Watch Dogs Re-Classified As R18+ Due To Newly Added Scenes Featuring Sexual Violence

Watch Dogs Re-Classified As R18+ Due To Newly Added Scenes Featuring Sexual Violence

After initially receiving an MA15+ classification in September 2013, Ubisoft had Watch Dogs re-classified by the Australian Classification Board. After consideration the Board decided to bump Watch Dogs’ classification to R18+. We can now reveal the reasons for this decision.

According to the report, implied sexual violence was the reason for the R18+ classification.

“The game contains references to sexual violence that cannot be accommodated in the MA15+ classification category, which states that “sexual violence, implied or otherwise, is not permitted”,” the report reads.

The report makes specific reference to one scene dealing with human trafficking. One character inspects the women, feeling her breasts and “spreading her legs” before pulling a nearby character into a room, where the presumption is — as shown by a later scene — that she is then sexually abused.

“The room is set up with video cameras and filming equipment and as the male moves away from the bed several blood spots are visible on the bed sheets,” states the report. “On-screen text identifies the woman as a nineteen year old, Romanian immigrant.”

After attempting to obtain a copy of the report earlier last week, we were informed that Ubisoft had asked the Classification Board to refrain from releasing it until 17 March for “commercial reasons”.

The Board’s report makes specific reference to new, previously unseen elements in the game.

“A version of this computer game has been previously classified MA15+ (with consumer advice of strong themes and violence, gaming experience ay change online) on September 13th 2013,” the report states. “In the board’s opinion the modifications to this game contain classifiable elements that alter this classification and exceed a strong impact level.”

Ubisoft confirmed to Kotaku that these new elements were added after the delay.

“The entire development team has been working hard to polish and fine tune Watch Dogs in order to deliver a truly memorable open world game,” explained Ubisoft. “In parallel, the extra time also allowed the team to include a bit of additional content. As per Australian classification guidelines, Ubisoft resubmitted the updated version with the added content to the Australian Classification Board (ACB). The decision to amend the rating of the game from MA15+ to R18+ was made by the ACB.”


    • Yep, if it wasn’t for R18+ we would no doubt have seen this get RC’d the second time. Definitely a big win for us and a big loss for the 15-18 year old audience that have parents not willing to buy them 18+ games……… Oh who am I kidding, of course the parents will still buy it. *sigh*

        • GTAV only had a bit of torture… haha
          What about COD MW2… with the whole airport massacre thing.. cant believe it was MA15+.. shows what a promise of silly amounts of tax will do for a games rating…

          • Don’t forget that was before they introduced the R 18+ rating in Australia though…

          • yeah i know. I just think if that game was released today it would get R18+.. and had it not been a call of duty title, it wouldve been banned way back then…

          • You do remember that the “massacare” in Mw2 was not interactive unless you wanted to shoot so you could walk through and not kill anyone (therefore the scene is akin to a movie – how many terrorist movies are there rated MA?) and it was also entirely possible to skip that mission before even starting the campaign by selecting to not include it. There were also no incentives for completing the mission or killing the civilians like a mission score or trophies/achievements. This is what got it the MA15+ rating.

          • Fine I lied, I never played any after the original COD. But going by all the controversy I had heard I assumed only Americans would bitch so much about being murdered in a video game.

          • they could have had a “skip mission” option in the game, like the airport mission in Call of Duty: Modern warfare 2, now i can’t get the game, i could’ve if it was MA15+ because i am 15

          • I know right, I was planning to get the game for my 15th but guess what ubisoft thought It would be a good idea to add sexual violence! Really wish they had a skip mission option or censor option :/

          • I was saving and waiting all year for this game but then it was put up to R18+ so I can no longer purchase It 🙁

          • I know how annoying I was so looking forward to this game the. They go ahead and add the scence why ubisoft why

          • You being 15 and on this forum doesnt add up. Shouldnt you be screaming “GET N0 SK0PED” Like the other 15 yr olds? (Faith in youth being restored)

    • Not that it would’ve mattered if it got banned over here. Anyone who wanted it would have got it. I know I would’ve just got it digitally on the USA psn. Same deal with them censoring South Park everyone I know who bought it just got it from the USA.

