It looks like The Last of Us Part II may have been banned in the Middle East. The game doesn't have any official PlayStation Store listings in several Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
According to an email exchange between Reddit user Ghostechful and a PlayStation Support employee, if a game doesn't have a listing on the Store, it's because the game is "banned by the competent authorities of the country". That means the lack of a Store entry for The Last of Us Part II in those Middle Eastern territories indicates it won't be getting an official release there.
So why has The Last of Us Part II been banned in the Middle East?
The ESRB rating for The Last of Us Part II indicates that the game will feature nudity and sexual content. In many territories throughout the Middle East, that's often grounds for an outright ban. Given that the game will likely feature LGBT+ themes - its central character, Ellie, was written as a gay character - its ban was almost inevitable in territories that severely restrict the rights of LGBT+ folks.
If you do live in the Middle East and you want to play The Last of Us Part II, you can still do so. There will be plenty of opportunities to buy a physical import copy from third-party stores. You can also simply set up a UK or US PlayStation Store account and buy PlayStation Store credit towards the game. It's not ideal, but it's probably the only way you can experience the game if you live in that region, as it's very unlikely to be localized any time soon.
We'll learn more about The Last of Us Part II when Sony holds its State of Play presentation dedicated to the game tomorrow. If you want to tune in, you can do so via Twitch or YouTube. The presentation kicks off at 4 pm EST (that's 1 pm PT). Could be that we learn a little more about exactly what content got the game banned in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, although the chances are we already know. The Last of Us Part II launches for PlayStation 4 on June 19th.
How do you feel about The Last of Us Part II being banned in the Middle East? Let us know in the comments below!