First-party studios stand up to Sony over abortion rights

By Kes Eylers-Stephenson,

PlayStation Studio Insomniac Games, the developer of Marvel's Spider-Man and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, has reportedly contested a company-wide email from Jim Ryan — but is unable to talk about it publically.

Last week, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan reportedly sent out an email centred on the fallout of the leaked US Supreme Court attempt to overturn Roe v Wade, thus opening the gateway for several states to make abortion more difficult to obtain.

Now, The Washington Post has stated that it has seen internal emails from Insomniac Games — a first-party PlayStation Studio — reveals that the studio was not happy with Sony, and has sent out a 60-page dossier on the matter and is donating money to a charity.

PlayStation Studio Insomniac Games and Sony donate to women's rights charity

insomniac games

First and foremost, The Washington Post notes that it has verified that Insomniac will be donating "$50,000 to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), according to an internal email sent May 13 from Insomniac CEO Ted Price." It seems that Sony will be matching this donation and employees at the studio can make a donation of their own if they choose, just so long as it goes through the PlayStation Cares programme.

Sony is also set to offer financial assistance to those affected by a potential overturning of abortion rights in their state. This will be particularly pertinent to Insomniac employees, as one of the two studio locations is in North Carolina — a state that will probably make it more difficult to get an abortion if Roe v Wade is indeed overturned by the US Supreme Court. Employees will receive financial assistance from Sony to travel to a different state and receive reproductive care.

Allegedly, there are no plans to tweet about the WRRAP donations from either Sony or Insomniac's side. The report specifically states that "Insomniac employees have been forbidden from explicitly mentioning Insomniac or Sony should they decide to retweet any announcements the WRRAP might make."

Ratche & Clank: Rift Apart

In addition to the donation, The Washington Post claims that Insomniac sent a "'near-60 page' document to PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst filled with messages from employees urging leadership — Ryan, in particular — to 'do better by employees who are directly affected.'”

Ted Price, head of Insomniac, has apparently opened up a company Q&A — again, privately seen by The Washing Post from a leaked internal email — to the many questions that have arisen in the light of Sony's handling of the abortion rights issues, as well as Insomniac's public silence on the matter. The messages from Price were not reported in full, nor was the dossier — much like the initial Bloomberg report on the Jim Ryan email. Apparently, the head of the studio believes it would be a mistake to go over Sony's head:

“There would be material repercussions for us as a wholly-owned subsidiary,” said Price in response to a question asking if employees could tweet about the donation, dossier, or Sony's assistance scheme. “Among other things, any progress that we might make in helping change [Sony Interactive Entertainment’s] approach would be stopped dead in its tracks. We’d also probably be severely restricted from doing important public-facing work in the future.”

Apparently, the team wished for Insomniac to make a formal statement like that of Bungie. In recent weeks, the Destiny 2 developer has been outspoken about its position on abortion rights being maintained and the right of the woman to choose. However, Price appears to believe that would be an impossible task for Insomniac because of Sony.

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“[Sony Interactive Entertainment] will not approve ANY statements from any studio on the topic of reproductive rights. We fought hard for this and we did not win.”

In response, The Washington Post has stated an employee at the studio directly asked if the Sony acquisition of the Ratchet & Clank developer was “now impacting our freedom of speech and our values.”

“As far as our freedom of speech goes, while we do have a LOT of autonomy that often gets taken for granted, there are times where we need to acknowledge we’re part of a larger organization,” Price reportedly said. “For the most part, our ability to tweet has been unfettered. However, there are rare times when we’re in opposition (like this week) and SIE will have the final say.”
Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Written by Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Associate Editor Kes is our resident expert in PlayStation news. He writes about upcoming exclusives like The Last of Us and God of War, PS Plus and PS Studios news, and his favourite games — The Witcher 3, Assassin’s Creed, and The Outer Wilds — before an evening swim.