    • i think the Australia classification board is being too hard on new games i mean come on look at god of war gore sex yet MA. seriously australia

  • So that’s why it was delayed, huh? Adding in unnecessary “sexual violence” scenes. 😛

        • Those aren’t the same thing.

          I actually joined the research panel but I haven’t been available for the ONE study they’ve held so far. Hopefully that won’t exclude me from future opportunities, because I’d love to participate.

        • I was just joking that Ubisoft delayed the game due to a degenerate group of focus testers demanding more unnecessary sexual violence in all their feedback.

          I think people may be misreading @strange’s comment to be way more serious than it was or a dig at the ratings board. Either that or I’m completely misreading his comment to be a joke about the Watchdog’s delays being caused by adding new, sexual violence scenes, rather than actual technical problems and setbacks when actually it’s a serious comment about the state of Australian ratings. =P

      • The game was submitted for classification ahead of it’s original release date in November, so it was presumably complete. Now it’s been delayed and there’s an added scene? Maybe it’s relevant to the story to add it in, but it hardly seems necessary. It’s possible to have a story/mission about human trafficking without also adding an actual scene where a woman is groped and abused.

        Now I’m not saying they were wrong to add it – little things like this add an interesting flavour to the narrative – but it’s clearly not necessary.

        • That’s just speculation really.
          If the developers felt that the story needed more and decided to add this scene among others, we really don’t get to decide.
          They clearly decided it was necessary and the common mentality among gamers of late to comment on particulars of a process we have no contribution to, is getting a little old.

          • It was delayed because the devs were concerned the game might be a bit repetitive and needed to change it up. The delays meant they had an opportunity to add other content and this was among those things. It’s not unfair to assume that this scene might have been planned but was originally scrapped – all we know for sure is it wasn’t there before and is there now. They felt the need to add it, but that doesn’t make it a “necessary” addition. There’s no evidence for that on either side of the fence, but i’m more inclined to say it isn’t necessary because I don’t see how the game can be so fundamentally different from what we were supposed to be playing 5 months ago that the game simply couldn’t be without this scene added in.

          • You are correct, you don’t see fundamental differences and won’t ever get to see unless they released some kind of change log highlighting all the changes from then to now.
            But because there is no basis to conclude anything, comparing the assumed difference or lack of, is just speculation.

          • There’s no evidence for that on either side of the fence, but i’m more inclined to say it isn’t necessary because I don’t see how the game can be so fundamentally different from what we were supposed to be playing 5 months ago that the game simply couldn’t be without this scene added in.

            Is it just this scene, or was this new scene part of new content? The scene and the content around it could be vital to changing the overall tone of the game. It’s easy to make it to the end of a story without realising that you’ve only been displaying victimless crimes. You deal with bad people and you do bad things, but it never hits home at any point so the world still comes off as sort of light. You hack things, you kill douche bags, you sell drugs, but you walk away without seeing the damage.
            Watchdog’s story seems to runs the risk of putting too much distance between crime and responsibility to begin with. There’s a lot going on at arms length. It’s not that outrageous to think they may need things like this to make the story actually come out as a serious story rather than just another power trip fantasy. Wouldn’t that be funny. A game including sexual violence specifically to prevent the game from being the sort of retarded criminal power trip fantasy that the ratings board assumes all sexual violence in games is.

            Although I’ll totally agree that I can’t say that with anymore certainly than you can say it was unnecessary. Still, if one of us is right I hope it’s me. I’d like to see more serious/semi-serious games centered around crime step up and say things like ‘pimping isn’t about dressing like a cartoon character, it’s about sex slavery’.

          • I don’t think our views are diametrically opposed here. My point, and my only point, is that the game was complete before and now they believe the extra scene is warranted. I hope it’s worthwhile, I want to see games tackle more complex ideas. But why was this scene not needed before when it is apparently needed now? That’s the question that I want the answer to. I am not attempting to condemn or justify.

      • Except:

        Ubisoft confirmed to Kotaku that these new elements were added after the delay.

    • Unnecessary? Maybe.
      Better for it? Also maybe.

      If you were going to tackle some dark, dark themes around disturbingly real-world issues that are as-yet-unexplored in games (and under-exposed in movies and real life, to be honest), in my mind the implication (not depiction) is kinda necessary – to what degree? Not quite as important.

