Take-Two Interactive responded Tuesday after a protest against Grand Theft Auto V led to Australian retailers Target and Kmart to pull the PlayStation and Xbox title from their store shelves, as Inquisitr reported. The publisher’s president blasted the retailer ban of GTA V as a “poor leadership decision” that “flies in the face of everything that free society’s based on.”
Karl Slatoff, President of Take-Two Interactive, made the comments at a BMO Capital Markets Technology and Digital Media conference, which were captured by GameSpot. He stated that the removal of the game from two retailers in the relatively small market of Australia will not impact the company’s business since there are plenty of other ways for people to buy GTA V.
Slatoff went on a lengthy diatribe to condemn the decision to remove GTA V from Target Australia and Kmart Australia.
“It’s one thing for a person to not want to buy a piece of content, which is completely understandable. And that’s really the solution. If you don’t like it; if it’s offensive to you, then you don’t buy it,” he said. “But for a person or a group of people to try to make that decision for millions of people… we have 34 million people who have bought Grand Theft Auto V. If these folks had their way, none of those people would be able to buy Grand Theft Auto.”
“And that really just flies in the face of everything that free society’s based on,” Slatoff added. “It’s the freedom of expression, and to try to quelch that is a very dangerous and slippery slope to go down. So it’s really more disappointing for us in that regard than it is in the context of our business. Our business is going to be completely unaffected by this. It doesn’t make a difference to us. At the end of the day, though, it’s not something that you want because it’s just a poor leadership decision.”
In a separate statement, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick voiced his displeasure with Target Australia removing GTA V.
“We are disappointed that an Australian retailer has chosen no longer to sell Grand Theft Auto V— a title that has won extraordinary critical acclaim and has been enjoyed by tens of millions of consumers around the world. Grand Theft Auto V explores mature themes and content similar to those found in many other popular and groundbreaking entertainment properties. Interactive entertainment is today’s most compelling art form and shares the same creative freedom as books, television, and movies. I stand behind our products, the people who create them, and the consumers who play them.”
The retailer ban came after a Change.org petition decrying violence against women in the game drove the decision by both Target Australia and Kmart Australia parent company, Wesfarmers Group. The petition called GTA V “misogynistic” and claimed that it made “a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women.”
Not mentioned in the petition is that GTA V also features plenty of violence against non-female characters as well, as seen in the image above. It also amusingly states that players get “health points” as an incentive to “commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them.” That actually does not happen in the game.
What do you think of the decision to pull GTA V from store shelves by these two Australian retailers and Take-Two’s response? Sound off in the comments below.