Hypocrisy much? Sony’s “The Last of Us Part II” to feature nudity, sexual situations while third parties get censored

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) recently assigned Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II an M/17+ Rating. While this was completely expected for a violent zombie apocalypse game, the specific content descriptors indicate that The Last of Us Part II will feature both “Sexual Content” and “Nudity”.

This may come as a surprise to those who have followed PlayStation news over the past couple of years. In 2018, Sony adopted an internal regulatory board to scrutinize and approve games submitted for publishing on PlayStation platforms, paying special attention to sexual themes and mature content. It’s important to note that Sony’s review board is separate from the ESRB and other national rating boards.

To date, Sony’s policy has not only resulted in several games being censored, but some releases have been cancelled outright. The games affected have been exclusively from third parties and overwhelmingly created by Japanese developers (by comparison, The Last of Us Part II developer Naughty Dog is a U.S.-based developer owned by Sony).

To list a few examples, the western release of Omega Labyrinth Z was cancelled, gameplay modes/features were removed from both Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Scarlet and Senran Kagura Re:Newal, while Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart was censored so much that it went from a M-rated (Mature 17+) title to an E for Everyone rating on PS4.

It’s no wonder that game creators, particularly third-party developers, are frustrated by this process. 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.”

So where does Sony draw the line for mature content? At this point, we don’t know the context of The Last of Us Part II’s nudity and sexual content. However, the game is visually designed to look as realistic as the PS4 hardware will allow, while the bulk of the banned & censored third-party titles feature stylized graphics. Perhaps pixel-perfect, realistic boobs are less offensive than stylized ones? Without a clearly-defined policy, it looks as though Sony is not holding its own studios to the same level of scrutiny as it does third-party developers.

While we all wait to learn what “nudity” and “sexual content” means for The Last of Us Part II, it’s important to note that this certainly isn’t Naughty Dog’s first venture in games with full nudity (see below). Maybe all we really have to look forward to is a pixelated image of Ellie’s boobs or Joel’s dong just before the game’s title screen…

You naughty dogs…

The nudity code for Naughty Dog’s 1991 SEGA Genesis RPG “Rings of Power” is arguably the best thing about the game


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One comment

  • I feel like they let it slide because the anime girls are considered “unrealistic” and that Abbie was considered a “real woman”. Nevermind the fact that are very few women IRL who would as far as choking/stabbing a teenaged girl.

    Like

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