Target Pulls Grand Theft Auto V From Shelves

Since the next-gen re-release of Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One and Playstation 4, there have been complaints surrounding the game's treatment of women. Following a petition bearing tens of thousands of signatures, Target has bowed to community pressure and decided to remove the game from sale.

Despite the fact that the game made it through the Classification Board with an R18+ rating and went on sale around the country, Target has made the decision to pull the title this evening following "feedback from customers".

What Target means by "feedback" is pressure stemming mostly from a petition which has garnered almost 40,000 signatures in a day.

"[Grand Theft Auto 5] is a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get 'health' points – and now Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking," the petition from Nicole, Claire and Kat begins.

When they talk about sexual violence against women, specifically they mean the ability for players to "run down, run over, set alight and, still screaming, repeatedly shoot" sex workers and other female non-player characters.

"This misogynistic GTA 5 literally makes a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women. We have firsthand experience of this kind of sexual violence. It haunts us, and we've been trying to rebuild our lives ever since. Just knowing that women are being portrayed as deserving to be sexually used by men and potentially murdered for sport and pleasure – to see this violence that we lived through turned into a form of entertainments is sickening and causes us great pain and harm," it adds.

As a result, Target has pulled the game.

The company's corporate affairs manager has added, however, that it will continue to sell other R18+ rated games and films:

While [other R18+ rated] products often contain imagery that some customers find offensive, in the vast majority of cases, we believe they are appropriate products for us to sell to adult customers. However, in the case of GTA5, we have listened to the strong feedback from customers that this is not a product they want us to sell.

Despite the fact that many are in favour of the game, Target believes the decision is "in line with the majority view of customers".

Expect Target's shelves to be bare of GTA V from tomorrow.


Comments

    Not a big deal, people can simply buy it elsewhere, back on topic though GTA has always been known to depict something, if you don't remember animal rights groups voiced their concerns over the realistic nature towards killing animals, so far nothing has been done about it and it's just as gory as it's ever been.

      I think it is a big deal though, as it shows that a potentially relatively small segment of people can influence stores to determine what we can and cant buy, even after it has been passed by the proper authorities. I have no idea how far this petition would go, perhaps it will stop at under 50k, or maybe it could get 5 million. The point is that unless you know how many people don't actually support it then the outcry could be from a small percentage of the population or a large one, and because this is a petition rather than a yes/no vote then the mechanism isnt really there to find out.

      Last edited 04/12/14 12:04 am

        I don't disagree with that but Rockstar don't promote this nor doesn't anyone else I know, at the end of the day it was rated R18+ in Australia with good reason but never once was it found to depict violence against women.

        I doubt this will ever make headway as it's just not an issue with the game, it's an issue with how morons play the game and make the rest of us look bad because of it.

          That's the point though, isn't it? A decidedly small minority, fabricated a story and they've successfully forced 2 nation wide chains to pull products from shelves. You don't think that's a significant issue?

            Well their petition has more than double the number of signatures than the opposing petition, so throwing "small minority" around might not be a good idea: either it isn't a small minority, or you're in an even smaller minority.

            And what is it exactly that's been fabricated?
            I don't agree with what Target's done, but I've read their petition, and it's accurate. Which sentence are you saying is untrue?

            Last edited 07/12/14 5:35 am

              Sorry for the slow reply.

              40,000 people or something? That's a small minority. How many copies of GTA have sold? Several hundred million. Whether or not the "opposing" petition was larger or smaller is completely irrelevant.
              Which part of the petition was true? You mean, the part where they explicitly state that killing women is encouraged and an actual part of the game? The whole basis for them asking for a ban? That complete fabrication?

                I didn't say it wasn't a small minority.
                I pointed out that if you label the complaining petition a small minority, then you open the opposing petition up to being labelled an "even smaller minority" or similar. Not something I care about, but probably something you want to avoid.

                Don't conflate all GTA sales with GTA V sales: that's tens of millions, not hundreds.

                I haven't stated the petition was true. I'm unable to pick a sentence in the petition that is inaccurate.
                You stated it was fabricated. Which parts are fabricated?

                Encouragement is the persuasion, support, or stimulation for someone to do something. An in-game cash reward certainly meets the definition of encouragement.

