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.