[Update: John Simley from Walmart media relations contacted Joystiq to clear up the ciircumstances behind the Bully pre-order situation. Simley said that Wal-mart policy is to not carry any unrated or Rating Pending games for pre-order or sale, in-store or online. This decision was made recently, Simley said, but just reflected on the web site starting this week, hence the pulling of Bully pre-orders. The policy is in response to consumer's concerns, Simley said, and had nothing to do with any letters or lawsuits from Jack Thompson.]
UK news site The Register is reporting that Wal-Mart has stopped taking pre-orders for the controversial game Bully after a lawsuit filed by Jack Thompson in Florida circuit court named the retailer as a defendant. Thompson targeted the big box store for "recklessly pre-selling Bully to children with no age rating having even been affixed to the game."
Though Wal-mart wouldn't confirm to The Register that the halt was in response to the complaint, the timing is certainly suspect (we're still waiting for a response to a request for comment from Walmart). Thompson has also reportedly sent letters to Amazon and Toys R Us requesting they stop taking pre-orders for the game.
Thompson's argued that pre-selling Bully to children is "akin to a pharmaceutical company selling a new and controversial drug without prior FDA approval." This seems a little ridiculous to us -- assuming the game is rated M before its release (a relatively safe assumption), any store that took pre-orders could simply refund the money and refuse to give the game to any unaccompanied child that comes to pick it up. Preventing the 83 percent of console game purchasers that are adults from reserving a game just because children may try to get it seems to us like too draconian a response.