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Spider-Man 2 on Playstation 5 Removes LGBT References for Saudi Arabian Release

Jack Hadfield

The Saudi Arabian release for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on Playstation 5 has completely censored all references to the LGBT community made in the western version of the game, even removing Pride and “gender spectrum” flags.

The game, a Sony exclusive, is a sequel to the smash hit released in 2018 where players can swing around New York City as Peter Parker, or as Miles Morales, an alternate Spider-Man. The highly-anticipated game saw blockbuster sales immediately upon release, with Sony reporting that over 2.5 million copies were sold within the first 24 hours it was available.

Like the original game, Spider-Man 2 included nods to leftist politics and features LGBT Pride flags across the playable area. In the latest game, dialogue mentioning LGBT identities, and side missions that reference gender identity and “queer” sexualities are also included.

However, progressive-minded players were shocked to discover that the game had been altered for its release in Saudi Arabia, which removed all references to LGBT topics.

But the Saudi Arabian government’s video games regulator confirmed in a post in late September that such changes were on the way, issuing a statement that Spider-Man 2 would be available for players 16 years old and above after game developers agreed to the “modifications required” by the authority. 

Various other games and media have been censored in the country for including LGBT content, including Grand Theft Auto V, and The Last of Us Part II. Most notably, the recent Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse film, was banned completely for featuring a transgender pride flag in a background shot.

While Saudi Arabia’s censorship measures are currently gaining attention on social media, players in Latin America are noticing very different changes to the game made for its Spanish-language release.

Streamers are calling attention to the use of “inclusive vocabulary” otherwise not used in the Spanish language. This has involved changing the grammatical endings of masculine or feminine gendered nouns to a different letter in a similar fashion to the recent adoption of “Latinx” as a non-standard alternative to “Latino” and “Latina.”

This is not the first time a Spider-Man video game has become the subject of widespread controversy surrounding its overtly pro-LGBT stance.

Last year, Nexus Mods, one of the largest platforms for hosting video game modifications, removed a community-generated mod that replaced all appearances of the LGBT flag with the American flag in the remaster of the 2018 game.

The Stars and Stripes were reportedly seen only around “eight times” in the game, and when “appropriate, including the line of flags outside the UN building,” according to Pink News and Games Radar. By contrast, the Pride flag was seen “everywhere.”

In response to backlash over the banning of the mod, Nexus Mods released a statement on the incident, defensively telling those opposed to their decision to delete their accounts.

“In regards to the replacement of Pride flags in this game, or any game, our policy is thus: we are for inclusivity, we are for diversity,” they wrote in their statement. “If we think someone is uploading a mod on our site with the intent to deliberately be against inclusivity and/or diversity then we will take action against it. The same goes for people attempting to troll other users with mods deliberately to cause a rise. For our part, we will endeavor to do a better job of moderating our website to this ethos ourselves.”

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Jack Hadfield

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