Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has confirmed that off-road racer MotorStorm: Apocalypse has been delayed due to sensitivities over the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
The fourth entry in the PlayStation-exclusive series is set in an unnamed American city, although one clearly based on San Francisco. The story revolves around a series of earthquakes and destruction, which the game's characters use as the background for their races.
A statement sent to GamesIndustry.biz by SCE Europe states that, "We are shocked and saddened to see the impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and our thoughts are with all those affected, including our colleagues within the Sony family, living and working throughout Japan.
We are very conscious of the parallels between these events and the underlying theme in Motorstorm and are doing everything we can to be as sensitive as possible to the situation
We are very conscious of the parallels between these events and the underlying theme in Motorstorm and are doing everything we can to be as sensitive as possible to the situation. Although the game itself is already in distribution, we are ceasing any further shipments and removing as much of the marketing materials as possible."
Commenting specifically on the situation in the UK, the company added: "Although we have shipped the game into the channel last week, given that we are able to do so, we have chosen to postpone the launch in the UK. In the meantime we will continue to monitor the situation very closely."
Earlier reports had already confirmed that the game's launch would be delayed in Japan. Sony Computer Entertainment America have yet to comment on the game's release.
Sony Corporation also announced today that it would be donating 300 million yen ($3.7 million) to help relief and recovery efforts in Japan. In common with most other Japanese publishers the company is also setting up a disaster relief fund, as well as donating 30,000 Sony radios to victims.
"In times like these, we are reminded of how important and fragile we are and of the positive impact we can have - both as individuals and, collectively, as a company - to assist those in need," said Howard Stringer, chairman, CEO and president of Sony Corporation.
"We will continue to make the utmost effort to help the swift recovery of the affected communities in the region," he added.
UPDATE: UK retailer GAME has cancelled all online pre-orders for the game and said that it is currently in the process removing prominent Motorstorm advertising.
"Following Sony's statement today, we are rapidly changing our launch plans for Motorstorm Apocalypse and are in the process of removing as much promotional material in our stores and online as possible.
However, a small amount of customers on the company's gameplay.co.uk site have had pre-orders fulfilled and will receive the game this Friday, the original launch day.
"We will continue to work closely with Sony on any further developments with this title. Our thoughts are with the people of Japan at this difficult time," added the retailer.
A spokesperson for HMV also confirmed it will not be selling the game this week to our sister site Eurogamer.net, adding: "Under the circumstances, we entirely understand Sony's concerns and we applaud them for showing sensitivity towards the current plight of the Japanese people, who are responding to this disaster with heroic dignity."