Target and KMart have recently removed Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) from their shelves in response to a petition against violent video games. This decision is being cast in some circles as censorship, in others notably this post on wixxyleaks.com as a moral decision[1].

It is neither.

This is just another business decision like any other.

On Censorship

When I came home today I diverted slightly to walk through the Tuggeranong Hyperdome[2]. I had a theory that there were at least three stores in the Hyperdome that would still be selling GTAV.

I was right, and it took me less than 5 minutes to not only prove it[3] but get verbal confirmation from staff in two of those stores that it wouldn’t be removed.

It is still legal to sell GTAV in Australia. The only legal restriction[4] is complying with the R18+ classification[5] by not selling it to minors.

So much for censorship.

Morality vs Money

So did Target and KMart remove GTAV as a moral decision?

In my opinion? BWAHAHAHAHHAHAHA! Cough. Splutter. Hack.[6]

Before we proceed answer this one question poll:

If, like me, you answered that games are a smaller part of Target’s business than men’s underwear you’re most of the way to the reason for the decision.

Retaining GTAV risked angering Target’s customers for a huge range of products over one single product that isn’t even all that important to Target.

Ditching it on the other hand protects the customer base for hundreds, if not thousands, of other products.

Conversely, GTAV is a core piece of the business of the retailers that still stock it. If those retailers remove it they risk offending their core demographic.

So, as I expected, the entertainment shops are still stocking GTAV and will continue to do so. They may even use it to drum up more business, and more power to them if they can manage it.

I really don’t see anything more in this than the free market at work.

Where do I stand on this?

I’m not much of a computer gamer, and what I’ve seen of GTAV is basically revolting. Even if I was a gamer I wouldn’t be buying it, but I have no problems with it being available so long as the classification laws are respected.

That’s the case so far as I can tell, so anything else is purely up to individual vendors.

A business decision.

No more. No less.

I will admit that the counter petition to get Target to remove the bible was pretty funny. As was their response.

[1] Hat tip to @prestontowers for alerting me to this post.

[2] Possibly the dumbest name for a mall ever. Certainly the dumbest in Canberra (which admittedly isn’t saying much).

[3] Game Traders, EB Games, JB Hi-Fi. There might be 2nd hand dealer as well.

[4] i.e. the only part that could qualify as censorship.

[5] I don’t know if GTAV was partially censored to achieve the R18+ classification. It might have been, it might not have been.

[6] This has been your obligatory El Hazard reference for this post.