One of the main selling points of the gameplay in Ubisoft’s upcoming open-world action game Watch Dogs is the ability to use hacking as a weapon instead of just shooting any and all aggressors. Protagonist Aiden Pearce still carries a gun, of course, but it’s nice to have options.
The game isn’t without its mature content, however, and in the time between the original planned release in November 2013 and the revised release date of May 27, 2014, the Australian Classification Board has reclassified Watch Dogs from an MA15+ rating to an R18+ certificate, due to new content that includes sexual violence.
Based on the report by Kotaku Australia, it sounds like the sexual violence is largely implied rather than shown and the aggressor is a non-player character, which is probably why it escaped censorship or even an outright ban. The scene takes place in a room filled with video cameras and filming equipment. There is a character on the bed described in on-screen text as a 19 year-old Romanian immigrant, and blood stains are visible on the sheets. A male character “inspects” her by feeling her breasts and spreading her legs, before pulling another character into the room. A later scene confirms that she was further sexually abused.
It does seem odd that such a scene would be added to the game at such a late stage, but the human trafficking storyline has been part of the game for a while, and was even featured in a cinematic trailer for Watch Dogs. Portrayals of sexual violence in games are generally treated with greater wariness than is usually applied to films or books – understandably, given the medium’s less-than-stellar reputation for portrayals of women – but without seeing this particular scene in context it’s impossible to judge how well the studio has handled the sensitive subject matter.
Ubisoft has also issued a statement confirming the decision by the ACB, adding that the additional time offered by the delayed release allowed the studio to “polish and fine tune” Watch Dogs as well as ” include a bit of additional content.” Creative director Jonathan Morin recently said that the game’s original reveal at E3 2012 was far earlier than he would have preferred, and it’s likely that the November 2013 release date was another example of Ubisoft higher-ups trying to force the game out before it was ready.
At least it sounds like Watch Dogs will have a lot to offer when it finally arrives this summer. When asked about how much content is available in the game, Morin replied on Twitter that the main story campaign takes about 35-40 hours to complete, but “doing everything” will take about 100 hours. Morin added that there’s potentially even more gameplay available when taking online play into consideration.
Tell us in the comments what you think about this last-minute addition to the game’s content, and what you expect to see from Watch Dogs after the extra six months of development time.
Watch Dogs releases May 27 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The Wii U version currently does not have a release date.