In a recent interview, Sony revealed officially for the first time that they do have separate internal content guidelines that developers must follow in order to get their games approved for PlayStation 4. [Thanks, WSJ!]
According to a Sony spokeswoman, the guidelines are there “so that creators can offer well-balanced content on the platform” and so that gaming “does not inhibit the sound growth and development” of kids. As for what the guidelines actually entail, Sony declined to comment.
This statement was further verified by various US, European, and Japanese developers, with some discontented with the shift. However, the developers remained anonymous thanks to non-disclosure agreements with Sony.
One particular factor as to why Japanese games seem targeted is because Sony is worried that their reputation could take a hit from explicit content. Two major factors for the change was identified – the rise of the #MeToo movement, and the rise of streaming, where more viewers might get exposed to Japan’s more lax standards towards fictional sexuality. This could potentially lead to legal repercussions, said Sony.
That said, Sony isn’t making clear to developers where the line in the sand is being drawn. Several software developers lamented that there weren’t clear written guidelines, and talked about how costly it was to send it out, only for it to be rejected to make several minor changes.