Following media pressure and a lawsuit orchestrated by anti-violent game advocate Jack Thompson, major U.S. retail chain Wal-Mart has stopped allowing pre-orders for upcoming Rockstar game Bully
, due to the fact that the game has not yet been rated by the ESRB.
Thompson filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart in Florida on Wednesday, claiming: "Bully is a video game that will allow the player to rehearse violence upon his classmates and teachers in retribution for their bullying. This is the unfortunate scenario known to have occurred in violent school incidents known as “Columbine,” “Paducah,” “Jonesboro,” and many others... The Bully game will also train school-age kids how to become bullies after themselves being bullied."
When Wal-Mart removed the 'Pre-Order' button from its Bully game details page
and took it out of its search engine results on the website, Thompson sent out a media alert to multiple outlets claiming victory in the matter, and indicating that he was the sole source of the change in Wal-Mart's policy.
However, some media outlets such as weblog Kotaku have spoken to Wal-Mart
, whose spokesperson John Simley is indicating that although the chain has stopped taking pre-orders for the game it will still sell the title upon release, assuming it does not get an AO (Adults Only) rating.
In fact, according to Simley, the company’s policy on taking online pre-orders for unrated games has been under review for some time, implying that the timing in not accepting new pre-orders is merely coincidental. He also claims that physical stores have never accepted pre-orders for rating pending titles.
Referring to the demands, Simley commented to Kotaku, "I’d like to give credit to Jack Thompson, but there are a lot of Jack Thompsons out there and we are just listening to our customers.” Commenting again on the general decision to stop pre-orders for unrated games, he stated, "Bully
is a good example, but I don't know if it's a result of Bully
Nonetheless, political game action site GamePolitics points out
that "Wal-mart's website this morning... quickly turned up several such [ratings pending games] for sale, including Crackdown, Phantasy Star Universe
, and Justice League Heroes
", suggesting that Bully
and the lawsuit against Wal-Mart may have been the initial impetus for this change, or perhaps that the company has not completed its change to the website yet.