When Bohemia Interactive’s ArmA III hits store shelves early next year you’ll be able to pop on down to your local electronics retailer and pick up a copy, assuming you don’t live in Iran. According to a report by Azerbaijani news site Trend, the military sandbox game has been banned in the Middle Eastern country due to its portrayal of Iranian forces; specifically that they would violently oppose NATO.
The storyline for ArmA III takes place in the year 2035, and sees NATO forces occupying Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. While players can choose to play as any faction within the game, the NATO troops are tasked with fighting off an invading group of Iranian Armed Forces soldiers, and it is this plot point that Iranian officials see as problematic.
Iran’s National Foundation of Computer Games has agreed to ban sales and imports of the game and has issued a statement calling for all applicable merchants and groups to keep ArmA III from appearing in Iran.
It should be noted that this is not the first time Iranian officials have lobbied against the gaming industry. In 2011, EA’s Battlefield 3 was banned by Iran’s National Foundation of Computer Games due to an in-game scenario that tasked players with battling through Tehran’s Grand Bazaar. Despite this directive a number of stores continued to stock the game.
In a somewhat similar vein, Iranian-American Kuma/War developer Amir Mizra Hekmati was sentenced to death in Iran earlier this year for allegedly spying on the country as part of a CIA operation disguised by his video game development credentials. Iranian authorities claimed that Hekmati’s work in Iran was an effort to create propaganda videos and games to be distributed throughout the world. Thankfully as international support swelled, Hekmati’s death sentence was overturned and his life was spared.
It has been a rough month internationally for ArmA III’s developers. While scouting for locations in Greece, two developers from Bohemia Interactive, Martin Pezlar and Ivan Buchta, were jailed on suspicion of espionage. Some have claimed that the arrests were retaliatory, as sections of ArmA III are set in Greece.