Sony has really been cranking up the censorship on their products and services lately. Their PS4 censorship policies have caused financial heartache for Japanese developers and even stressed out Kenichiro Takaki enough that he decided to depart from Marvelous Entertainment. Well, it’s not just PS4 games, PS4 themes, and PS4 box art that’s getting censored, it’s also PS4 profile cover images, too.
Twitter user Xia Zeed reached out to share images of a notification he received from Sony on May 5th, 2019, indicating that his PSN account was in violation of their code of conduct for having sexual imagery in his personal PS4 profile cover image. As you can see in the image below, he received the message in his PS4 notification box, and the image below that is what his previous cover image used to be.
According to Xia, the cover image was a screenshot taken from the PlayStation 4 version of the game Akiba’s Trip.
He explained on Twitter that the capture was from in-game and that he’s had it as his profile cover image for years. He also pointed out that Akiba’s Trip doesn’t actually contain any nudity, so it didn’t make sense why the image was removed.
In case you were wondering… it’ a ps4 in game capture from Akiba’s Trip. I know it’s very close to nudity but it’s not actually nudity. I’ve had it up for years? It’s been up since the first day they introduced cover images for your profile. No complaints till now.
— Xia Zeed (@Xia_Zeed) May 6, 2019
Now if you were wondering if this was a case of someone angrily reporting Xia because he beat them in an online match recently, or maybe he came across someone who was scouting his PSN profile and decided to snitch on him, Xia explains that he doesn’t play online often and that the last time he played on PSN competitively was during the launch week of Soul Calibur VI back in October of 2018.
He explained that the cover image reversion took place while he was out. When he did log into his PS4 he received the notification and noticed that the profile cover image was blank.
I didn’t get locked out of anything. My cover image was reverted to blank. The email is dated 5/5/19 at 11:10 PM. I wasn’t even home. I barely play online. I play a lot but mostly offline. The last time I played online was a few matches during the launch week of Soul Calibur 6.
— Xia Zeed (@Xia_Zeed) May 6, 2019
What this means is that Sony is either manually checking profile images of PS4 users, even if they don’t play online, or they have a bot trawling through and flagging profiles with images that it deeps inappropriate… even if they come from PlayStation exclusives.
The notification was also sent to Xia’s phone, indicating that the profile image was in violation of their terms of service.
Basically, Sony is cracking down even on cover images that you use in offline play or online play. No matter what you can’t use certain kinds of images in your profile, even if it’s from games on the PlayStation, and even when it doesn’t actually contain nudity or any sexual content. Ecchi or heavy fan-service based images appear to be verboten now.
For those of you who are unfamiliar what the way cover images work, YouTuber YourSixStudios gives a quick minute and a half breakdown so that you can see how to make custom covers for your profile and where they’ll appear.
So the cover image basically just appears behind your profile icon and PSN username.
When your friends or other people go to visit your profile, they’ll see the image in the background behind your thumbnail image.
Sony’s censorship policies have been escalating in recent months, so it’s not surprising that they would go from censoring games and PS4 background themes, to actual user cover images… even if you only play offline.
Now on the upside to all of this is that there was no account penalties or suspensions on Xia’s account. He did point out that he didn’t want his actual PSN ID or real name broadcast publicly in case Sony decides to sanction his account.
In the censorious state of PlayStation, not only do you have to worry about avoiding offending anyone lest you get suspended and lose access to your digital games, but you also have to be careful which games you snag screenshots from and use as your cover image, because they just might get you in trouble with the meaner, harsher, more censorship prone Sony.
(Thanks for the news tip Xia Zeed)