The Malaysian government temporarily blocked access to Steam across in the country in response to a new indie fighting game that pits various deities and religious figures against each other including Jesus, Buddha, Zeus, Moses, Athena and Odin. The 2D brawler, made by indie Taiwanese developer Digital Crafter and UK publisher PQube, features eight gods on its fighting roster and promises to add more to the list soon.
"Your prayers have been answered!" the game's description reads. "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! Who will emerge victorious from the most destructive combat tournament the universe has ever witnessed."
With environments ranging from Mount Olympus to the Garden of Eden, the game features Jesus equipped with splintered parts of his cross, still nailed to his wrists, to pound enemies and evoke a rapture as his special move. Moses, on the other hand, can slam the 10 Commandments into his opponent and drown them with a parting of the sea special move.
The game's trailer (embedded below) also has quite a few puns such as "The son of God is back, and he's cross."
The Street Fighter-style game, currently in Early Access, immediately drew fierce criticism and concerns from religious leaders in Malaysia arguing it posed a "huge threat" to racial unity and harmony and could trigger religious tensions.
"Malaysians respect all cultural and religious sensitivities, and the sale and distribution of the religiously insensitive and blasphemous games must be stopped immediately," government officials told Malaysian newspaper The Star.
Gamers in Malaysia who noticed the ban took to social media and NeoGaf claiming they have been completely blocked from accessing Steam by internet service providers.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission had reportedly requested Steam to geoblock users in Malaysia from buying the game within 24 hours or face further action. However, Steam failed to do so immediately and the MCMC blocked the entire Steam domain.
Authorities said the game violated local laws and that the ban was "necessary to protect the users and to prevent untoward incidents".
"MCMC is committed to protect the interest of consumers in Malaysia, and will not compromise with any action that can jeopardise the sanctity of religion and inter-racial harmony in the country," the agency said in a statement. "MCMC also wants to remind users to be more cautious and use their discretion when selecting content to access."
Valve confirmed the ban in a statement to Kotaku and said they have contacted the developer, removed Fight of Gods and are "attempting to make contact with officials to remove the block".
Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak tweeted that the block will be lifted shortly.
PQube and Digital Crafter said in a statement that they never received any communication from Malaysian officials.
"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 two said in a statement. "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 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," it continued. "Nevertheless we respect any rules and censorship imposed in any given territory."
The companies said they have reached out to Steam regarding the ban and are working to resolve the issue.