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Sony’s Censorship Policy

 

Sony has implemented a set of guidelines for games released on their platform that censors more risqué elements within them. According to an interview with The Wall Street Journal, this was mostly due to them wanting to get in front of, and prevent, any potential backlash from social and global audiences around the world now that streaming games has become a popular standard in gaming. They’ve also stated that they feel the need to protect the children, and these new policies are to ensure unwanted sexual content will be associated with their platform. These more strict policies have affected a wide range of games, from smaller independent ones, to triple A titles.

The largest game to date that has had needed to conform to these new policies was Capcom’s Devil May Cry V. One scene in particular, that was exclusive to the PS4 version’s release, saw long-time series protagonist Trish have her nude butt covered by a purple light.

This has since been patched out, but other versions, such as the Xbox One, did not have to apply this strange form of censorship, especially in an M-rated game. Kenichirō Takaki left Marvelous due to these changes, because of how severely his games were being censored. The Senran Kagura series, from Kenichirō Takaki, is known to be heavy with sexualized content and fan service and is responsible for exactly the type of content Sony wants no part of. One such element of these games is their Intimacy Mode, which sees players interact with the bodies of these young-looking digital girls.

This new change in policy has gamers divided. On one hand, you have long-time fans of these series, such as Senran Kagura enthusiasts, upset that their games are being censored and staples of their franchises are being removed or are being cancelled in the west. Others are glad that these changes are coming into effect because they do not agree with these modes to begin with. Nintendo, who has long been viewed as the family-friendly platform, allows these games to release without censorship as long as they can receive a rating from that region’s national rating board, and prefers parents take charge of shielding children from content they may, or may not, be ready for.

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet is another game to fall victim to the new policy changes. There is a mechanic present in the game, with exception to its PlayStation 4 release, that the bikinis will explode to reveal more of the female characters’ skin. Not even the downloadable clothing options on PS4 will retain the mechanic, despite being paid for.

Then there are games like Omega Labyrinth Z that was banned from releasing in the West, despite already receiving a rating from the ESRB because of Sony’s new policy changes. Initial reports were that the title was cancelled because of quality assurance failure, but that turned out to be false with the game already available in Japan and successfully getting an M rating.

There are countless other examples of this policy’s effect, but one interesting aspect of this policy is that it doesn’t seem to pertain to violence, which it should, given the company’s reasoning revolving around protecting children. Mortal Kombat 11 was able to successfully release on Sony’s platforms with no edits or forms of censorship whatsoever, despite being one of the most gruesome entries in the series and violent games to launch to date. With the leniency towards violence and the strong push to censor sexual content, one has to wonder if there is perhaps a deeper meaning on why Sony has decided to pursue this route.

Whatever the case may be, Sony is treading a dangerous path for both content creators and consumers. We have bodies in place to ensure games get the correct rating and that more sinister content is not released to those who should not view it. Sony, going above and beyond the sole purpose of these companies, may come across as a power-hungry entity throwing its weight around and deciding what can or can’t be on their platform, regardless of said game successfully gaining an acceptable rating.

Many see games as art and would rather no one involve themselves in the vision these developers have for their game. If the game’s rating is acceptable and approved by that national body, it should release. Nintendo’s approach to allowing consumers to vote with their wallets, and for the ratings of these games to prevent them from falling into hands that are not maturely ready, seems to be the more consumer-friendly route to take.

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  1. Don’t expect franchises like Persona or Final Fantasy VII Remake to stay exclusive to PlayStation for much longer. “Soyny” are losing their former loyal customers in Japan, itself, thanks to these censorship policies, that are being dictated by SCI head office in California.

  2. The Verbalist on June 17, 2019 at 8:32 pm said

    It’s their platform, Sony can do whatever they want and allow whatever they want to be released for play on the Playstation platform. It is well within their rights to do so.

    It’s also a possibility that they’ll take a profit hit and a loss of customer confidence in the product based on those actions.

  3. Thanks for writing about this. Sony’s censorship polices is what convinced me to completely boycott their products. As the article mentioned we have the rating boards for a reason and going over them to play moral busybodies when games like GTAV and Mortal Kombat are allowed on the platform is absurd.

