Here are the following forms of censorship I have noticed in the game:
Both the maximum andminimum heights have a reduced range compared to the Japanese version of the game. (Link to locked Height Thread. Maximum height restriction has been removed.)
- A cutscene in chapter 1 of Episode 4 was removed.
- Two cutscenes in Chapter 8 of Episode 4 were removed. Scene 2 and Scene 3.
- Al was given basewear (or is it innerwear?) in his introduction cutscene.
- Hitsugi was given her school uniform during her internal cutscenes in Chapter 5 of Episode 4. (Link to Japanese version.)
- The lack of Smart Innerwear.
- The gender restricted doors in the Hotsprings Alliance Base were removed.
- Slave Weapons were renamed into Raven Weapons (personally I don't mind this too much, but it does beg the question of how they'll rewrite the flavor text if they ever plan on adding the flavor texts).
Likely Future Censorship:
- The removal of certain costumes and outfits such as the chibi suits as they would render the height restrictions meaningless.
Strawpolls from another Thread(s)
Censored Gaming made a video on the matter of censorship in PSO2 Global.
MMOByte also made a video on the subject.
Overview and All the Content.
While some of these are overall minor, such as the addition of basewear to AL and Hitsugi having her school uniform in her internal cutscene, though honestly unnecessary, others are more reaching, such as the Height Restriction and the Cutscene Removal.
One of the features that PSO2 touts is its character creator, yet in Global we have an unnecessary restriction on it. Other games, such as FFXIV, allow their players to go beyond PSO2 Global's minimum and global height; Female Au'Ra in FFXIV, for example, can go below PSO2's minimum. The height restriction will also see some future cosmetics removed, namely the chibi/mini suits that would render the height restriction meaningless.
The cutscene removal sets a precedent for the removal and censorship of any potentially controversial content or topic raised by the game. It will likely cause two future cutscenes that contain plenty of character development, interactions, and details on character relationships to be removed. Furthermore, this goes against the "All the Content promise." In the 2020 Road Map Announcement, it stated:
Well, we intend to keep this promise while also making sure series veterans and newcomers alike get to experience the story unfolding with each new episode release as it was originally intended.
These cutscenes, no matter how minor you believe them to be, are story content and are part of the story as it was originally intended.
The Legal Argument.
Some people have suggested that it may be due to laws, such as the Child Pornography Prevention Act (or CPPA for short), against child pornography for some of these changes, some citing laws such as 18 U.S. Code § 1466A, but I personally have found this to be untrue, at least in regards to US law.
If we refer to the Supreme Court Case, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, where it presented the question:
The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA), prohibits, inter alia, the shipment, distribution, receipt, reproduction, sale, or possession of any visual depiction that "appears to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct." 18 U.S.C. 2252A, 2256(8)(B) (Supp. V 1999). It also contains a similar prohibition concerning any visual depiction that is "advertised, promoted, presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression that the material is or contains a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct." 18 U.S.C. 2252A, 2256(8)(D) (Supp. V 1999). The question presented is whether those prohibitions violate the First Amendment to the Constitution.
In the Supreme Court's ruling, it stated:
The statute is aimed at hard core child pornography and does not apply to innocuous images of naked children. Nor does it reach drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings depicting youthful persons in sexually explicit poses.
As we have discussed, there are several ways to disseminate educational, medical, or artistic works concerning a child's sexuality without violating the CPPA: The Act does not cover drawings, cartoons, sculptures, and paintings that depict youthful-looking persons in sexual poses; it supplies an affirmative defense to persons who disseminate visual depictions involving adults who may appear to be children, provided that the depictions are not promoted or presented as child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2252A(c) (Supp. V 1999); and the Act does not apply to visual materials in which sexually explicit conduct by children is understood to be taking place, as long as the sexually explicit conduct is not itself visually depicted.
PSO2 would fall under the umbrella of "drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings," and PSO2 does not promote or present itself as child pornography. Thus the legal precedent set by Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, would mean the CPPA would not apply to PSO2.