                I can't see them "explicitly stating" that killing women is "an actual part of the game", as you claim they have. May be a good idea for you to check the definition of "explicitly".

                "The whole basis" is undefined. If you want a response to that you'll have to define it.

                Last edited 19/12/14 12:30 pm

                  I didn't conflate GTA sales with GTA V sales. I said GTA. The collective sales of the franchise is the "opposing petition".

                  You're unable to pick a sentence? How about I help you out with the first sentence of the petition? "It's a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. " Patently incorrect. It does absolutely no such thing. Fabrication.

                  Since you're having trouble reading. "This misogynistic GTA 5 literally makes a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women." They've made an explicit claim that is, again, patently incorrect.

                  And since you're having so much trouble, how about I point out the whole basis which is in the title of the petition?
                  "Target: Withdraw Grand Theft Auto 5 – this sickening game encourages players to commit sexual violence and kill women"

                  @evo666

                  Check the definition of "conflate". Total franchise sales are irrelevant.

                  The first sentence is accurate: the game is entertainment, and the in-game cash reward is encouragement.

                  The next sentence is also accurate: GTA V is a game that includes "bashing, killing and horrific violence against women" (and men...)

                  What you describe as the "whole basis" is also accurate: the cash reward is encouragement.

                  I don't agree with what Target's done, but don't argue in support of your opinion with inaccurate claims.

                  Last edited 19/12/14 12:58 pm

                  @rybo

                  I disagree that total sales are irrelevant but fine. Tens of millions against 40,000. The point still stands. Your argument over semantics has been pointless.

                  If the in-game cash is a reward (keeping in mind that you're getting back what you just paid, not extra) then the subsequent chase by police would be a rather larger disincentive, no? Kind of like, say, in reality?

                  It does not make a game of bashing women or even killing women. The only woman who dies (from memory) in the story is an accident. The fact that it's possible to kill women in the game does not "make a game of it". It most certainly does make a game of beating, torturing and killing men, but, unsurprisingly, that's not mentioned in the petition, is it?

                  The "reward" does not outweigh the consequence though, does it? The consequence is not even mentioned in the petition. Nor is the fact that the game does not actively encourage any of this. It's a choice the player makes. But, of course, that's not how the petition paints the picture, is it?
                  This game means that after various sex acts, players are given options to kill women by punching her unconscious, killing with a machete, bat or guns to get their money returned.
                  The game does not give you options. Nothing comes on the screen and says, "Press A to beat the woman to death." It's a choice the player makes, just like the choice to walk away leaving the woman that little bit richer for the experience. Which is also mentioned nowhere in the petition.

                  The petition was clearly written by someone who has never played the game and is only interested in shining the most negative of lights upon it as possible, whether it's the truth or not. Like most bleeding heart, politically correct BS these days.

                  @evo666

                  I simply don't care about the numbers - you brought them up.
                  The only reason it was discussed is because if the petitioners are a small minority, the counter-petitioners are an even smaller minority.

                  Yes, the in-game cash is encouragement.

                  The police chase afterwards may or may not be a disincentive (for some players it may even be an entertaining reward) but either way it's irrelevant: the in-game cash is still, and always will be, encouragement.

                  Of course the game gives you options to do those violent things. It also gives you the option to walk away without being violent, but again, that has no bearing on whether or not it is correct to say that it also gives violent options - which it does.

                  @rybo

                  We're clearly never going to agree.
                  You keep mentioning a counter-petition that's supposedly smaller. Millions of copies of the game is the counter-petition. Whether you accept that or not is irrelevant.

                  Maybe, by the strictest definition of encouragement. I'd argue that it's merely a by product of an action. There's no active encouragement. It's not even suggested by the game.

                  Whether or not some people view the chase as entertainment or not is irrelevant. It's clearly a disincentive, as it is in real life. And it's hardly irrelevant in this case. The disincentive far outweighs the incentive yet was never mentioned. Dishonest and misleading.

                  It's clearly misleading to suggest that the game gives you options to kill while neglecting to mention the "option" of walking away. To suggest otherwise is completely dishonest.

    That will be a slippery slope, which books and DVD/BluRays will they next remove from shelves?

