Walmart Removes Violent Video Game, Movie Advertisements From Retail Stores

An internal notice urges employees to remove depictions of "violence" and "aggression" from stores, specifically those found in video games and movies.

An internal notice urges employees to remove depictions of "violence" and "aggression" from stores, specifically those found in video games and movies.
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Update 8/10/19:

Following two inquiries to Walmart corporate, Tara House, senior director at Walmart, responded to GameSkinny via email. She confirmed that “a memo was sent to stores regarding displays and signing.” 

She also offered the following statement: 

We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and it does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment.  We are focused on assisting our associates and their families, as well as supporting the community, as we continue a thoughtful and thorough review of our policies.

In an IGN story published yesterday and since update, there was some confusion as to whether Walmart had begun removing violent video games from store shelves. Twitter user Erik Tyler posted an image of his local Walmart allegedly showing empty video game shelves. 

Since the publication of the original IGN story, a Walmart representative contacted IGN and “apologized for what was apparently a miscommunication on their behalf. We have since clarified with the aforementioned Walmart representative that the company has “not given any directive to remove video games from the shelves.”

House echoed the statement. She said, “in terms of removal of video games, no such direction was given.”

Visiting a local Walmart in the Atlanta area, the electronics department looked similar to what it always has. Violent games such as Resident Evil 2, Grand Theft Auto 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Hitman 2 were clearly displayed, with their tenders full.

There were also a few advertisements for violent movies and television shows in the stores, including Game of Thrones and Halloween 2018. However, those advertisements were not prominently displayed.  

While there, we spoke with a store associate and one of the store’s assistant managers, both of whom spoke anonymously.

The store associate said that they did not “have clearance” to comment on the matter. The assistant manager referred me to “Walmart public relations” before asking me to not ask anymore employees about the memo. They then told us that employees “were not supposed to talk about it” and that they “could get in trouble.” 

We have reached out to Walmart public relations for more information.  

Original story: 

Walmart is one of the largest retailers in the world. The company operates more than 4,700 stores across the United States, and more than 11,000 worldwide.

While some of those 4,700 U.S. locations are Neighborhood Market grocery stores, many are discount stores and supercenters that sell video games, movies, and guns.

However, the retailer is taking steps to censor two of those items at those locations. One of them isn’t guns. 

In a new report from Vice Games (via GameInformer), it appears that Walmart stores across the U.S. have begun removing promotional materials and advertisements that display violence and what the company calls “aggressive behavior.”

Materials in question include displays, posters, demo stations, and other preview stations showing violent content found anywhere in-store. 

Censored materials pertain not only to video games, but also to movies and other videos that might depict violence, such as in-store programming used during hunting season. 

According to anonymous sources that spoke with Vice Games, Walmart recently released an internal memo informing employees of the change. Some of those sources have shared the memo on Twitter and Reddit

The memo clearly cites video game demo booths, specifically those for PlayStation and Xbox. It goes so far as to ask employees to remove anything “referencing combat” and “third-person shooter video games.”

However, it does not distinctly reference first-person shooter games, or other genres or subgenres that might depict violence. It also does not define what “violent” or “aggressive” means in terms of material removal.

The move by Walmart comes after a rash of horrific shootings over the past two weeks in Southaven, Mississippi, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The first two shootings occurred at Walmart stores. 

Alongside Dick’s Sporting Goods and Fred Meyer, Walmart is one of the largest gun sellers in the United States. Although the company hasn’t sold assault-style weapons in its stores since 2015, and it now requires those purchasing guns to be 21 or older, chief executive Doug McMillon remained vague on potential changes to its policies surrounding guns sales in a recent social media post.  

Following the shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Donald Trump and several other politicians placed part of the blame on video games. Trump said: 

We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.

We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately. Cultural change is hard, but each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of human life. That’s what we have to do. 

Trump did not provide specific plans for the evaluation of video games or if such an evaluation would ultimately come. 

Of course, no definitive connection has been made between either video games and violence or movies and violence. 

About the author

Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore is the Editor-in-Chief of GameSkinny and has been writing about games since 2010. With over 1,200 published articles, he's written about almost every genre, from city builders and ARPGs to third-person shooters and sports titles. While patiently awaiting anything Dino Crisis, he consumes all things Star Wars. He has a BFA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing focused on games writing and narrative design. He's previously been a newspaper copy editor, ad writer, and book editor. In his spare time, he enjoys playing music, watching football, and walking his three dogs. He lives on Earth and believes in aliens, thanks to Fox Mulder.