The upcoming South Park RPG will be uncensored in all global territories, GamesIndustry.biz can reveal.
The Fractured But Whole grabbed headlines yesterday as it passed the famously strict Australian ratings board with an R18+ rating and no content censored or cut - something its predecessor, The Stick of Truth, was unable to accomplish.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz this morning, associate producer Kimberly Weigend confirmed that this will apply to all regions.
"When we submitted to the age ratings boards, we didn't know what was going to happen, but we're really happy to report that they're letting everything through for all the countries so every country that plays this game is going to get the same experience," she told us.
The implication is that perhaps the new game is tamer in its humour than the previous outing, but Weigend assures us that this is not the case.
"We really didn't hold anything back with The Fractured But Whole," she says. "We worked very closely with Matt and Trey to tell their story - and they obviously don't hold back as well."
The Stick of Truth had to be censored in multiple markets around the world, including Australia, Germany and Austria, due to controversial content such as anal probing and a scene in which the player performs an abortion on a man. If the superhero-themed sequel is just as daring with its humour, is this a sign that ratings boards are becoming softer on these types of games? Wiegend is unsure.
"It could be a changing of the times, that they're more open to ideas," she says. "Maybe they saw the reception to the first game... We're honestly not entirely sure why, but we're very happy that everyone's going to get the same experience because that was such a big bummer for the first game, that there were certain things we couldn't show in some countries."
Even the uncensored content in The Stick of Truth caused upset for some people, although no more than any given season of the long-running animated series. Weigend stresses that neither the development team, nor the show's creators, are flippant about the topics the game covers.
"Something to keep in mind about Matt, Trey and the South Park crew is they don't ever really do anything for the sake of it," she says. "That's so clear in so many of their interactions with people, and their ideas. They'll go back and forth on their own ideas, going 'well, this is funny, but it's not funny enough, it doesn't really make sense'. They're very purposeful with their jokes."
Both The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole contain humour and content that is similar to the TV show. While it's fortunate that the latter will be released unscathed, why is it the original prompted such censorship when its source material does not?
"It's probably because the games industry is still relatively new," Weigend surmises. "TV has been around a lot longer, it's been able to adjust and grow with the times, adjusting their age ratings accordingly. Maybe games are finally starting to get to that point.
"Also, games are an interactive medium so there are more considerations to take into account with that. It's still new and [the ratings boards] are still growing with us."
South Park: The Fractured But Whole releases on October 17th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC. We'll have more from our interview with Weigend in the coming weeks.