Mainstream platforms still aren’t sure how to deal with sex: Baldur’s Gate 3 players booted off Xbox network for nudity clips

Baldur's Gate 3 players boosted on Xbox network while discovering new areas and battling formidable enemies.

What, pray tell us, does Microsoft have against loving, consensual sex between a magical bear and a pointy-eared humanoid?

While we weren’t planning to start 2024 with this question, it follows a spate of Xbox gaming account being banned for automatically uploading scenes from the Baldur’s Gate 3 game, which features plenty of nudity and raunchy scenes, including one involving a character that morphs into a randy bear.

Baldur’s Gate 3 has been a smash hit since its summer 2023 release, with many people playing it on the Xbox network, formerly known as Xbox Live.

The Xbox network has a function that automatically records clips of a player’s gaming on the platform, then uploads them for Xbox network community members playing the same game to view. The function had been pulling in Baldur’s Gate 3 clips featuring full-frontal nudity, plus sex scenes, leading to accounts being banned.

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While it’s fair enough that clips that could be considered explicit shouldn’t be uploaded to the Xbox network community, and that they violate community rules, it feels a bit rich that Xbox has been striking down accounts for a function that is a default setting for many players.

Baldur’s Gate 3 players reported that bans on their accounts had been implemented less than a minute after clips were uploaded, without warning. The makers of the game, Larian Studios, has said that players who have suffered this fate would “see their bans begin to lift”, and that the issue was being resolved.

Xbox said that account suspensions were the result of clips being reviewed by moderators “and,  if found in violation of our safety and content policies, actioned accordingly.”

“Our team evaluates appeals and can reverse suspensions if action was taken in error. If this was a first offense, for example, we will remove the suspension and let players know why it happened and how to avoid future issues,” the company added.

A man is playing a video game featuring a bear.
“You don’t look much like your Tinder photo”: Baldur’s Gate 3

The kerfuffle doesn’t seem derived from any sinister attempt by Microsoft to smash down on nakedness (or bear love), and appears to be a simple case of the Xbox online multiplayer technology not having been updated to synch with the increasing amount of nudity mainstream games seem to have these days.

Sex and nudity in video games is nothing new, from softporn adventure games in the 1980s to modern ‘dating’ simulations such as the Super Seducer games. While games that go hard on sexual content have tended to be niche, recently more filmic mainstream games have embraced nudity: a sign of both increased societal openness and the age-old ‘sex sells’ mantra being in play.

Baldur’s Gate 3 characters can be naked at pretty much any time, should the player desire, and romantic relationships between game characters can be fostered. However, this is far from a niche sex game, having proved to be one of the most popular adventure games in the world.

Xbox will no doubt be tweaking its online multiplayer settings to avoid issues like this cropping up again, and in the meantime has reminded players that the function automatically uploading gaming clips can be turned off.

The streaming platform Twitch has also been spinning its wheels to update its sexual content policy recently.

The platform announced that it was relaxing its community standards rules with regards to such content, after many users said they were confused about what was and wasn’t allowed. When a Twitch streamer went viral, showing off a heck of a lot of breast, it just added to the confusion.

Twitch said it now allows content that highlights the breasts, buttocks or pelvic region, while previously such content may have been banned. Sexual content has to be flagged as such, though, or risks being sought out by moderators.

It may have taken a slew of surprising account banning and a whole lot of social media confusion, but it seems like at least some major streaming platforms are slowly widening the barriers of sexual content to be more in line with the modern world.

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Jamie F
Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice, among others. He is also the creative force behind the Audible podcast Beast Master.

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