PEGI, the European video game rating board, says it gave South Park: The Stick of Truth an "18" rating before the anal probing scenes were cut.
You've no doubt heard that most non-North American releases of South Park: The Stick of Truth have been censored in one way or another, typically with regards to scenes involving anal probing and abortions - which you can view here if you're so inclined. But what comes as something of a surprise is that the censorship wasn't actually the result of, well, censorship.
PEGI, the Pan European Game Information rating body, claims that it assessed the uncut version of the game and found "no issue" with the content, and thus awarded it an 18 rating - essentially the European version of the ESRB's M rating. Ubisoft then edited the game, removing six 20-second scenes, after which PEGI reassessed it and once again gave it an 18 rating. That's the version that went out the door.
"Let me emphasize that we did not censor or edit the game in any shape or form," a PEGI spokesperson told The Guardian. "Some time later [after the first rating], the publisher made a decision to make alterations to the game which meant it had to be re-submitted to us as a different version. We are not privy to reasons why the game was edited and cannot, therefore, give you any other details. This version was subsequently rated 18 uncut also."
In other words, the cuts had no bearing on the PEGI rating, leading to the obvious question of why the edited material wasn't restored after The Stick of Truth failed to earn a "16" rating, which was presumably the goal. Ubisoft EMEA said only that it was a "market decision" to edit the game, perhaps suggesting that it had concerns about a public backlash against some of its dicier elements. But who buys a South Park game without expecting offensive content (and anal probing)? It's pleasing to hear that PEGI wasn't responsible for restricting the content, but even more baffling that Ubisoft chose to do it unbidden.
Source: The Guardian