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Sony’s censorship of Japanese games is the beginning of a self-inflicted wound

In recent months, Sony of America has been tightening its grip on the content making its way into games.

If you’re a fan of the more scandalous anime games out there, you’ve probably heard of Senran Kagura. If you haven’t, Senran Kagura is a hack and slash style game where you’ll see plenty of well endowed anime girls in some more than revealing outfits.

The game’s sexual nature is, obviously, one of its biggest selling points, and the game’s producer, Kenichiro Takaki, knows it. If you purchased the “Let’s Get Physical” version of Senran Kagura, Shinovi Versus for PS Vita, included was a special message from Kenichiro himself.

The Senran Kagura series will continue to run non-stop.
That is the calling of a NINJA.
They run faster and jump higher than anyone.
They can easily jump over people’s expectations.

These games still have the potential to grow big and large.
Just like the girls’ chests.

Tits are life, ass is hometown

Of course, this light-hearted message was all in good humor. However, in the West many take issue with the sexualization of video games characters, even if its not meant to be taken seriously.

One of the many who take issue with sexual content in video games is Sony. Sony’s strict censorship rules caused issue with the upcoming Senran Kagura: 7even’s development to the point where Kenichiro had to make a statement about the game’s unavoidable upcoming censorship.

“Lately, regulations regarding sexual depictions have become more strict around the world, and for this reason, we need to make sure there isn’t any misunderstandings in what we make. There are some parts that are difficult to work with, likely more so than we’ve ever experienced. That being said, I think it’ll take some time…

At the moment, we’re thinking about getting things done somehow, and exactly how we’ll be getting it done, and so forth”

At first, it may only seem like this censorship involves the most raunchy of games, but Sony of America has reached into censoring even the slightest glimpses of anything more than a woman’s ankles.

The recently released Devil May Cry 5 features a couple short scenes where you can see a female ass. (gasp!) Xbox One, PC, and Japanese versions of the PS4 release saw the game normally for the most part, while the Western PS4 version saw some well placed lens flares to cover some skin.

While the censorship here definitely doesn’t impact the game in any way other than making this scene look a little silly, it does bring into question the point of censoring the game in the first place.

Devil May Cry 5 holds an M rating, meaning to buy the game you must be 17 years or older in the States. In theory, this blocks kids from playing a game meant for adults. Of course, we all know that there a million and one ways to buy the game at any age, but that shouldn’t affect the content of the game at hand. According to Sony though, those kids who aren’t even supposed to play the game have to be “protected” from the content within the game.

“…we have to think about what might be unpleasant for children and shield them from those things…”

These strong anti-sexualization standards held by Sony of America are also seemingly, strangely enough, only being applied to games with a Japanese developer.

As looked at earlier, Senran Kagura is being censored in the West due to Sony of America’s policies forbidding heavy fan service, but games such as Metro Exodus are fully uncensored on the PS4 platform. Metro Exodus features a full strip club with topless dancers.

The censorship could be an attempt to pander to Western standards as sexualizing women is a much more touchy subject in the West, and especially in the US. The problem though is that the people Sony is attempting to pander towards don’t play these games. They don’t determine the sales numbers of these games. IGN isn’t going to write a front page article about a vague game like Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart. It’s a strange policy to take since it only damages a loyal fan base that Sony had entirely to themselves, and as you’ll start to see Sony is specifically targeting Japanese-made games.

Now we are seeing many of the Japanese game series normally released only on Sony systems being released on Xbox and Nintendo Switch instead of PlayStation, and if a developer still wishes that their game releases on Sony’s PlayStation console then they will have to censor their game (just as we see in Senran Kagura).

Because games are jumping ship to Nintendo and Xbox, the damage to this category of game is being controlled. PC will also always be there for truly uncensored games.

Sony’s continued censorship though could end up hurting mature games in general. Games with even the smallest amount of sexual content, like the aforementioned Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart, are being forced to go for the giant lens flair treatment despite the fact that the most you’ll see in the game is a girl’s underwear.

Sony’s censorship doesn’t only seem to be targeting Japanese developers who release games in the West, but the censorship is making its way overseas and influencing games release in Japan.

Sony’s strict standards led to the cancellation of Omega Labyrinth Z in the West. The game was set to have a release in 2015, but was ultimately canceled due to the publisher, PQube, deciding that Sony’s intervention would have compromised the game’s vision.

Now in 2019, the game is finally making its way to the West. It’s been renamed to Omega Labyrinth Life and is releasing on Nintendo Switch instead of PlayStation 4 or PS Vita.

When developer Light spoke about its game titled Silverio Trinity on a NicoNico stream, they mentioned that, “Sony seems to be moving toward disallowing ports of ages 18 and up titles worldwide.” Silverio Trinity is rated 18+ in Japan, but its US version saw a strange delay due to a “strict inspection” via Sony.

Apparently the process is extremely painful for Japanese developers as Light said that all questions asked to them about Silverio Light were in English and needed to go through a translator.

Obviously these games aren’t for everyone, but they do have a massive audience. That audience is being shoved aside by Sony to try and appeal to the people who don’t care about these games. It’s a strange move that says a lot about our current culture and the differences between Western and Eastern cultures.

Games are being censored for revealing women’s underwear, but games that show off extreme violence are good to go without alteration in the West. It’s a strange stance to take, and while I wish that games wouldn’t be censored at all, it seems that the Japanese company wants to cripple one of its strongest exclusive assets. These types of Japanese games. Over time, we may start seeing more and more Japanese developers decide to move platforms. While Sony may be known for these types of games, forced censorship could eventually kill off the genre for the platform while growing it for Sony’s competitors.

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