Censorship topic (out of the news thread)



  • @luka Are you sure? Their consoles aren't region locked, running multiple stores in a global marketplace is expensive and China has had historic bans on console gaming until recently. What other country could it be about?



  • @sazime Sony recently moved their head offices to California, where these changes started to occur. Shortly after this move is when the censorship started to become increasingly prominent, as well as the mandatory english content inspections from Japanese developers.

    http://blog.esuteru.com/archives/9212646.html

    This leads more to the idea that certain political/cultural ideologies are the driving force behind this issue, not trying to cater to an upcoming market (china).

    There was an excellent summarization of censorship on another site. Copied from an excellent GAF thread:


    Sony

    Saving the best for the last... Sony tried to cultivate their image, and how you can find on their systems content Nintendo and Sega would never allow... As it turns out however:

    • Has the least permissive policy out of all competitors during the PS1 (N64/Saturn/DreamCast) and PS2 (GameCube/Xbox) eras, regarding sexual content (JP/US). Examples include: Advanced V.G., Policenauts, Snatcher, BM XXX, Twisted Metal Black...

    • Similar to the above, but for violent content. For example: Linda Cube (uncensored on Saturn). (JP)

    • Some games can be rejected if deemed "not a good enough use of the hardware". That may extend to entire genres, and is determined at the pure discretion of Sony. 2D games were rejected in masse in the PS1 era and Japanese developers had to pull strings to have them approved (US), lot of vertical shumps were Xbox 360 exclusive because they didn't deserve to exist in the 16:9 age (JP, US), Ganbare Goemon PS2 was cancelled overseas over poor polygons (US), The Uncharted Vita game had to add double touch screen and IR camera gimmicks to be approved them those same features caused it to be blacklisted from PS-TV (US, JP), the Monster Hunter PSP-PS3 port made for English audiences that SCEA rejected because the models are too poor for a console game (US)...

    • According to SCEA, visual novels are not real games. This got a bunch of Sakura Taisen games cancelled.

    • How you can depict PS2 hardware in games (other platform holders have similar policies, but Sony's is the most restrictive)

    • If it's a Japanese game localized to Western markets, it can't have exclusively Japanese voice acting. This meant some games had to record an alternate shitty English dub by publisher's relatives just to be able to release it in the West.

    • Lewd or vulgar language. Applied selectively (Alundra PS1 got rejected then resubmitted, while Western games are allowed. Persona 5 has cut lines about prostitution replaced with euphemisms even in its Japanese version)

    • Whether it harms Sony's PR image. A blanket clause that was has started to see a lot of use recently.
      Sony has a separate, more extensive set of guidelines for their indie program, but I don't have the full details about that or notorious cases where they got enforced.

    Recently, there were very interesting developments.

    • PS VR launched in Japan, however some localization plans (for Namco's English Learning game) were cancelled, and devs mentioned conditions about restricted camera control by Sony.

    • After some internal restructuring, the HQ moved to a certain region in the US. Shortly after, some policy changes were immediately put into motion in the US AND Japan.

    • Super Seducer was approved and released. It passed Sony's approval checks, got a low enough rating, and was devoid by itself of any encouragement for "politically incorrect" actions, as they would lead to a game over, or any kind of sexual imagery. However, directly in response to gaming media complaining about the existence of a pick-up artist game in 2018 (as they should dating and self-help books should be made illegal, apparently) Sony retroactively pulled the game from its store after one day.

    • Omega Labyrinth Z: While rejected in a couple of European countries, its cancelled PS4 Western version was cleared by legal authorities in the US and approved by PEGI and ERSB for mature, not adult-only ratings. The decision is confirmed to come from Sony, the Western publisher is looking for ways to port it to Steam or other platforms, and the Japanese publisher is doing the next game in the series exclusively on Switch.

    • Nekopara Vol.1: Delayed indefinitely in the West for PS4 the same week as Omega Labyrinth Z. Already available on Steam. Fate of Volume 2 (announced for PS4 and Switch) unknown.

    • Senran Kagura Burst Re-Newal: Cleared by ERSB/PEGI, rejected by Sony who asked for specific parts of the game to be cut. Steam version unaffected. The cut content was allowed before.

