Sony Imposes Limitations to Sexual Content in PlayStation Games Following #MeToo Concerns

Apr 17, 2019
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Sony has begun imposing limitations on sexually explicit content that’s deemed acceptable for would-be PlayStation games. The report (locked under a paywall) comes from The Wall Street Journal, which cites several anonymous sources.

A Sony spokesman told WSJ:

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Sony is concerned the company could become a target of legal and social action.

We don’t have criteria in written guidelines or that sort of thing because the policy was introduced kind of suddenly in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Another spokeswoman added:

[Sony has] responsibility to our users as a platform holder. [It’s] so that creators can offer well-balanced content on the platform and [gaming] does not inhibit the sound growth and development [of youngsters].

However, The Wall Street Journal also mentioned the disappointment of several game developers for this new policy, particularly in Sony’s own homeland of Japan, where sexually explicit content is more widespread in games. Not only are they concerned about the potential limitations to their creative approach during development, but they’ve also pointed out that the lack of written guidelines is proving problematic in itself.

The CEO of a small Japanese studio said:

You don’t know what they 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.

Another executive from a Japanese developer didn’t mince words on the outcome of this policy:

What they’re saying to us is basically go find a niche somewhere else.

These developers won’t have the same issues on a platform like Steam on PC, for instance, but they can’t be happy about having to censor their niche games on PlayStation consoles, particularly because that particular niche audience is far more prevalent on Sony’s PlayStation 4 than the Nintendo Switch or Microsoft’s Xbox One.

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