Wal-Mart denies Bully's removal from its website was prompted by a recent Jack Thompson lawsuit; company rep tells the Escapist News Room that all unrated games will eventually be pulled.
Last Wednesday, Wal-Mart pulled the upcoming PlayStation 2 game Bully from its retail website, where it had been available for pre-order sales. The game's removal occurred several hours after Florida attorney Jack Thompson filed a petition in Miami-Dade County that names Wal-Mart as a respondent in a pending lawsuit.
GamePolitics reported that Thompson, whose filing alleges that Bully will promote school violence, claimed the game's removal from the site was a "huge initial victory." On Thursday, however, John Simley with Wal-Mart media relations advised Joystiq and Kotaku that the removal was unrelated to Thompson's lawsuit. Instead, Simley explained, Bully's newfound absence from the site was the result of a recent company decision not to list unrated games for pre-order.
The Escapist News Room contacted John Simley for further comment. Simley said that Wal-Mart's decision to remove unrated games from the site has been the subject of discussion for several weeks and was initially prompted by customer input. "Several 'Jack Thompsons' brought the matter to our attention," he said, but he reiterated that the new policy and Bully's removal had nothing to with Thompson's recent petition.
When asked why other unrated titles are still listed on Wal-Mart's website despite Bully's removal, Simley stated, "I really don't know." He added that the remaining unrated titles will be removed "one by one," and said "we're currently in the process of doing that." Simley cited the need to contact customers who have already pre-ordered Bully as a possible reason for the delay in the other titles' removal. He also suggested Bully could have been one of the first games to be removed because the process might be alphabetical.
Unrated titles currently still listed for pre-order at Wal-Mart's website include BioShock, Blitz: The League, Crackdown, NBA Live '07, The Sopranos, and numerous others.
Bully, which depicts a 15-year old boy's activities at a fictional U.S. boarding school, is due to be released for the PlayStation 2 this October. The title was recently demonstrated to several news outlets, including the New York Times, who described it as "whimsical." Bully developer Rockstar Games, best known as the developer of the M (Mature)-rated Grand Theft Auto titles, reportedly hopes that Bully will receive a T (Teen) rating.