated as just an Invasion of one Country of another. Although , I don't doubt the political POV of the Hype of Iran as a threat, since the US has been doing that ever since they invaded or as the Americans like to say, Freed, Iraq , they have been highlighting the Iran issue which is just setting the foundations for a future Iran invasion , occupation or Freedom. Call it whatever they like it is still an invasion and illegal occupation.
    So it's not actually EA that is responsible for the story line entirely, but, current affairs and international relations. But banning the game is a different story, why take it in that stride, why not use it to get your own army to practice :) and work on what they know or feel they know to strengthen yourselves.
    I'm presently on Night Shift (SP Mission) and I personally really don't make a connection between Iranians and the Bad guys shown in the game.... Really.... didn't even know it had anything to do with Tehran.... I thought that was history by now....
  • cronik93
    iinlaneI have logged 67 hours in that game by now and I'm still at 3rd SP mission. Based on my exp the ones who should ban this game are yankies and ruskies.
    Care to explain why? I hate it when people make comments like this^ and fail to elaborate any of it...
  • back_by_demand
    Can the Iranians buy it via Steam?

    Also who gives a hoot if it is in Tehran, since when did the location or racial demograph of a game character ever matter before?

    Lots of free advertising, that's all this is.
  • pcworm
    Iranian guy here
    pirating is actually not a big problem for many people, although there are many bans and filters on the internet, torrents are somehow left alone (hurrah)
    not that I am encouraging anyone to pirate it, but its a last resort here.
    the funny thing is, there are numerous (500+) small corporations, dedicated to bering the latest and greatest warez releases to the public! with proper printed cases and prices as low as 1$/DVD

    salary: I am a grad student at TMU, quiet a good university, logging a total of 130hrs/month and earning 780$ a month, as a programmer and software engineer, so go figure...

    a good internet connection here is 1Mb/s, costing upward of 50$ a month (unlimited download)so theoretically (for us practically) most new software can be downloaded in 2-3 days using bit torrent

    not a pretty picture, I know

    and no, we can not use steam because:
    1) we have no access to international credit cards
    2) online shops like itunes, android market and steam, do not provide services to us
  • claydavis
    I thought this would happen to Call of Duty Games. But poor BF Games got into it.