      Start with 50 shades of grey please then proceed to twilight and all entertainment touched by Stephenie Meyer

        50 shades is to BDSM as Twilight is to a Mature Relationship.

      Burn them, burn them all...... we haven't had a good ol'fashioned book burning in a while

        Down with this sort of thing. Careful now.

        Lets play a game of name that protest. anyone?

    Only reason i'd ever shop in target was to buy PS4 games.. oh well, guess target just lost a loyal customer.

      I think they would lose a lot more custom from those that object to the game rather than those that want it, I cant really see many gamers not buying another game from Target that is on sale simply because they pulled a particular game from sale. They really didn't have much choice here as it was going to turn sour very quickly, bullying technique really to pick on a particular store but that was the most effective way to make a point for those that started the petition.

        Not really. No tubby housewife is actually going to boycott Target. Hell, within a week they will have all forgotten about the Grand Auto Streetfighter and on to the next thing. The threat of a 'boycott', especially via internet petition, is all bluster.

        (this also applies to all the donks claiming they will now boycott target because mah freedoms)

        Target, on the other hand, has grabbed the opportunity to promote themselves as 'family friendly', which fits with their image and product line - and do it free of charge, in all the national (and international!) media. Which is pretty savvy, I guess.

        Last edited 04/12/14 11:04 am

          The thing is, even a week of pre-xmas boycotting this close to christmas could hurt Target more than losing out on some game sales, even if its forgotten about in a few weeks.
          Personally I think women scorned are more likely to boycott over sales of sexist or violent products than blokes are over removal of said product, that's not to say that men aren't also signing this petition though.

      Please check the definition of "loyal" ;)

    I got an email asking me to join this petition yesterday but didn't even though I did think the sample video that they linked to as part of their evidence was very poor taste, though not sure if its more a case of the gamer being at fault or the game given that you have freewill to do as you please. GTA has always been about violence (or at least if you want to play it that way) but I guess its becoming more and more realistic in each version so we'll see more objections to it, but thats why we have an adults only rating for games now. Its a worry that Target caved so easily on this.

    The problem with change.org is it only allows you to see one side of the argument UNLESS you start another petition for the opposite side of the coin (sure 40000 people may have signed, but how many saw it and didnt support it). In this particular case, some people were actually adding votes to the petition purely so they could write comments of disagreement in the comments section (that's the only way you can write a comment).

    Will be interesting to see what other stores follow suit, you may find it only possible to buy it at games stores shortly as regular department stores wont want customers boycotting them over one product. Games stores probably wont give a shit though as few of their customers will support the petition.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the player isn't actually "encouraged" to kill women in the game. You have the free will to do so, but you don't have to and if you do then the police will go after you. Additionally, this isn't limited to women and you can also attack and kill the men in the game. Regardless, this has been part of GTA's gameplay for years, and everytime they release a new one people get their knickers in a knot. It wouldn't be GTA without the controversy.

      My recollection of the game is exactly that - there's zero encouragement to specifically target prostitutes. Anyone you beat up will net you cash, and it's been like that for ages in the series.

      This entire thing is another opportunity for someone to jump onto a moral high-horse which sounds like a valid moral crusade against games to people who have no idea.

      if anyone wants to read the actual petition, see below:
      The image attached to the petition was an non-contextualise but emotive image of a dead female NPC with a bloodied axe held over her.
      Pure wowserism.

      Target: Withdraw Grand Theft Auto 5 – this sickening game encourages players to commit sexual violence and kill women:

