Battlefield 3 sold 5 million copies after being on shelves for a single week. However, while it may have been a big seller in the West, parts of the Middle East aren't quite as happy with the release.
An AFP report on the Lebanon Daily Star site says that DICE's military shooter has been banned in Iran. Although EA has no authorized local resellers in the country, pirated PC games are the norm in the region, and government officials have reportedly "raided (some shops) and arrested owners for selling the game secretly."
Battlefield 3 features a range of scenarios in various real-world locales, one of them being an urban Iranian setting featuring the historic Grand Bazaar. Local newspaper Asr-e Ertebat reports that an unnamed deputy with the security and intelligence division of Iran's police said, "All computer stores are prohibited from selling this illegal game."
As reported by the Fars news agency, a group of "Iranian youths" have collected more than 5,000 signatures in an online petition to protest Battlefield 3. "We understand that the story of a videogame is hypothetical … (but) we believe the game is purposely released at a time when the US is pushing the international community into fearing Iran," the petition purportedly reads.
Violence and perceived promotion of criminal acts are oft-cited reasons for game bannings, but geopolitical concerns causing outcry over games is a comparatively rare occurrence. In 2006, Mercenaries 2 caused some controversy in Venezuela for its depiction of a "power hungry tyrant" as the head of the country and the game's main antagonist. Two years earlier, Ghost Recon 2 was banned in South Korea for a plotline with a war-torn Korean peninsula that went "way too far." (That ban was lifted in 2006.)
[UPDATE]: An Electronic Arts representative commented on the matter for GameSpot, saying, "In that Battlefield 3 is not available for purchase in Iran, we can only hope the ban will help prevent pirated copies reaching consumers there."