A discovery that attacking a female character in a video game leads to the player being shown a explicit depiction of her genitalia has prompted an apology from the title’s creator.
Ubisoft says it intends to release an updated version of Watch Dogs 2 later this week to remove the imagery.
The apparent mistake was discovered by a UK-based gamer who obtained a copy of the title ahead of its release date.
He was briefly punished for bringing the matter to others’ attention.
The player – who has only revealed his first name is Adam – explained what had happened on the Neogaf forum.
“On Sunday evening, I accidentally blew up a few women in a back alley with a gas pipe and then I saw ‘it’, someone at Ubisoft had rendered a full vagina on one (or maybe more) of the females in the game.
“I took a picture of this funny oversight with the in-game camera and shared it on Twitter for my friends to see, and I posted it in one of the Watch Dogs early release threads on here.
“Cut to tonight where I can’t access any services while playing the game, and then when I tried to sign in there was a very brief message about my account being suspended.”
Adam was later contacted by Sony, which told him it had blocked him from its PlayStation Network for a month, because sharing content of an adult or sexual nature from its consoles was against its rules.
However, following criticism from other players, Sony later said the email had been sent “incorrectly” and Adam’s account had been unblocked, although it continued to insist he was in breach of its terms of service.
Ubisoft has not given an explanation about why the woman was modelled in this way.
But it may be linked to the fact other in-game characters’ genitals are deliberately depicted, including a small group of naturists and men seen urinating against a wall.
Watch Dogs 2 has been given a mature rating by the US’s Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which warns that it contains nudity.
But a deliberate decision to connect violence and nudity could have caused the rating to be raised to Adults Only.
“We’re aware that one of the NPC [non player character] models in Watch Dogs 2 is rendered in a way that is particularly explicit,” said a spokeswoman for Ubisoft.
“While Watch Dogs 2 is a mature-rated game, we apologise and will update this NPC model to make it more consistent with other NPC models in the game in a patch to be released this week.
“We also are working with our first-party partners to ensure that players can continue to play and share all content from the game within the bounds of the first parties’ respective codes of conduct.”
Another open world game – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – had its rating raised in 2005 when it was discovered that explicit sex scenes had been hidden inside the title.
But one games journalist said the latest example was less clear cut.
“On a personal level, I have mixed feelings about it,” said Jen Simpkins, games editor at the Official PlayStation Magazine UK.
“It makes you reel back as a woman and think why specifically would it be attacked women NPCs affected, although I don’t know if it might affect some attacked male characters as well.
“On the other hand, there’s a huge taboo over genitalia and there’s an argument to be made that it’s not that big a deal.”