Following the news that Sony had begun regulating and censoring sexual content in video games to meet global standards, we’ve learned the company has adopted a new internal regulatory board to further scrutinize games submitted to be published on their platforms – separate from national rating boards.
The news comes from Sony officials (via the WSJ), who confirmed the company has new in-house standards that limit sexually explicit content.
A spokeswoman said they enacted their own guidelines so “creators can offer well- balanced content on the platform” so that gaming “does not inhibit the sound growth and development” of young people. The spokeswoman declined to confirm when these guidelines were introduced, or to elaborate in further detail.
Two key factors leading to Sony’s new internal crackdown on sexual content are reportedly the #MeToo movement in the United States, which Sony officials say pointed to the “dangers of being associated with content that some might see as demeaning to women.” The second factor is the rise of video channels on YouTube and Twitch, where gamers can stream explicit content from Japan, who traditionally have had lax standards on sexual content.
Sony officials also noted executives at the company have become concerned their global reputation could be tarnished from sexually explicit content sold in a few markets. One of the biggest concerns is focused on content released in Japan that features near-nudity and “images of young women who might appear underage.”
The news comes the same day as the first details on Sony’s next gaming console, which presumably will be the PlayStation 5.
“You don’t know what they will say until you complete the work and submit it for review,” said the chief executive of a small game developer in Japan. “And if they are not happy, even if they allowed the same degree of sexuality a few days before, we need to take it back and ask our staff to make adjustments. That’s very costly.”
The new policy has been forcing Japanese developers to censor their games even for release in Japan, as the new policies have been affecting their home market, not just western markets. The new policies at Sony have even forced the huge boob producer himself, Kenichiro Takaki, to leave his beloved Senran Kagura series and focus on games that fit inside these new ratings.
Nintendo confirmed they do not regulate sexual content beyond the game developers obtaining a rating from various national rating boards, and that their game consoles allow parents to restrict content based on the rating. Microsoft did not comment on the topic at this time.