Cyberpunk 2077 is full of dicks. From the character creation screen to the streets of Night City, the new roleplaying game constantly attempts to shock the player with sexual imagery. It’s the kind of overwhelming sexualization that would get a game banned from Twitch if it weren’t also one of the biggest games of the year.
As of this writing, Cyberpunk 2077 is the third biggest game on Twitch with just under 400,000 viewers. When it launched, more than 1 million people watched others play it. As streamers big and small roll through the game, they’re showcasing the game's many bugs, its epic storytelling, and its embrace of a hyper-sexualized world where all bodies are commodities.
According to Twitch’s Community Guidelines on User Generated Sexual In-Game Content, “Games featuring nudity, pornography, sex, or sexual violence as a core focus or feature are entirely prohibited.”
If you are playing Cyberpunk 2077, nudity and sex are unavoidable. Nudity can be toggled off in the game settings, but it’s on by default and the character creator lets you sculpt your genitals to your liking. Many of the game’s most popular clips on Twitch show off dicks and breasts in their thumbnails. According Twitch’s policy, this is essentially okay as long as the streamer doesn’t linger on this content.
“Users can play Cyberpunk 2077 on stream provided they progress naturally through things like character customization and do not spend significant periods of time focused on sexual content or nudity,” a Twitch spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.
Twitch maintains a list of video games banned from its service. Anything with an adults only rating from the ESRB is a no-go, as is anything on its list of prohibited games.
Robert Yang is an artist and video game developer who makes games about gay culture and intimacy. One of those games is Cobra Club, a dick pic simulator. It’s on the list of games banned from Twitch.
“Sadly I'm not surprised Twitch gives carte blanche to CDPR and Cyberpunk 2077 streamers to broadcast nudity because this is what Twitch's content policies have always relied on: inconsistency and hypocrisy,” Yang told Motherboard in an email. “All the rules for gay indie designers like me; zero rules for blockbuster AAA studios.”
Twitch’s light touch with Cyberpunk 2077 feels so hypocritical because the game constantly assaults the player with hyerpesexualized human bodies. “Anti-gay conservatives in games will definitely chant ‘but Cyberpunk 2077 isn't about the nudity’— which is one of the stupidest things anyone can say about a game heavily marketed on its titillating edginess and sexual aesthetics, especially when streamers specifically emphasize this sexual content to their audiences,” Yang said.
Comic billboards featuring a man about to eat ass pepper the city. An ad for a club features a bare ass with a snake creeping between the legs. And, of course, there’s the famous Mixitup soda machines which feature a fem model with a big penis. “No one is watching a Cyberpunk 2077 stream so they can see another boring gun fight! They're watching it because it successfully erases me and countless LGBTQ designers working with sexuality and intimacy in our games, and now these edgelords get to push their exploitative conservative sexual politics further,” Yang said.
Yang wanted to make it clear that dicks aren’t the problem. “My beef isn't even with CDPR who is just exploiting the pro-corporate bias here—my problem is, and has always been, with Twitch corporate's over-policing, cowardice, and fear of transparency,” he said. “Like, I get it. Unpacking sexuality and ethics takes actual work—fairness takes work. It would be difficult and humiliating for Twitch to erase all doubt about how scared and clueless and greedy they really are. It's easier for Twitch to punish everyone weaker than them and call it justice.”
It’s also ridiculous, given the source material Cyberpunk 2077 draws from. “The cyberpunk genre is about critiquing corporate control over our bodies and tech—and it's happening right now,” Yang said. “If you agree with Twitch's status quo of content moderation, you're basically the guileless expendable corporate lackey in a cyberpunk story.”
Update: This story was updated to clarify Twitch’s policy on sexual content.