    • Million Arthur VR: Shortly delayed to remove head patting

    • Happy Manager VR: Delayed for half a year, major changes from pre-release, most interactions with girls you meet releguated to a gallery mode that shows functional but not interactive VR, with some scenes in fixed camera.

    • Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart: A visual novel uncut on PC, covered with towels just enough to avoid frontal nudity for Switch, and covered with huge beams of light only leaving the head visible for the PS4/PSV versions.

    • Sugar Daddy, a homoerotic visual novel, was on the other hand approved by Sony.

    It seems there are multiple takes from this:

    • the rating boards are useless, now Sony is going to have their own ruleset for content violation just like Nintendo used to do when there were no rating boards

    • the ruleset has double standards, and isn't as predictable as in the PS1/2 days. It's not enforced in the same way on some Western developers for example

    • PS VR now disallows not only unrestricted camera (a CERO thing too) but a wide range of interactions with virtual obviously adult ladies (a rule unique to Sony that third parties are expected to get without clear messaging and act upon it... or just give up a certain genre or theme or consumer base)

    • All of the above is utterly meaningless when 5 or more game journalists start to write articles how your game shouldn't exist, then if Sony thinks you're disposable they will delist it without so much as a second thought, and all your expenses on that port go down the drain.



  • @luka Yeah, having them move an office to the porn capitol of the world influences censorship? I don't buy it.

    Game consoles being able to be sold in the largest game market in the world and the added cost of keeping up with multiple RCs? Much more likely.

    Money is the simplest answer to the changes, and the Chinese market is larger than the US market. We're ~25%, they're right up at 50% of the worldwide market.

    When you fight censorship in China, you fight the Chinese government, not a ratings board. Sony is making a business decision, as did Valve, as did Ubi. Is it a bad one? Yes. Will they change the policy? Maybe, Valve and Ubi did. But right now Sony is riding high on amazing revenues and first party games raking in cash. They don't need a third party creating a political problem with potentially 50% of their sales revenue.



  • @sazime We will see. They pissed off a great number of gamers in their home country, meanwhile Nintendo is more than accepting of these titles without needless censorship. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sony losing a good number of buyers early on in the next generation thanks to these changes.



  • @luka I get that, and I get the frustration, but regarding Nintendo: their games have Chinese specific releases that come out on a special, region specific Nvidia Shield. Nintendo has been region locking titles forever, and it made transitioning to China very simple for them when the console ban was lifted in 2015.



  • @luka I don't have a way or data to prove this, but I also find it hard to believe that they are pissing off a 'great' number of fans in Japan, this games are niche even for the japanese market (going by media crate numbers less than 100k sales), so it is a dedicated and vocal (just like in the west) but very minor fanbase that Sony may have seen as expendable, again I'm not basing this on data so if there's something to actually prove it is a bigger deal I'm willing to take this back.

    And completely agree with @Sazime , this is most likely a business decision, for some reason (honestly hadn't considered China but that is a fantastic point) Sony has determined that it is a better business decision to potentially alienate a niche market in favor of expanding markets or the possible PR cost, whether it will prove to be correct in that aspect I can't say right now, but the likelyhood that this is motivated by financial over ideological reasons sounds more likely to me, not to say the other may not be a factor at all, I just don't think it is the leading factor.



  • @hanabi the fact that they have the right to exist doesn't mean they have the right to be on the platform of their choosing without the platform holder approval though.

    As for the second part, I'm willing to admit that is mostly a subjective opinion and I'm not going to say the will of the majority has to be imposed over that of minorities, but this is something I personally see as a non issue and what has been lost as lacking in any value so from my personal stance I can't help but see it that way.



  • I'm living in germany and I will never understand why (especially in US) violence in media and guns / weapons in your neighbourhood are more accepted than some nudity and "sexual innuendo" including their representations in games.

    I mean... we all are nude under our clothes (it is the most natural thing there is) and sex (with a consenting adult partner or with yourself) is a very healthy and fun activity. An orgasm helps you sleep better, combats stress, lowers risk of prostate cancer, reduces risk of heart attacks, helps staying in shape or loosing weight, improves your skin, strengthens the immune system, relieves headaches (and helps with migraines).

