By Nick Benefield / October 28th, 2018
In case you missed the latest in Sony’s recent string of escapades, more information has come out about their new content policies. In a recent broadcast from an event held by Japanese developer Light, it was revealed that Sony is now censoring more content within its home country as well. A representative from Light indicated that the console version of Silverio Trinity: Beyond the Horizon has been ready to publish for some time, but Sony has been reluctant to approve it. One of the troubling claims from the representative is that Sony is now requiring them to respond to all questions about content entirely in English. While Light does have an English translator working on this, it understandably complicates the entire process. The representative also stated that if they are unable to pass Sony’s inspection, they will be looking to publish their game elsewhere. The following is an excerpt from the event (transcript from Hachima Kikou of esuteru):
(Following the announcement of a console version of Silverio Trinity called Silverio Trinity: Beyond the Horizon…)
Moderator: “People have been asking what platform it’s on. Oh, but can we not say?”
Light representative: “The platform? Is it okay to say it?”
Moderator: “Well, I don’t know. Would it be bad to?”
Light representative: “We already said it at the event last week, so maybe it’s fine. We applied to release it with Sony. And we already finished development. A long time ago. But yeah, we applied to Sony and it hasn’t been approved yet.”
Light representative: “Right now Sony seems to be moving toward disallowing ports of ages 18 and up titles worldwide. And this games is ages 18 and up, so it’s being subjected to a very strict inspection, and we’re getting all these questions. And like ‘Please write everything in English.’ So we’re in the middle of answering those now, and we’re not sure if we’ll get approved or not. It’s terrible, but in any case, development is done.
“So internally it’s complete, but there are things we can’t do without connecting to Sony’s servers, like Trophies. So everyone is like, ‘When will we be able to add Trophies?’
“And we have a guy who is in charge of translating everything into English and sending it to Sony, but it’s like, ‘Don’t you guys understand Japanese?’ At present we’re thinking we can release early next year if it passes Sony’s inspection… And if Sony says no, then I guess we’ll just find somewhere else to put it.”
Moderator: “So you’re waiting on approval.”
Light representative: “Yeah, waiting for Sony’s approval. If we put it on Steam or wherever, we could be selling it next week. But at the moment we have an agreement with Sony, so… We submitted it with this agreement and yet we’re waiting for approval… Pretty awful, right?”
Other Japanese titles have also seen the brunt of Sony’s recent decisions. Perhaps most notably, Senran Kagura Burst Re.Newal’s PS4 version saw the removal of the “Intimacy Mode”. We’ve also seen titles like Omega Labyrinth Z get outright banned in certain regions due to illicit content. Following content guidelines will always be a requirement for developers in some form, but Sony really seems hell-bent on ramping these requirements up.
MY TAKE: As someone who deals with bureaucracy on a daily basis as part of his work, I can understand the frustration that these Japanese developers are going though. It’s a bit worse for them though since the strange decision was made at Sony to require all appeals to be made in English. One could play devil’s advocate and say that “these devs should just hire a translator”, but that should never be a requirement to make content. While we’ve seen games censored in other regions for decades, it’s a bit disheartening to hear that Sony has decided to put a blanket policy in place for all of the content that it curates. Much like how Sony observed and reacted to the failures of its competitors this past generation, perhaps Nintendo can learn and react to the backlash that Sony is seeing from its fans in the wake of these decisions.
CensorshipLightSilverio Trinity: Beyond the HorizonSony