There seems to be a growing pattern of censorship in the Microsoft camp, especially regarding certain themes and topics, one of which includes religious references. The latest bit of censorship centers around certain words that were filtered out of Forza Horizon 4‘s music selection.
NeoGaf user DynamiteCop posted up a thread on May 18th, 2019 detailing the songs that have all been stealth-edited in Forza Horizon 4, where the words “stardusted” and “high” and God” were all removed from certain songs.
There’s a video example of the censorship with a snippet of the segments from the songs that were censored that was compiled by YouTuber bermuda.
For comparison’s sake, the NeoGaf thread also contains the full videos featuring the uncensored lyrics from the artists, including Dreamers’ “Fake It Til You Make It”.
Anna Yvette’s “Shooting Star”.
And CHVRCHES’ “Never Say Die”.
Initially they all thought it was random censorship by Microsoft, but it turns out that this actually took place back in March.
Buried deep on the /r/Forza sub-reddit someone was actually asking about this very topic before, when user acer589 asked back in April…
“Censored Music? I know most people don’t listen to the music in game, but was it recently censored? Songs are missing words like “god” and “high”. Did I change a setting or is this a recent change?”
Someone replied noting that all the music referencing words that could be construed as drug related or religious, such as “God”, were censored.
DynamiteCop quoted from the changelog that was posted up by the community manager over on the official Forzamotorsport.net website back on March 26th, 2019.
In the cross-platform fixes section it states that the songs were edited to comply with ESRB requirements.
What’s odd is that they don’t say anything about PEGI or CERO. It would be interesting to test if the other regions also had the songs censored as well.
Following up on the recent kerfuffle involving a user having to change his name from “JesusIsLord” on Xbox Live due to Microsoft not wanting “controversial” religious topics used in gamertags, it almost makes it seem like they might have something against certain religions.
I did reach out to the ESRB to ask them about the standards regarding musical lyrics in games and whether or not there have been changes to include restrictions on certain kinds of lyrics beyond profanity. If they respond the article will be updated to reflect their response.
(Thanks for the news tip Red)