      It's a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual against against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get 'health' points – and now Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking.
      Grand Theft Auto 5 largely reduces women to strippers and prostitutes. After various sex acts that give players health points – player options are to kill women by punching her unconscious, killing with a machete, bat or guns to get their money returned.
      Please Target – we appeal to you as women survivors of violence, including women who experienced violence in the sex industry, to immediately withdraw Grand Theft Auto V from sale.
      One of many fan clips on YouTube shows the woman being run down, run over, set alight and, still screaming, repeatedly shot. This misogynistic GTA 5 literally makes a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women.
      We have firsthand experience of this kind of sexual violence. It haunts us, and we've been trying to rebuild our lives ever since. Just knowing that women are being portrayed as deserving to be sexually used by men and potentially murdered for sport and pleasure – to see this violence that we lived through turned into a form of entertainments is sickening and causes us great pain and harm.
      This game spreads the idea that certain women exist as scapegoats for male violence. Women in the industry are 40 times more likely to be murdered by a man than any other group of women. It also links sexual arousal and violence.
      Games like this are grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women. It is fuelling the epidemic of violence experienced by so many girls and women in Australia - and globally.
      Target, you pride yourself on being a family company, caring for local communities, and have a strong ethical sourcing policy. How can you do this while contributing to hostile and callous attitudes toward victims of violence and, more broadly, to all women?
      We urge you to follow the example set by the New Zealand’s largest retailer, NZ Warehouse Group, in upholding Corporate Social Responsibility and ethical corporate leadership, by removing these games.
      This would also set an example to other stockists of GTA V.
      Please put ethics before profits and make a strong statement that you do not condone sexual violence, sexual exploitation or the abuse of women as ‘entertainment’.
      Nicole, Claire and Kat

      Last edited 04/12/14 3:32 pm

        player options are to kill women by punching her unconscious, killing with a machete, bat or guns to get their money returned
        Or walk away leaving the woman unharmed and with a lot more cash (You go, gurl!) How convenient that they left part out...

    Hate to be the devils advocate but in free roam, you commit those crimes to anyone, a player seeking out just the women is the mentally ill one.

    If it's got an 18+ rating. What is the problem?

    Someone please think of the children?

    great........ See ya Target, pretty sure you just lost a Crap ton of customers. last I checked it reads R18+ on the front of the cover.

    https://www.change.org/p/target-put-gta-back-on-the-shelves

    Sign this people, get the word out there!!!

      Wondered how long it would take for someone to put this up, not sure if it's your petition or not? Gotta say though that the petition's wording doesn't really help the cause at all. Calling abused women whiners because they legitimately recognise some very dark areas of the game isn't going to win any votes from those in two minds about the situation, you also make assumptions that petition signers are not gamers which you can't accurately predict.

      Even if both sides had equal votes, Im fairly sure Target would listen to the "remove it" vote.

      I wouldn't personally support either petition at present as both are sensationalist.

      Last edited 04/12/14 9:33 am

      Cringe. That petition is terrible and as a gamer I'd be embarrassed to be associated with it. It's poorly and unintelligently written crap like that that gives gamers a bad name. The comments below it don't help either.

        @Dman.... i thought the exact same thing. I looked at the partition out of interest and the comments and went........ nope i wont be signing that. Even though i don't think its right that they remove the games from store.

    I wonder if the author of that petition contacted Target with her real name or the just knee jerked towards it in some ridiculous gesture of minority appeasement.

    I can do all the same things against men too. What's the point? Just because you can go to the strippers violence against women is worse, amirite?

    Clearly, these petitioners have not played the game and are going off one youtube clip, lucky youtuber gaining those views

    I am in the middle of creating a petition against this one, pointing out all the flaws, and the sexist nature of it. refer to This misogynistic GTA 5 literally makes a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women. It also links sexual arousal and violence.
    women are not the only NPC in the game, no encouragement to kill civilian NPCs

    But I will no complete this petition as I am worried about the backlash I will receive from this.
    Ahh freedom.

      If you worded it intelligently, recognised and addressed both sides of the argument but made reference to the fact that censors had already rated this game for Australia then you would have much less chance of receiving backlash, as opposed to the other 2 petitions asking to get it back on the shelves which were both pretty badly worded and would get roasted by the media.

      Do everyone a favor and don't embarrass yourself like every other 'counter petition' spewed out by a basement dwelling MRA neckbeard.

      for example,
      https://www.change.org/p/target-bring-back-gtav

      or
      https://www.change.org/p/target-continue-to-sell-grand-theft-auto-5-in-australia

      or
      https://www.change.org/p/rockstar-games-do-not-stop-selling-gta-v

      This guys has put more effort in, but it's pretty much just a ramble that goes in circles, focuses on minutiae and misses the point
      https://www.change.org/p/target-don-t-withdraw-grand-theft-auto-5-this-already-year-old-game-encourages-players-to-commit-equal-opportunity-violence

      Last edited 04/12/14 11:15 am

      I'd sign it.
      I understand she's a survivor of violence and that this game does depict some violence against women (well, it's violence against both genders), but when was the last time an armed forces veteran made a petition about how "sickening" it was that Hollywood and various game developers were making movies/games about war for entertainment...

