updated 07:55 pm EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
Board of Film and Video Censors bars sales, seen as inappropriate to current situation
Thailand put a ban on sales on a city-building game in a similar vein to Sim City this week, based on some similarities to its political situation. The country's Board of Film and Video Censors, which is part of the Ministry of Culture, banned sales of Tropico 5 after declaring that some contents are not appropriate for the current political situation.
The Tropico series focuses its core on city-building, with players taking on the role of El Presidente, a leader than can turn dictator on a small island looking to build an empire. The games allows players to take different routes to achieve in-game goals by bettering the land for the people, building a military power house or creating a tourist trap. Those goals can be reached through peaceful means, but also through force and media manipulation -- which might be hitting too close to home for Thailand.
Tropico 5 was released in North America three days after Thailand was placed under a military dictatorship following the overthrow of the civilian government. A number of items have been blocked from the country, including some aspects of the media, as well as a temporary ban on Facebook.
New Era, the company that is publishing Tropico 5 in Thailand, previously published the last two games in the series without issue in the country. Nonglak Sahavattanapong spoke with the Associated Press, saying that the publisher was told "some contents of the game are not appropriate for the current situation." She added that the company wouldn't appeal the Board of Film and Video Censors ruling.
Kalypso Media confirmed the ban in statement to Gamespot, stating the country has refused to allow distribution. Global Managing Director for Kalypso Media Simon Hellwig mirrored statements from New Era that Tropico 5 wouldn't be granted a release status, nor would the publisher be appealing. Hellwig added that the company was disappointed. Global Managing Director Stefan Marcinek took a different approach.
"This does sound like it could have come from one of El Presidente's own edicts from the game," said Marcinek.
It isn't the first time that a piece of media has been outlawed in the country. Censors in Thailand look at a number of factors when banning or censoring media, including nudity, drugs and smoking. It isn't uncommon for governments to issue a ban or force changes in a game because of its content either. Earlier this year, Bethesda had to change the antagonists to be "The Regime" in Wolfenstein: The New Order in order to release the game in Germany.