Rockstar has denied that the "Hot Coffee" pornographic mini-game, which is enabled by a mod for Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, is actually a part of the game, after it became the subject of an investigation by the ESRB in North America.
San Andreas is currently rated M (Mature) by the ESRB, but last week the ratings board came under fire from Californian assemblyman Leland Yee, who accused the board of failing parents and generally being untrustworthy after news of the Hot Coffee mod broke.
It's hardly a change of tune for Yee, who seems to have made it his life's mission to prove that the generally well-regarded ESRB is in cahoots with the rest of the industry to put lower ratings on games than they actually deserve.
However, in this instance the board is taking claims that Hot Coffee should have led to San Andreas meriting a rare AO (Adults Only) rating seriously - and has launched a new investigation into the content of the game.
"The integrity of the ESRB rating system is founded on the trust of consumers who increasingly depend on it to provide complete and accurate information about what's in a game," ESRB president Patricia Vance explained in a statement.
"If after a thorough and objective investigation of all the relevant facts surrounding this modification, we determine a violation of our rules has occurred, we will take appropriate action," she concluded.
Rockstar has confirmed that it is aware of the investigation and claims to be "complying fully with their enquiries" - but it denies responsibility for the Hot Coffee game, saying that "the work of the mod community is beyond the scope of either publishers or the ESRB."
As to the question of whether Hot Coffee was actually included with the game but not actually enabled, Rockstar has addressed this directly for the first time, according to US website GameSpot - which reports that a representative of the company told them directly that the Hot Coffee code is not included on the GTA game discs.
That runs contrary to claims by the author of the mod, however - he says that his modification merely unlocks an unfinished mini-game already present in the code.
Which side is telling the truth may not be relevant, however - since as long as there's no way of accessing the mini-game in unmodified copies of the game, it seems unlikely - although not impossible - that Rockstar will be held responsible for it.
Other publishers will no doubt be watching the conclusion of this affair closely, as if Rockstar is punished over Hot Coffee, it could lead to the industry having to adopt much more stringent rules about what's shipped on game discs, even when it isn't part of the accessible game content.