x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Video game still available in UAE despite recall

Versions of a video game, LittleBigPlanet, feared offensive to Islam can be bought in the Emirates.

ABU DHABI // Versions of a video game feared offensive to Islam can be bought in the Emirates despite a recall. Sony Gulf delayed the release of LittleBigPlanet on the Sony PlayStation 3 console to re-edit music which used Quranic verse as lyrics. However, the original version has appeared for sale on the local auction website, souq.com, before its rescheduled release next month. Tim Stokes, the spokesman for Sony Gulf, said the North American version of the children's adventure game, which carries the music, was in circulation in the Middle East.

"We're aware of US versions available on the markets and unfortunately, we don't have any control over that," he said. "But we haven't released any stock within the region. We're going to assume this is an American version that's come through the markets. The US released it a week ahead and that often happens with these games. "[It was] leaked to other parts of the world, including the Middle East, and unfortunately the product found its way to the region here."

Sony also warned that advance copies would contain the Quranic passages but that the discs could be replaced. Sellers on eBay.com have advertised the recalled copies as "banned" or a "rare collector's edition", with prices starting at up to US$249 each (Dh915). However as of yesterday, there were no bids for the two used discs advertised on souq.com. Sony began its Middle East recall of the original version earlier this month after fears were raised over Tapha Niang, a song by Malian composer and devout Muslim, Toumani Diabete.

In a statement last week, the company said: "During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks contains two expressions that can be found in the Quran. We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologise for any offence that this may have caused." An instrumental version will be used in the re-edit.

"We're clearly disappointed that we had to delay the release by a week or so," Mr Stokes said, adding that he had not received any complaints from the UAE. mkwong@thenational.ae