    Somehow it is a taboo to talk about or showcase sexuality in any way? But violence and weapons (tools designed to hurt and kill people) are ok?

    That is just crazy to me...

    Have platform holders like Sony or Steam legally the "right" to limit or prohibit sexual content in media on their platform, resulting in developers have to censor their product? Sadly, yes... especially konsoles are closed systems and the platform holder has the ultimate power to allow or disallow any content he wants. I wish it was otherwise, but it isn't.

    Could these platform holders or the game industry instead implement a more effective (and needed) system for youth protection? Also, yes... but currently it is more cost effective (and socially accepted) for them to just censor games and government officials aren't interested either to "defend" or at least "regulate" the rights of developers to include sexual content in their games (while nobody cares about violence in games).

    All that doesn't mean, that there aren't some disgusting, sexist and / or degrading "sex games" and (due to the still mainly male audience) an overpresentation of female objectification in sexual content or that everybody has to like (and buy) games with sexual content. But there is also no real social discussion about these topics either, because the easy way is to just censor or prohibit sexual contents in games.

    At the moment this mainly affects sexual content in games. In the future it may include other controversial topics (see Youtube and their policies regarding not monetizing "undesirable" for example "political" topics).



  • So the Chinese Ethic board seems to be looking at some very popular games and not quite liking a lot in them, from what I understand this hasn't led to any actions yet, but it certainly seems like something that could have a big effect on decisions moving forward if these games do end banned or having to make changes, at least for the chinese market.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/a4w3ux/chinas_ethics_board_reviews_20_popular_online/



  • Really tough topic to tackle. My two cents is, like some others, I'm not familiar with the titles that are being censored so I'm personally not being effected too much. While those games don't interest me I don't think they should be banned or censored. However, if the platform doesn't want those games on their system that is their right to deny them or ask for them to be altered to be sold on their platform.

    If this pisses you off, let Sony know. Write them on twitter and anywhere else you can, don't buy their products. Buy products that do support your interest or support not censoring games. Also understand that not everyone is going to be as passionate about this as you may be. Others, I'd bet a large portion, won't see this as an issue, but I do think it's important to know that this is happening.



  • Censorship is never good, ever... Change my mind



  • @the_andredal

    But... but... those games that I never would buy offend me personally! Therefore they should be censored/banned! /s



  • @themarcv I've already abandoned Sony. I got Tetris Effect used solely because of these policies and I don't intend to pick up any future releases beyond that. If I do, it's going to be the same deal where I get it secondhand. My PS4 isn't even connected to the internet at this point.



  • if Sony continues this, i will switch to Xbox next generation



  • @hanabi

    And that's completely in your right to do. If this issue is where you draw the line, draw the line like you have. I would even tell Sony that these choices have made you no longer want their products. The only thing that is kind of collateral damage is the devs of the games you buy used. They had no say in what Sony does/doesn't allow but you buying their game used basically means they get nothing from your purchase,however that is just how this industry is right now.



  • @the_andredal

    If that's the breaking point for you, you should. Just curious, would this stance be because you personally were looking forward to the games that are being censored or just on the general principle.

    This issue for me hasn't gotten anywhere near the point were I'm wiling to boycott the system (I honestly just love their first party stuff too much) but I wonder where others fall. I don't like censorship but the honest truth for me is that it'd have to get really bad before I'd be willing to boycott the system. Like I stated before, I don't like censorship but I also feel like if a company doesn't want to carry a title or will only carry it if things are censored that's in their rights. I didn't like the no blood in MK for SNES, but I still played and bought SNES games.



  • It's the principle of censorship. I stood with Sony because of the anti consumer stuff MS did with the start of Xbox's last generation. I am willing to think of the idea if they continue this path. Because last time they got cocky, we got the PS3 that was overpriced and way too complicated console for devs



  • @the_andredal Mhm. Microsoft and Nintendo have been making the right moves, while Sony has been routinely fucking up - hard. I refuse to buy any PS game new, unless the game has zero censorship. The next console will probably be a year+ wait once it releases, unless Sony reverts these asinine changes.



  • @luka
    Well that change petition I posted (or I think I posted here) said they would have some Skype discussion with the person behind these policies, and I think they are going to stream it



  • @dmcmaster I must have missed that. Got another link? Would love to see that live.