One country will not be getting Final Fantasy XVI (FFXVI) when it launches later this year, as it is banned in Saudi Arabia. The Public Authority for Media has made an official statement. No reason was offered. [Thanks, Resetera and Glitched!]
The ESRB listed why Final Fantasy XVI received a “Mature” rating, as opposed to the series’s usual “Teen.” Reasons include sex scenes, torture scenes, drug use, prostitution, hate crimes, and sexual content. The Public Authority for Media did not pointed out what scene Square Enix refuses to compromise on. However, scenes for the game contain lots of violence, blood splatter, references to prostitution, partial nudity, and “a character caressing and straddling a man in bed.” Though the announcement was vague, only citing that Square Enix refuses to make necessary modifications to Final Fantasy XVI, we have seen Saudi Arabia ban other games for similar situations.
The large number of banned games include BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Dragon Age: Inquisition, God of War, Heavy Rain and The Last of Us II, While a Final Fantasy XVI ban in Saudi Arabia might not affect gamers outside the country today, similar censorship may become more noticeable in the future. In April 2023, Saudi Arabia put $38 billion into game development and publishing. The gaming industry also received $488 million in funding in February 2023.
We will see Final Fantasy XVI come out on the PS5 on June 22, 2023. There will be a six-month exclusivity period. Unless something changes on Square Enix’s end, the game will not be available in Saudi Arabia.