    Game was released September 2013 right? Yes next gen update just came out but... Seriously? Little slow on the uptake.

    # gamersunite don't let target win!
    https://www.change.org/p/target-bring-back-gtav?recruiter=62105725&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_facebook_responsive&utm_term=mob-xs-google-no_msg

      Oh man.... another badly worded petition. Do you seriously think that belittling real world violence against prostitutes is a good thing? You guys are going to damage your cause further if you keep on this track and perhaps force censors to rethink the rating and remove it from sale in Oz altogether.

        Yous f**kers better put GTA back on the shelfs cos its sick and if not me and my boyz gunna come bang Target.

        ....this is what I imagine it says.

    I haven't shopped at Target since they caved in to the Greens and got all preachey about plastic bags.

      Lolwut? That was a good move. Plastic bags should be discouraged as much as possible. Nothing "Greens" about it, it's just common sense.

        No no, you don't understand. The environment is a malevolent force that must be stopped at all costs. Any attempt to lessen human impact on it is simply giving in and bowing to evil!

    So is Target going to remove the 50 Shades of Grey Book series too?
    It's about treating women as sex slaves!

      The women in the stories are willing participants though yeah? Big difference methinks.

    If anyone wants to send a respectable email to the Target CEO to encourage him to change his mind: [email protected]

      Key word here is RESPECTABLE. Don't give them any more ammunition to paint gamers as unintelligent, socially inept kids.

        I think you both mean "respectful". To be fair, respectable probably also works it's just not quite how you would normally use the word.

        In that sense the correct use of grammar in your email won't hurt either. For many, a poorly worded communication is indicative of the sloppiness of the writer's thought processes. If you can't construct a sentence correctly, many people will assume you can't arrange your thoughts or clearly comprehend anything either. They'll assume you're wrong before they've even understood what you're actually trying to say.

        I mean that generally, I'm not directing it specifically at you.

          Respectful! I knew "respectable" sounded a bit off but I had a complete mental block when I was trying to think of the right word. Cheers.

            Good thing my comment was sloppy and not the email haha :P

      I'd also say if you are under 18 then think extra carefully about your wording.

      Last edited 04/12/14 10:09 am

    After playing Goat Simulator, I feel the need to horrendously disrupt backyard BBQs by running mad-cap through all the people I can in the most amusing manner possible and be rewarding for it with points. In order to prevent similar disruption and anarchy I propose that Target removes all copies of Goat Simulator from shelves.

    All this publicity has finally convinced me to go buy an XB1 and GTA V. It looks pretty fun.

    Good work, hookers and 'concerned mums' who were never going to buy it anyways!

      I know hey, I didn't have the urge to play GTA5 till this.

    I agree that putting the onus on the retailer to censor the game is wrong and online petitions can make a very narrow point of view seem wider spread than it is. HOWEVER the link between sex and violence the petition highlights is pretty disturbing, I am no believer in the idea that video game violence translates to real world consequences but I do believe that this sort of depiction is more of the same misogynistic content being produced. If you don't think this affects how you think then you are part of the problem.
    I think the more pressing question is WHY THE F%^# ARE PEOPLE DESIGNING THIS %^$#

    Why stop there, ban booze and fast food. Setup little recording boxes all over the place with voice recognition that will penalise you for bad language. Bun smoking, round up disgusting obese people and hold them in a foodless camp until they lose weight.

    Ban all movies except Disney, execute the kardatians. ban dancing, close night clubs. Let everyone wear the same clothes...

    Add this too filtering our internet, monitor what we say and we will all have a great life ahead.

    Most incidences of domestic violence is fuelled by alcohol. Why is this not being banned?

    This was a alright idea. But the problem with only banning it at Target is they will be loosing a large number of customers. It would have been wiser from a retailer perspective to do like a collaboration with the competitive stores to make it equal and Effective .

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