Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan president, Atsushi Morita, finally addressed the censorship regulations that Sony has employed for PS4 games, speaking at the Japan Studio “Fun” Meeting that took place in Tokyo, Japan on December 1st, 2018. The event was themed around a celebration of SIE Japan Studio’s projects, but was also open to some fan questions. The news was picked up by Japanese gaming blogs like Ebitsu.net and Mutyun.com, which briefly covered some of the topics Morita addressed while at the meet-and-greet.
Morita explained that there was no “profound meaning” behind the decision other to match global regulation, saying…
“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 essentially Morita was fed a “think of the children” line regarding the current censorship policies being applied for PlayStation 4 games, globally.
However, this doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense when you actually “assess” the games that are being censored.
For instance, Omega Labyrinth Z was already rated for a mature audience, yet Sony completely banned it from being released in the West even though it was already out in Japan.
Mary Skelter 2 was also already rated 18+ and released for a mature audience in China, yet Sony had the localization team to censor the game’s interactive “Purification” mode via a post-launch patch… in China. Worse yet is that the post-launch patch broke the game for many Chinese gamers, which forced them to have to Jerry-rig a method in order to roll the game back to version 1.00 just to properly progress through the game.
In that case, it was a mature game for mature audiences, so according to Morita’s standards, why was it censored?
As outlined by YouTuber Appabend, not only is the censorship overdone but it’s also rather lazy and obvious, which most of the intended audience is quickly picking up on.
There’s also games like Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart, which is rated CERO D for those 17+, yet it was one of the first games to get hit with the strobe lights of death, where the developers were forced to censor the game’s CG images on PS4.
This also applied to other third-party games aimed at older audiences, including Silverio Trinity and Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal, both of which had to be censored despite being rated for mature audiences. The upcoming Senran Kagura 7EVEN will also have to be censored for release on PS4, even though it, too, was supposed to be designed with the CERO D crowd in mind (or at least it was).
None of those games were for kids, so why are they being censored?
But then there are also double standards at play when it comes to the censorship. Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san was censored ahead of release, even though it was rated CERO C for those 15 years and older. Obviously it wasn’t intended for little kids, yet it was still censored. Other games aimed at adolescents and teens, such as Game Tengoku CrusinMix, had simple fan-service images censored, despite the fact that other ‘T’ for Teen-rated games like the gay dating simulator, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, released on the PS4 uncensored.
As noted by some YouTubers, such as Raging Golden Eagle, this kind of abrasive censorship from Sony could end up ruining them in the long run to the point of no return.
This also doesn’t even cover the fact that games like The Last of Us 2, which featured lesbian kissing scene and copious amounts of violence and gore; or God of War 2, which was also very bloody and violent; or Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which featured lots of dismemberment and mutilation during the opening cinematic, have not been censored despite also being rated ‘M’ for Mature. Only the games containing fan-service have been forced to be censored or barred from release on the PlayStation 4, including third-party games.
It’s unlikely Morita will address the matter further given that he’s been relegated to the role of a lackey now that he has to answer directly to the new CEO, John Kodera, who controls all of Sony Interactive Entertainment in America, Japan, and Asia, as of March 1st, 2018.
The not-so-hilarious part about it all is that Nintendo hasn’t made a peep about Sony’s new censorship policies. Instead, the company has quietly allowed lewd third-party games on the Switch without censorship, including the upcoming game from Marvelous Entertainment, Senran Kagura: Peach Ball, and Koei Tecmo’s Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet, both of which feature the Switch exclusive 4D Jiggle physics.
Another thing to consider is that several of the games mentioned above that had to be censored on the PS4 (even though they’re rated CERO C, CERO D, ‘and ‘M’ for Mature) are not being censored on the Nintendo Switch, such as Nora to Oujo Noraneko Heart and Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet, both of which had to remove content for the PS4 version.
It appears as if the Sony brand has kowtowed to the censorship specialists in California and it will continue to affect, infect, and destroy all the fan-service games both in the East and the West.
[Update: Added additional sources, added additional examples, and cleaned up the formatting.]
(Thanks for the news tip Richard).