    One important detail that wasn’t mentioned is the fact that these censorship decisions are made by a board in Sony’s HQ in California. This forces Japanese developers to make all their communication in English and it also means that there are no concrete standards which costs developers time and money for every subsequent submission.

    Sony have sent a clear message – if you want to play niche Japanese games buy a Switch, which is what I did.

    • the_importer on June 17, 2019 at 10:44 pm said

      or a PC with Steam and GOG, which is what I did after selling my Playstation products,

      • Musou Tensei on June 18, 2019 at 2:36 am said

        Steam and GoG are not save either, Steam constantly bans japanese games and have very flimsy rules on what can and can’t be sold, and the anime game library on GoG is laughable, you won’t find sometuing like Senran Kagura there.

        The Switch is the only real option here.

    • YokoAutomata on June 21, 2019 at 11:47 pm said

      I can’t outright boycott them since my favorite franchises like Persona are stuck on their platform. I can only boycott the censored games and support uncensored ones on Switch. But I have been filling out Atlus surveys letting them know I want their titles on other platforms.

      I think 3rd party exclusivity publishers are moving towards 3rd party publishing anyway, since they recognize there’s an audience on PC. Look how many timed “exclusives” we got this generation.

  4. Keep up the good work informing us of censorship! They can do this if they want but the power of the customer shouldn’t be underestimated. Switching to Nintendo for the future generation.

  5. I will never understand why explicit gore is A-OK! But nudity, the natural human body, is considered a great evil that must be hidden…
    No wonder everyone is so obsessed with sex, it’s such a taboo that people become starved of it and fascinated by it. If penis’ and vaginas were treated the same as any finger on your hand, mark my words, sexual related crime would collapse to a pittance in one generation. Instead you have parents who cannot even speak the correct names when dealing with their own children!!!!! What mad world is this??

    • YokoAutomata on June 21, 2019 at 11:57 pm said

      Explicit violence is next on the table. Did you see the response from Dean Takahashi regarding explicitly violent scenes in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?

      “I have been a Call of Duty fan from the first game in 2003. But I have never wondered about this question before, until now. Should this particular game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, be made? The small glimpse I’ve seen of it so far tells me no,” he begins with, before later also saying: “Sometimes you have to judge something on just what your eyes tell you. And my vote is that this single-player campaign should not ship with these scenes.” -Dean Takahashi

      He would further elaborate on twitter that he is “not a book burner. Or a game burner. In 30 years of writing about games, I have never said something like this. I am raising the question for this one. And I am saying they should drop these scenes. I am flagging this for parents to be aware of another “No Russian.”

      Moral outrage and activism are going to ruin video games. I call game “journalists” of the modern era “turncoats.” They used to defend free expression in art & entertainment. Now they’re the moral busybodies trying to make a name for themselves as the virtue police.

  6. Musou Tensei on June 18, 2019 at 2:44 am said

    By this time last year I have bought around 15 PS4 games and bought multiplat games usually for it, this year I bought 2 so far and I don’t think I will buy any more after Judgment (and I’m even contemplating if I should just wait for a possible PC release), now I’m buying all multiplat games for Switch, or PC if no Switch version exists. Good job Sony, your virtue signalling bullshit costs you a lot of money the people you try to pander to simply won’t bring you, of course I won’t buy any future Sony systems either, I will clear my large PS4 backlog and be done with Sony, my gaming future is Nintendo and PC.

  7. What’s shocking to me is the used-to-be censorship king (Nintendo) now has Dead or Alive 3 extreme on their console and Witcher 3.

    Sony’s making a mistake with their censorship policies.

  8. neilvmoore on June 18, 2019 at 4:51 pm said

    How is this article not political? Honest question. Just because it’s not telling me “I’m a bad person” doesn’t mean it’s not political. I thought this website was supposed to report on games, not controversial things.

