Walmart pulls violent video game displays from its US stores

The company will also stop playing violent movies and shows on its TV screens in stores, but will continue to sell guns.

    Retail giant Walmart is under pressure to curb its offerings of firearms after two deadly mass shootings in the United States that left 31 people dead [Jose Cabezas/Reuters]
    Retail giant Walmart is under pressure to curb its offerings of firearms after two deadly mass shootings in the United States that left 31 people dead [Jose Cabezas/Reuters]

    Walmart Inc said on Friday that it has asked employees at its stores in the United States to take down signs and playable demos of violent video games. But it made no changes to its policy on selling firearms.

    In an internal memo, Walmart also asked its employees to turn off hunting season videos immediately instead of continuing to show them in the sporting goods section where guns are sold.

    Walmart, the largest US arms retailer, has been under pressure to change its policies on gun sales. It said it took the action following the death of 31 people in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. One of the shootings took place in a Walmart store.

    Meanwhile, a petition started by a junior Walmart worker in California to protest the retailer's sale of firearms has gathered more than 50,000 signatures. It will be sent to Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon on Friday.

    Thomas Marshall, an employee in San Bruno, California who began the petition, told Reuters that the decision to remove signage and displays of violent video games is good, but not enough.

    "They said they will be thoughtful and careful about their response, so we are respectful of that... But I disagree with violent video games and signage being the cause of what we are seeing in the United States," Marshall said.

    "They need to take some concrete step with the weapons they sell in their stores."

    Walmart's steps are insufficient for many critics, including US Congress Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted on Friday that the retailer should "do the right thing - stop selling guns".

    The company told Reuters it has not changed its policies on the sales of firearms and violent video games in its stores. It ended the sale of assault rifles in 2015, and also raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21 in 2018, bowing to years of public pressure.

    Media reports said Walt Disney co-owned networks ESPN and ABC have decided to delay the broadcast of an esports tournament of battle royale game Apex Legends following the shootings.

    Disney and its networks did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

    Shares of video game makers Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive Software and Activision Blizzard fell between 2.9 percent and 3.8 percent amid a broader selloff on Wall Street on Friday.

    The stocks had tumbled on Monday after US President Donald Trump, in response to the mass shootings, called for an end to the glorification of violence and blamed "gruesome and grisly video games" for that.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency