Popular PC storefront Steam is inaccessible in Malaysia following its government blocking the service. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has blocked Steam for users in the country following the discovery of Fight of Gods - a fighting game where the likes of Buddha and Jesus square off against each other in hand-to-hand combat.
It features deities like Odin, Amaterasu, and Moses. The recent additions of Gautama Buddha and Jesus that have caught the attention of Malaysian religious bodies.
Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism deputy president Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan said the game degrades religions and their religious leaders.
“This is a very sensitive issue, and it is totally not acceptable. We can never agree to such games. The government must take immediate action to ban the game’s sale here,” he said.
“It is also unhealthy for children as they may idolise certain characters in the game they deem them to be more powerful due to the number of victories they score with that character.”
Fight of Gods is being developed by Taiwanese developer Digital Crafter who is currently soliciting feedback from the Steam community as to which gods to add to its roster in future updates. At the moment, barring Buddha - who is seen as an avatar of Lord Vishnu in Hinduism, no gods from Hinduism are in the game at the moment.
“Your prayers have been answered! For the first time ever, gods, holy spirits and mythological characters from around the globe and throughout history will clash in an explosive 2D fighter where the entire world is at stake,” the game’s description reads on Steam.
For its part, the MCMC had requested Valve - the company behind Steam, to disable access to Fight of Gods for Malaysian users prior to blocking it altogether.
“Failing which, further action will be taken,” said Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak, Communications and Multimedia Minister said in a statement on Thursday, referring to Fight of Gods.
“It is in the public interest to ensure that immediate steps are taken so that such contents do not continue to harm others,” he said.
Fight of Gods' publisher, PQube, issued the following statement:
"Fight of Gods is a video game that takes a humorous approach to religion in the same way that other entertainment formats have – across television, film, books and theatre.
The game is not promoting any religious agenda and is not designed to offend. The description of the game on the digital platforms through which it is distributed provide clear guidance on the nature of the game and its content so that people can freely choose whether or not to play it. We fully respect the choice of those who would not wish to play it.
We are disappointed that such freedom of choice is not given to everyone and in particular that the game has been forcibly removed from sale in Malaysia, although no direct communication has been received by us as to the reasons for this. Nevertheless we respect any rules and censorship imposed in any given territory.
We have reached out to Steam and are working with them to resolve the situation as soon as possible."
Nonetheless, we won't be surprised to see the fear of Fight of Gods being removed from Steam drive sales for the game.
This could set an interesting precedent for Valve. With governments paying closer attention to digital goods and services, it may be subject to greater restrictions and censorship going forward.