Now 18 U.S. Code § 1466A does state:
Any person who, in a circumstance described in subsection (d), knowingly produces, distributes, receives, or possesses with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting
So it does include "drawing[s], cartoon[s], sculpture[s], or paintingp[s]," but it also requires that the person(s) in question knowingly produce, receive, or possess with intent to distribute child pornography. The key words being knowingly and intent, as Sega would not be considered to be persons who knowingly or possess intent to distribute child pornography if this were to somehow be brought up in a court of law. Simply by having a policy against such depictions they would have a defense against such accusations as that is how it works with Symbol Arts. So there are no legal issues regarding short characters.
In regards to the cutscenes, if you actually watch the removed cutscene, the camera does not show Al's hand when he accidentally grabs Kohri's chest. Furthermore, the cutscene is in the game's files; that's where the dubbed voice lines came from. If there was an actual legal issue with the cutscenes, then they wouldn't be in the game's files. Any thing within a game's files constitutes as part of the game's content as far as rating boards and legal entities are concerned; an example of this would be Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and its infamous Hot Coffee Mod where the sex scenes were found within the game's files; thus the game was re-rated in rating boards across the world and banned in countries where said content is inappropriate. Simply by having the content within the game files, even if inaccessible during normal gameplay, constitutes as distributing said content as it is downloaded with the game.
The removed cutscene is overall tame and there are far more erotic things. An example would be Kohri's outfit during the end of Chapter 4 of Episode 4 and throughout Chapter 5. It is designed in a manner to resemble a BDSM outfit and specifically draws attention to her chest and groin; the outfit is far more erotic than the bath towels that the girls wear in the removed cutscene. Also remember that the game is rated M and there are far more explicit M rated games; take Senran Kagura for example. Yes, Kohri and Hitsugi are only 16, and thus are under the age of majority in a number of countries (US included), but so are many characters in Senran Kagura, again as an example. Senran Kagura goes uncensored on every platform except for Sony's and is available in many countries. This, combined with the aforementioned reasons, makes it unlikely for there to be any legal issue for the game to go uncensored. The more likely culprit is western cancel culture.
The Moral Debate.
In regards to Sony in particular, I would like to refer to a locked thread and its OP for how a potential reason could be Sony.
Of course, a lot of this is speculation. There is a lack of communication between the Global Servers and the developers in Japan. So we do not know for absolute certainty why the censorship exists. Perhaps it is purely out of paranoia or perhaps it is due to Sony; we won't know unless Sega tells us. What we can rule out however is US law at the very least, and possibly law in general. Of course, we may have missed a law in one of the countries the global servers provides service to, but unless someone can actually provide proof of that, it is more likely that there are no legal issues with uncensoring the game.
That's why I say western cancel culture and the potential for controversy is the more likely culprit and that is a question of morality. However, this argument often forgets one thing: the reason for wanting to make short characters isn't just to make loli's or shota's. There exist adults that are above or below the restricted height limitations in the global version. I personally measure at around 155 cm which is incredibly close to the minimum height; I have adult friends who are below the minimum height. These limitations can be seen as discriminatory. Some people may wish to make dwarves, some may want to make small or SD casts, some may want to make a character that resembles them in real life. There can be plenty of reasons other than wanting to make a loli or shota, and plenty of reasons to make those types of characters other than wanting to sexualize them.
A similar thing can be said with the cutscene where people may want it for reasons, other than it being a bathscene, such as how it sets a precedent for additional censorship. People can find the cutscene (or the subsequent bath scenes) entertaining. After all, it is a common trope in anime, including animes that are distributing in the west through various methods such as simulcasts.
Yes, the moral side of this issue is a very debatable subject. However, I would also like to request that people who participate in this thread remain respectful and considerate of others. Remaining civil is important as it impact the thread's existence. Many threads have been locked due to arguments becoming too heated and attacks being slung at people. There have been attempts to close down many threads discussing the topic of censorship, and many of these attempts were successful. So I do implore that people be mindful of this.
Also, do consider sending a Support Ticket with your feedback as well. You can do so by going to the top navigation bar and clicking on support and selecting Contact Us from the drop down. From there click Contact Us Now and then Submit a Request at the top. For categories, I personally selected General Request and then Technical Support, as there is no clear Ticket Category for this; if you believe another ticket category fits this better, choose it instead. Make sure to be clear in the Subject that this is feedback on Censorship.
A detailed guide on how to do so can be found on the forums; I've also linked it for ease of access.