It seems we are seeing a changing of times when it comes to gamers understanding what to expect from console maker and first-party publishers. Ask any gamer with some knowledge of the industry and they’ll admit that the Sony PlayStation is home to some fairly lewd and niche titles created by Japanese developers, or at least it was. Based on recent actions, it seems that the company is taking a step back from being associated with this type of content, in the western market anyways.
With multiple reports coming from western publishers that they were asked to either cancel their title or patch out content from a game, we are seeing what gamers would have associated Nintendo with only a couple years ago. What’s interesting about this whole situation is that it seems Nintendo has also changed their policy to allow more mature content to be released outside of Japan.
This new initiative from Sony first came up earlier this year when western publisher PQube announced that Omega Labyrinth Z will be canceled in the west. In a statement released by the company, they stated that this was made to “respectfully comply with the wishes of the platform holder”. Western fans awaiting the title were confused by this statement, but most assumed that it would just be a one-time thing due to how distasteful the content in the game was.
However, this wouldn’t be the case because Sony America and Europe have doubled down on their stance by asking western publisher XSEED to patch content out of their upcoming PlayStation 4 and PC title Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal, a series that has received multiple entries released on Sony consoles. For those that are keeping up, this business move puts Sony more in line with what one would expect from Nintendo, who is known for altering content for the western release of their published titles.
The content that would be removed from Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is a portion of the dressing room scene where players can interact with the girls or spray water on them. Amazingly, this feature was present in the series’ most recent release, Senran Kagura Reflexions, which is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. This content patch was created at the request of Sony which means that this feature still remains on the PC version of the game so western players who want this still have the option to play it, but I’m not sure this new direction from Sony is the right one to make.
Sure, the content being addressed is often perverted and unnecessary at times, but it’s also optional and alternatively, if someone doesn’t like it then they don’t have to play it. It sucks that Sony is putting publishers in the position to “tone down” their line-up of games in order for the company to release their titles. After speaking with industry developers who work on or publish these types of games, it’s strange to hear that Nintendo has been supportive of this content, such as with games like Gal Gun 2 by publisher Inti Creates. Could this be Nintendo’s new direction to appeal to all types of gamers? I think it’s okay to assume this and I don’t think this is the last we will see of these niche titles appearing on the Switch.
There’s definitely a switch, for lack of a better word, in this industry happening. As Sony focuses on higher budget narrative-driven stories in the west, Nintendo will keep alive the niche gamer who just wants to play silly fun games and high budget first-party RPGs, something Sony hasn’t supported since 2014’s Freedom Planet on PlayStation Vita.
With that said, I’m curious to see how Japanese developers respond to this new Sony. The reasons why we didn’t see many of these types of games on Nintendo consoles was because the company just didn’t allow it. Now, we have Japanese developers like Inti Creates speaking candidly about how open they were about bringing their lewd rail-shooter Gal Gun 2 to the Switch.
Whether these games are your cup of tea or not, I don’t think it’s fair to have something that people put time, effort, and a lot of money into creating only to have it be turned away because they didn’t like the content. On top of that to have these small western publishers begin localization on a title after announcing it only to force them to cease production.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s Sony’s hardware and they are in their full right to make these decisions, but I think in the long run it will not only hurt their diverse selection of games but also their partnership with Japanese companies. Remember the canceled Omega Labyrinth Z? Well, developed D3 Publisher announced a sequel, Omega Labyrinth Life, exclusive for the Nintendo Switch.
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