      It’s adult stuff, so definitely R18. And it’s definitely worth tackling – but it’s kind of pointless (or at least toothless and academic) to approach the subject without some implication.
      Can you imagine if the movie Taken would’ve been better or worse without all those scenes implying sexual violence, in a very similar way? If you want to incite a revenge-fueled bender of violence, human trafficking is a sure-fire way to fire up the blood and waive all restraint.

      I totally wouldn’t rule out the expansion (and/or ‘darkening’) of the narrative as part of the reason for the delay. Though it’s entirely possible the dev team sat down and said, “Congratulations, we’ve successfully made GTA5 with some gadget gimmicks and none of the humour, a year late,” and went looking for some shock value to separate it, I suspect it’s probably more than that.

      • Have to agree with you there it definitely works to get the blood boiling. With each sentence I read about that scene the more I looked forward to killing the people behind it…slowly

        • Amen to that, I too have been thinking about killing them nice and slowly with an scalpel…

  • Fair enough. At least we have a rating system that accommodates that kind of content now.

    • I disagree; this is not why we have/need R18+ … This is a gratuitous ‘bolt on’ designed to generate controversy/hype. It wasn’t in the ‘complete’ version – ergo, It’s not fundamental to The plot. I firmly believe that R18 allows for games where violence or serial violence is necessary … This doesn’t seem to be, and it reeks of marketing to me.

  • What constitutes “necessary” is entirely up to the developers. They need not justify the content of the game to anyone! The game was given an R rating, it is for adults only and that’s that. Oh and until its actually released; no one is in a position to judge an out of context scene.

    That is all.

  • That sounds a little unnecessary to be honest. I mean, surely we could have achieved the same story line points by doing things slightly differently. I hope the R18 doesn’t affect sales too much.

    • Honestly R18+ doesnt mean much for sales, when I was 15-17 I was always able to get 18+ DVDs and most retail staff (particularly at JB) never bat an eyelid.

    • r18 didnt stop children from nagging their parents for GTA 5, it should be fine .

    • I’ve always wondered about that, because you constantly hear things from interviews where people have said “Oh we got R18+ and we knew it would affect sales” (granted, from my memory all of those interviews have been about movies AND about the U.S.A. market).

      Has anybody actually got proof that the higher the rating, the more that sales are affected?
      Because from what I can tell, this is a complex video game, so it’s not like people will mistakenly pick it up for the 8 year old (I hope)…

  • Ubisoft: gize… hai gize… lets delay our game
    Dev: Why?!
    Ubisoft: rape…


    whoo new content!!!!… hmm. and what was the point of waiting till today to let people know?

    Happy St. Pat’s Day! Now GO CELEBRATE!

  • I’m shocked that they are actually using the classification and not just denying a classification like they usually do

    • Wouldn’t version modified refer to the fact that Ubifsoft modified what was originally submitted to classification? The game is now a modified version of watch_dogs, with added sexual assault.

      • Yes, because the new version of the game was re-submitted and re-classified it would say version: modified. The game was originally rate MA15+ before Ubisoft delayed it, they polished it and added more scenes and missions (maybe)…and now it’s R18+

        You know what…It’s good that its rated R18+…but it won’t stop parents buying it for their whinging kids because they were told it wasn’t a bad game (this was the reason I heard when a mother brought GTA V for their 8 year old son)

  • This R 18+ version could still have been rated MA 15+ under the old system which didn’t have R 18+. If you google “guidelines for the classification of films and computer games” , that is the old system.. you’ll see that one of the things listed in MA 15+ (strong impact) is “Sexual violence may be implied, if justified by context”. The current system is “guidelines for the classification of computer games 2012” for the record. So the argument that the R 18+ version of Watch_Dogs would have been banned before R 18+ was introduced is nonsense. We’ll never know if it would’ve been banned or not, but I’m guessing not. Maybe, possibly banned for violence. As has been said it’s apparently “references to sexual violence” in this R 18+ version of Watch_Dogs.
    In the current guidelines it says, under R 18+ : “Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.”
    In all lower ratings it says : “Sexual violence, implied or otherwise, is not permitted.”

  • Meh. I’m 13, but I’m gonna get this anyway. Honestly, my parents don’t care what I buy as long as they don’t pay for it. 😛

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