Sony blames #MeToo movement, video streaming sites for its PlayStation censorship policy
On Tuesday, Sony finally revealed details on why it has taken such a censorious stance towards mature-themed content in Japanese games. The company has adopted a new internal regulatory board (based in California, the pearl-clutching capital of the world) to scrutinize and approve games submitted for publishing on PlayStation platforms. It’s important to note that Sony’s new review board is completely separate from national rating boards which have already been in place for decades.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sony executives are concerned that their global reputation could be affected by sexually-themed content sold in a few markets. One Sony spokeswoman said the company established their own internal guidelines so that content on PlayStation platforms “does not inhibit the sound growth and development” of young people.
Apparently, two key factors led to Sony’s new internal crackdown on sexual content. First, the #MeToo movement in the United States, which Sony officials say pointed to the “dangers of being associated with content that some might see as demeaning to women.” Not the dangers of the content itself (because there aren’t any), but the dangers of Sony being associated with it.
The second factor leading to Sony’s censorious heel-turn is the rise of video sharing sites including YouTube and Twitch, where gamers can stream explicit fictional content, including some Japanese games which are traditionally more risqué. So games where players violently murder women (or just people for that matter) – sometimes ripping them apart from the inside out – is fine, so long as nobody flashes any side-boob in the process? Get bent, Sony.
Sony’s new policy has not only resulted in several Japanese games being censored, but some releases have been cancelled outright. Trickle-down effects have been a particular frustration for third-party developers, who still aren’t completely sure when their content will offend the Bay-Area moralists at Sony HQ. As one executive for a Japanese game developer put it:
“You don’t know what they (Sony) will say until you complete the work and submit it for review, and if they are not happy, even if they allowed the same degree of sexuality a few days before, we need to take it back and ask our staff to make adjustments. That’s very costly.”
While we still don’t know precisely where Sony draws the line for content they deem appropriate for the PlayStation platform, at least Sony is letting consumers know generally where they stand after months of censored games and broad statements. However, as Niche Gamer founder Brandon Orselli astutely points out, Sony interestingly released some initial PS5 details the same day the Wall Street Journal content policy story dropped. That way, the mainstream sites can plausibly ignore the censorship angle entirely because “OMG! 8K display support, amirite? #HYPE!”
So, there you have it. Video steaming sites and the #MeToo movement. Goddammit, Harvey Weinstein…
…and get bent, Sony.
Source: Niche Gamer