    • Lysander Nemoinis on June 18, 2019 at 5:29 pm said

      It’s not political because the article is merely informing the readers about what’s going on, and it effects video games and the people who play them. It’s informing people as to what’s going on so we can make more informed decisions. Now if the author had come out and blatantly said exactly WHO was making these censorious policy changes at Sony and WHY (even though he’d be absolutely right because I think we all know or can at least guess), then that might be leaning more into the realm of politics. Censorship is not a political issue, because regardless of one’s political alignment, people should be against censorship of art and speech, pure and simple.

      • neilvmoore on June 18, 2019 at 6:06 pm said

        Yeah, I disagree. Censorship is wrong, and I’m against it. However, the whole point of anything being political is to get people to make different choices. You’re literally describing political activism when you talk about people making more informed decisions. An example of an article that’s not political, would be talking about some cool feature in a game, like a gameplay mechanic, or graphics, or storyline. By discussing things like, “Sony’s Censorship Policy”, or “Epic Games Store” and its security problems, that’s going beyond the realm of just discussing video games. That’s discussing how something impacts you and your life. And merely “reporting” on it without bias doesn’t subtract from the article being politically backed. You see, if someone tells you, “exclusively games isn’t political and isn’t telling you you’re a bad person”, that’s filling the website with people who have expectations of viewing articles that don’t contain those things. Then, the writers begin subtly and not so subtly re-introducing political articles into a website whose message is very clearly to report on things “exclusively games”, and suddenly, you have political activism. Even attempting to get people to be “more informed” by giving them all of the information and then letting them absorb that information and make their own decision, is STILL political activism.

        I’ll give you an example of a way that they could have made an epic games article without being political. “Epic games adds such and such feature, now you can do such and such”. That’s NOT political. That’s reporting on a thing that Epic lets you do, Writing an article called “lets talk about epic games” and then filling it to the absolute brim with all the controversial things they’ve been doing, and then not taking a stance on whether you agree or disagree with it, is STILL political, because it’s attempting to fill your head with ideas and then let you resolve them yourself, when they shouldn’t even be doing that in the first place since their website is attempting to remain OUT of politics to begin with.

        It’s disingenuous.

        And censorship IS a political issue. How is it not? Saying it’s “not” a political issue and then simultaneously saying people should be against is because it will protect art and speech, is literally political activism. You don’t get to say something is not something, and then immediately do the thing you’re saying it’s not. Activism is being in support or opposition of a cause. You’re in support of preventing censorship, which is good. That means you’re actively involved in protecting something that is good for the whole because you want everyone to benefit. That sounds a whole lot like politics to me.

        • neilvmoore on June 18, 2019 at 6:33 pm said

          And not only that, if you look down the list of comments you see people talking about “changing their spending habits” in response to this article. This article, is LITERALLY causing people to either not buy things, or change which system they buy things on, because it’s inherently a political article. So, not only have I logically explained why the article is political, the comments themselves largely back up my logic because people are literally making changes in their life in direct response to this article even existing.

          • You can disagree all you want but it doesn’t change the fact that its an article stating the who, what, where, etc. of Sony’s censorship policy.

            “However, the whole point of anything being political is to get people to make different choices.”

            That’s your opinion, stop trying to pass it as fact.
            You have used no logic at all. Try again.

          • neilvmoore on June 19, 2019 at 7:42 am said

            @Freeman

            “That’s your opinion, stop trying to pass it as fact.
            You have used no logic at all. Try again.”

            Hmm, considering I gave tons of it and you’ve given none, I will just go with what I said and that’ll just be the end of it. You see, I don’t have to convince myself that I’m wrong, and I certainly don’t have to convince anybody else. Especially now that I see how people react on here. You’re really no better than reddit. There’s no real conversation to be had on here, people here just snap back with their emotions.

            So, I’m pretty content with my thoughts regarding this website. I think it would be better served without its OP-EDs for the simple reason, it undermines the purpose of this website which is to talk about exclusively games. Talking about the things that imply “you’re a bad person” if you continue to endorse censorship, or “you’re a bad person” if you continue to buy games on epic games store after we just gave you 100 reasons, but then pretended not to pick a side (CNN does this, btw), simply shows to me that this website has a political agenda, while it pretends not to have one. Nice try Exclusively Games, you may have fooled everyone else here, but you certainly haven’t fooled me.

