Sony have finally made some public statements about their apparent censorship crackdown, which seemingly goes above and beyond the work of regional ratings boards to further limit the portrayal of nudity and sexuality in the games available on PlayStation.
A Sony spokesperson talked to the Wall Street Journal and confirmed that the company have devised their own guidelines for sexual material that overrides guidance from the ESRB and PEGI. Apparently this will help studios offer "well-balanced content" without inhibiting "the sound growth and development" of the young and vulnerable. No specific rules were outlined, nor was there an indication of when these rules go live.
Or rather, went live. It's pretty clear that the crackdown began at some point last year, with many developers delaying or outright cancelling titles due to an undisclosed censorship disagreement with Sony. Many of those games have since appeared on other platforms without censorship, or at least have been released in some form. Most recently (and most notoriously), a ridiculous level of censorship was found in some regional version of Devil May Cry 5, in which a scant half-second of a female character's behind was obscured behind a goofy looking light ray.
Are Sony taking a moral high ground? There may be good intentions behind this move, but it also seems like a way to avoid litigious and socially embarrassing mishaps. Sony have been more reticent in public than ever since the massive data breach that aired a lot of dirty laundry in their music and movie divisions, and it may be that the scars of that reputational damage are causing the company to lock down on anything that the media may take them to task for.
With Nintendo Switch — possibly the most family oriented console currently on the market — picking up a lot of these titles without censorship (but with appropriate guidance warnings for parents), we're left wondering what Sony is potentially risking for a little reputational gain. Wherever one stands on the debate, we're certain about one thing: Sony needs to be clear with its developers and its audience about these new guidelines rather than blocking production at the last minute based on clandestine rulings.
Thanks to Engadget for the information.
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