Suzaku and Top Hat Studios addressed the recent spat between mostly Japanese developers and Sony over the new censorship policy for the PS4. The developers addressed these concerns in relation to their game Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story, which is scheduled to release on the PS4 and PS Vita.
The news was rolled out over on the Kickstarter page for the game, where the developer and the publishing partner both had their say on Sony’s new policy. Ben Widdowson, one of the developers at Suzaku, explained in the post that they don’t support censorship of art (obviously, given the sexy nature of the game Sense) and that at the same time they understand the position of other developers who did choose to censor their art in order to keep their games on the PlayStation platform.
According to Widdowson, if they are going to release Sense on the PS Vita and PS4, they will need to abide by Sony’s platform policies. Obviously this puts the developers in a very similar position as Madmind Studios when they were attempting to release the uncensored version of Agony on various platforms.
As noted in the post, Widdowson explains that they will comply with Sony’s policy if it’s required of them to do so, but if gamers want to opt out of their Vita or PS4 version and receive a Switch or Steam key instead, they can…
“Any edits and censorship required by Sony to release on the PS4 and VITA will be made as needed. We do not anticipate in an absolute worst case scenario this will be anything beyond minor edits to art, but it’s still something which we wanted to prepare for.
“The game will remain unedited on PC and Switch, regardless of distribution platform. We will be extremely clear on what content was cut and how it is being changed, and the art book will feature cut art so that you will be able to see it clearly.
“Every person who backed the kickstarter or pre-ordered the game on PS4 or PSVITA will receive a digital Nintendo Switch or PC copy for free (PC via steam or direct download).”
Top Hat Productions also shared their thoughts on the news, given that Suzaku partnered with Top Hat in order to get Sense published on the home consoles.
According to Top Hat Productions, they note that their hands are basically tied and that they don’t agree with Sony’s censorship policy, but there also isn’t much that they can do about it at this point…
“Personally, we’re also disappointed with this decision, and will continue to inquire about further information in regards to it, as well as continue to be transparent with any games – including Sense – which we publish on the PS4 & VITA Platforms. We do not anticipate that this will effect anything in a serious fashion, but as Ben stated, we are prepared for a slight delay on Sony platforms in a worst case scenario if certain edits are requested by Sony. While we are very happy to be partnered with Sony and value their partnership immensely, we think this is a policy misstep – and much like Steam is opening itself to new content – we hope Sony will rethink this decision in the near future. Unfortunately, as Ben said above, we aren’t big enough either to be able to bargain with the wider industry on these topics, and thus are at the mercy of platforms we distribute through and partner with.”
It’s not surprising that indie studios and smaller publishers would take this approach given that being denied access to a platform can make or break indie studios.
Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story was crowdfunded through Kickstarter to the tune of $60,000. It’s not scheduled to release until the summer of 2019.
The game is rife with fan-service, something that Sony has taken major issues with in various Japanese games designed to appeal to straight male gamers.
The developer and publisher are obviously worried about potential censorship of Sense given that most new visual novels and Japanese games containing ecchi content had to be censored. There’s a growing list of games that have been censored in the wake of this new policy, including games only released in Japan.
One of the more egregious cases is Mary Skelter 2, which released in China, but the localizers were forced by Sony to heavily censor the “Purification” system in the game at the last minute and it ended up breaking the game for a lot of Chinese gamers.
According to one developer, the entire censorship process is done in English, even for Japanese-only games. This has caused a lot of frustration in the Japanese development community, but Sony is intent on maintaining this policy in order to spite male gamers. This was made even more evident when it was unannounced that the gay dating simulator Dream Daddy would be released on the PS4 with even more content than the PC version, and there have been no announcements about the game having to be censored. This also came shortly after Omega Labyrinth Z and Super Seducer were both banned from being released in the West on the PS4, despite the fact that Super Seducer has no nudity in it.
On the upside, many of these very same games are available on Steam or the Nintendo Switch in their full uncensored state.
(Thanks for the news tip Richard Gristle)