      • You don’t understand though. Neil here doesn’t want things he doesn’t like to be reported on lest he’d label them political regardless if they actually are, thinking he’d be able to manipulate what articles are published here. It’s quite sad really.

    • STFU and lay off the soy.

      • neilvmoore on June 18, 2019 at 8:12 pm said

        Brah you’re the most soy infused 10-ply manbaby here right now.

        • Yo its amazon can you open the door I got your soylent!

        • @Neilvmoore
          Are you trolling or are you some low IQ guy pretending to be smart.
          Article states the followin:
          – Sony has a censorship policy
          -sony implements that on certain games
          -if you buy said games don’t be surprised if content is missing.
          You don’t have to be smart to understand that.You do seem stuck in the 4th.grade though.

    • If an article is purely objective, it isn’t political. As simple as that.

      And this article is merely informing about Sony’s censorship politics. Not in a single phrase it says if it is right or wrong, and what people should do. It just informs.

      If the article would compare different console’s graphics would be political? If it would compare fps would be political? I don’t think so. Then how informing about different companys censorship behaviour is political, when it directly affects their game’s content as well?

      If the same game is censored in one platform and it isn’t in another ones, ofc thats an information that concerns to players because all of this is about what we can spect to find in the games we may buy.

      – “People making more informed decisions is political activism”.

      – “It’s political because in this comment section ppl is saying they will change their spending habits”.

      Those are the most anti-consumer statements I have read in a long time.

      You’re basically saying that players shouldn’t be informed. That they shouldn’t decide for themselves. That they should act like blind retards and if they have bought some product to a certain company, they should keep buying them anything they will release.

      Shameful.

  9. SnapperTrx on June 18, 2019 at 10:21 pm said

    Sony can do what they please, but they will lose developers who don’t want to make multiple versions of the same game and for what? To blur out some cleavage? I also read somewhere that Sony’s guidelines on what is acceptable and what is not changes with the wind, so that what was given a thumbs up today could be changed tomorrow, which means going back to do more work.

    Either way, Sony has opted to take the decision out of players hands and decided to make the decision for you. Are you a fan of scantily clad women? Tough luck, Sony doesn’t want you to see that, but some guy getting his entrails ripped out and consumed while he’s still alive, screaming – double finger guns, my man, that is a-o-k.

    Unless players make their displeasure known by spending their hard earned dollars elsewhere Sony will continue to take choice from our hands and preemptively “protect” us from the things we love because a few vocal people on Twitter and Facebook whine and complain, all while not actually buying or playing games.

  10. An office in Soyland California makes these decisions. I found this policy baffling, but now it makes perfect sense. It’s odd, every time a console maker has a few epic years they manage to crap their pants. This is such a shame, the PS4 has been great for this console peasant.

  11. Nimrodbenaim on June 20, 2019 at 6:26 am said

    this is so stupid. “protect the children”. if thay want to protect pepole make a censorship an option to use, not force it. btw children have access to the internat i can tell you for a fact that thay dont care about censorship

  12. Randy Kent on June 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm said

    Why even force censorship when there’s a rating system specifically there to warn people about “bad” content in their video game????

    “Ah yes, this game is rated M for mature which includes sexual content, nudity, and violence. But don’t worry, we got rid of all that stuff for you!

  13. I quite literally just recently built a brand new PC for gaming just because of this BS right here. I don’t have a single DOA title in my library and jiggle physics have no sway on whether I purchase a game or not. However, I want the choice to enjoy the games released exactly the way the developers intended them to be experienced.

  14. As an adult who can make my own decisions I will vote with my wallet.

    Time to buy a switch.

  15. DarthZehcnas on October 8, 2019 at 9:06 pm said

    Please keep this article up to date and provide more follow ups, i have a sneaking suspicion there will be a big turn around sooner or later and would love to be updated when it does.

    And it is sad how everything in society now is using the “protect the children” guise. its pathetic that adults with opinions they cant defend use children to push it.

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