Sony is taking a harder stance on sexually explicit content in PlayStation games, a decision which confirms theories formulated after some of Sony’s past actions involving questionable content in some games. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Sony confirmed that the existence of new standard which limit sexual content in games that come to the PlayStation 4. Sony also referenced the #MeToo movement and the size that the company’s grown to as reasons for its desire to tone down the suggestive content in games.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sony policy on Wednesday and received comments from spokespeople within the company as well as developers who might be affected by these changes. Sony wouldn’t say when the guidelines currently in place were introduced, nor would the spokesperson discuss the details of the policy, but reasons for the change were offered. A spokesperson said the guidelines would help developers offer “well-balanced content” that “does not inhibit the sound growth and development” of younger players.
Instances of Sony’s censorship have been seen in the past in games like Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal, a game which was delayed so that a suggestive “Intimacy Mode” could be taken out of the PlayStation 4 version. Devil May Cry 5 was also censored in the West and is one of the more mainstream examples, though that censorship was removed in a later update.
Citing reasons for the censorship policies, Sony said the size that the company’s grown to means it has a greater risk of damaging its reputation with sexually explicit content. The #MeToo movement was one specific factor in the policy shift that resulted in Sony taking a harder look at how games’ content portrayed women.
“Sony is concerned the company could become a target of legal and social action,” a U.S. Sony Spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.
Another factor at play is how easy it is to watch games on Twitch. Though a version might be censored in one region but not in the next, watching an uncensored version online could end with the same ramifications listed above that Sony’s trying to avoid.
Developers who spoke to The Wall Street Journal said changes made in games such as white rays of light that are carefully positioned to cover nudity are results of Sony’s requests. According to those developers, the support of making sexually explicit games has faded, and one high-level executive of a Japanese company which makes these kinds of game said “what they’re saying to us is basically go find a niche somewhere else.”
Sony’s U.S. official who spoke to The Wall Street Journal said he’s aware of the developers’ concerns, though hopes the developers accept how the world has shifted.
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