Nintendo Says Censoring Games is Bad for the Industry
- Censorship significantly inhibits diversity.
- Prefers to leave regulation to ESRB.
- Parental controls and good parenting replace censorship.
At Nintendo’s Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, president Shuntaro Furukawa had some words for the recent trend of censorship in games, such as those by Sony. When asked about how Nintendo intended to handle the matter, Furakawa responded that content regulation for third-party titles was better left to ratings agencies like the ESRB or CERO.
He went on to say that arbitrary gatekeeping of games–as in, not driven by market forces–was ultimately harmful to the industry as a whole. In this tweet from Censored Gaming, you can see the quote in full:
Nintendo has reaffirmed that they believe existing 3rd party rating systems and parental controls are the best approach to content regulation. This is from Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa at this year's Annual General Meeting of Shareholders pic.twitter.com/T5WM21BT91
— Censored Gaming (@CensoredGaming_) June 28, 2019
And since Twitter is notorious for censorship itself, here is the full text of Furukawa’s response, as well as the question:
About the content regulation. On other platforms, there are cases of restrictions applied independently of CERO and other third-party organizations. What does Nintendo do?
Nintendo, as do 3rd-parties and their software, applies for an objective rating from 3rd-party organizations prior to release. If platform-holding companies choose arbitrarily, the diversity and fairness in game software would be significantly inhibited. We provide parental controls that can be used to apply limits.
Compare this quote to the one below on the same subject by the president of Sony Japan, Atsushi Morita, as shared by One Angry Gamer:
Regarding the regulation of the depiction of content, it’s simply a matter of matching global standards. As for the freedom of expression… we have to think about what might be unpleasant for children and shield them from those things while also thinking and assessing ways to find a balance [for that expression].
So Nintendo has positioned itself as a sort of ideological opponent to Sony on the issue of censorship, favoring personal responsibility, parental controls, and ratings agencies rather than top-down control. While Sony chooses to artificially shape the market to meet what it calls “global standards,” Nintendo puts tools in place for consumers to make these decisions for themselves.
It’s a fascinating collision of perspectives, and I look forward to watching how it will play out in the long run. What do you think? Which line of thinking is more likely to lead to long term success? Which do you favor personally?