Content policy changes are big deals in gaming. If a platform holder decides that they’re going to allow or not going to allow certain kinds of content, it completely changes the landscape of that platform’s library. For instance, Valve opening up the door for Adults Only titles meant tons of developers have been pursuing making more lewd games in recent times. Antipodes to this is Sony’s content policies regarding fan-service and ecchi games, to which they’ve forced developers to censor their games or outright banned certain games from appearing on the PS4. Well, Xbox games marketing manager, Aaron Greenberg, managed to answer a few questions regarding Microsoft’s content policy for Xbox and explain where they stand on the issue.
In an interview with Twinfinite at this year’s GamesCom in Cologne, Germany, Greenberg was asked about how he felt about Sony’s policies, but he said he couldn’t speak on behalf of Sony but did mention that Microsoft hasn’t changed their content policies for games made available on Xbox…
“While I’m not familiar with what they’re doing and I cannot speak in their behalf, we have not changed our policies.
“We have store policies, we follow the ESRB and the other rating boards. We have been consistent in how we do that, and we haven’t changed what we’re doing.”
Greenberg was further pressed to answer if their policies fell closer to Nintendo’s or Sony’s in terms of allowing developers the creative freedom to make what they want.
For those of you unfamiliar, Nintendo made a public statement acknowledging that they wouldn’t be censoring any third-party games on the Switch, and that they would leave it up to regional ratings boards to determine the rating for the game.
Greenberg responded by saying…
“I think what you’ll find across everyone in the industry, there is ratings and then people also do concept reviews and they have policies on the type of content that they’ll allow on their store.
“Generally, that does map to what the rating boards are. What I can say is that we haven’t changed the way we do that and we haven’t put any type of new or unique restriction on content providers.”
While Greenberg might be paying lip service about not adding any new censorship policies, keep in mind that Microsoft has been ramping up the censorship in other areas, such as restricting users from having Christian names, or censoring certain Christian lyrics from music in Forza Horizon 4, or Xbox head Phil Spencer coming out and claiming that the Xbox platform wasn’t a free speech platform.
Technically they don’t have to announce any content restrictions, they simply already have policies in place that seem to align ideologically with what Sony is already doing. Also, their software curation seems to veer far away from any titles that are heavily fan-service oriented. Notice that Microsoft could have stepped in at any time to exclusively distribute PQube’s titles on the Xbox after Sony began enforcing their censorship policies, but they decided not to. The same thing happened when Sony banned Super Seducer from launching on the PS4… Microsoft could have stepped in to allow the game on the Xbox One, but they didn’t.
In fact, majority of the games that have been censored or restricted by Sony have re-released (or are re-releasing) on the Nintendo Switch or on Steam for PC. They haven’t been and apparently won’t be appearing on the Xbox platform(s) anytime soon.
(Thanks for the news tip Voice of Fanservice)