South Park has a history of pushing censorship boundaries in television with its raunchy humor and satire of sensitive social and political topics. Now its legacy is extending to video games, thanks to Ubisoft’s cutting of several scenes from the cartoon’s long-awaited adaptation.
When South Park: The Stick of Truth releases in the Americas (March 4), its console versions will have two minutes of gruesome content that won’t exist in many parts of the world. That’s because Ubisoft, the publisher of the comedy role-playing game based on the long-running satirical cartoon, is eliminating two abortion minigames and five anal-probing scenes from its PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions in certain global regions.
The regions where the scenes have been cut belong to the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) market. Ubisoft has not changed the PC version for this market. Each of the censored sections is about 20 seconds long, according to documentation sent with British television, phone, and Internet provider BT‘s review copy. Stick of Truth developer Obsidian has replaced each scene with an image background and a text description chosen by the show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
The censorship is despite The Stick of Truth’s 18 age rating by PEGI, the pan-European video game rating organization. Some countries have their own rating and censoring programs, which override PEGI’s decisions. One of these is Germany, whose USK ratings program is known to be especially strict on obscene content. European video game news provider Eurogamer speculated that Ubisoft’s self-censorship may be an attempt to secure a German release.
GamesBeat reached out to Ubisoft and Comedy Central for comments, but neither responded. Ubisoft told Eurogamer that the censorship “was a market decision.”
BT reported in December that scenes from The Stick of Truth were censored in Australia, resulting in their replacement by vivid written descriptions of what players would have seen, along with the image of a crying koala and the word “censored” in large text.