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.