More Details: Sony Reportedly Telling Its Game Studios Not To Comment On Abortion Issue

from the shhhhh dept

We had just discussed PlayStation Boss Jim Ryan’s somewhat bizarre email to his staff in the wake of the leaked SCOTUS draft opinion that signaled an end to Roe v. Wade being the law of the land. What started off as a reasonable request to respect the spectrum of opinions on a contentious social issue then devolved into an email largely about Ryan’s cats and his affinity for dogs. Yes, seriously.

Part of what made it odd was that Bungie, a company currently being acquired by Sony, had put out a statement that very much took a stance on the issue, as well as one that promised to have the backs of any staff member impacted by a change in the law. So how does that statement jive with Sony’s policy?

Well, we’re getting a peek at that policy now, with another Sony studio, Insomnia, telling its staff just how all of this will work. Spoiler alert: Sony will silently support abortion rights, but insists on that silent part on its own behalf and that of its studios.

On the support side of things:

Ratchet & Clank and Spider-Man developer Insomniac Games has made a $50,000 donation to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), and its parent company, Sony, will reportedly match that number. But those donations come amid public silence from both companies on the contentious issue and reports of internal drama surrounding a response to the Supreme Court’s reported efforts to overturn 1973’s Roe v. Wade precedent.

So there you are. Sony is matching its subsidiary’s donation to an organization dedicated to protecting abortion rights for women. It is also planning to reimburse any costs for its staff should they need to travel outside their state to get an abortion. That either indicates Sony has a side it’s picked on this issue or it is at least going to support its staff’s wishes. This is not, in other words, inaction or neutrality.

But Sony doesn’t seem to want the public to know what it’s doing. This comes from what Insomniac’s CEO Ted Price sent to his staff in an email.

Price’s email also reportedly detailed how Sony “will not approve ANY statements from any studio on the topic of reproductive rights.” That’s despite Insomniac sending nearly 60 pages of employee messages to PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst asking the company to “do better by employees who are directly affected” by any pending abortion decision. “We fought hard for this and we did not win,” Price wrote.

Price went on to address the sometimes awkward parent-child corporate relationship that has developed since Sony acquired Insomniac in 2019. “As far as our freedom of speech goes, while we do have a LOT of autonomy that often gets taken for granted, there are times where we need to acknowledge we’re part of a larger organization,” Price reportedly wrote. “For the most part, our ability to tweet has been unfettered. However, there are rare times when we’re in opposition (like this week) and [Sony] will have the final say.”

Look, Sony can do this. And, again, this is not a post about the abortion question. The problem here is that Sony really should know better than to think it can muzzle its employees in 2022 without the public becoming aware of that muzzling. It hasn’t been weeks and this news is already out in the wild.

And the end result of it is really dumb. The anti-abortion crowd is going to hate Sony for supporting its staff as it did. And the pro-abortion crowd is going to hate Sony for trying to be the Switzerland of video game companies on this particular issue.

Wouldn’t it just be easier to let studios and staff tweet what they like?

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Companies: bungie, insomniac games, sony

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Comments on “More Details: Sony Reportedly Telling Its Game Studios Not To Comment On Abortion Issue”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'We already screwed that up once, we're not doing that again'

To be fair maybe they’re just trying to avoid another faceplant of an email, in their place after having one exec open his mouth and eat an entire store’s worth of shoes they might just be trying to not have that happen again.

Sarcasm aside whoever made this choice really needs to talk to a competent PR team, because at first glance it looks like they have chosen the worst possible way to address this by trying to have it both ways. Either make public your support for women’s rights or make public your opposition to them, as the final paragraph notes trying to stay silent while offering support in the background is just going to come off poorly to everyone.

Anonymous Coward says:


I would not trust anyone at Sony Interactive to even hire a competent PR company without fucking up, firstly, the recruitment, contract and other related HR nonsense.

This is the company that has been, at least under Jim Ryan, a hot, incompetent mess, and I’m not just talking about that one security breach.

Anonymous Coward says:


A video game company that, according to gamers, is so “woke” they censor Japanese games and force Japanese devs to fill in forms in ENGLISH.

(Note to anyone reading this: This is less of a sign of their politics and more likely, a sign of them clearly being so incompetent they don’t know HOW to run an inteenational megacorp division.)

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:

No one is forcing women to give consent to sex, get pregnant, then kill the new life growing inside them

And how about those women who where forced through rape to become pregnant?

Roe vs wade turned women from “baby incubators” to cold blooded murderers

And you turn to a murderer the moment you force a woman to give birth where it is known that the woman and/or the child will not survive.

I have a suggestion, if you want to ban women from being able to have abortions – YOU then take financial and parental responsibility for the children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No one is forcing women to give consent to sex, get pregnant, then kill the new life growing inside them

Oh go fuck right off with that horseshit! No women would get pregnant if it weren’t for men, asshole.

I’d be prepared to buckle right the fuck up if you’re a man in one of those states. Because if the woman is unable to choose to abort, I don’t see why the other half of the pregnancy should not have to pay half.

All the way until the child is 18…good luck fella!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Got a quick hypothetical for you: Someone is in dire need of blood and I’m the only donor available in time. I agree to donate blood. Before the transfusion/donation can take place however I change my mind(for whatever reason) and revoke my consent and as a result of my refusal to donate blood the other person dies.

Now for the millions dollar, yes or no question: Should I be treated and tried as a murderer?

Michael says:


I’ll believe that Republicans truly give a shit about dead babies as soon as Red states like Mississippi decide to do something about their 3rd World infant mortality rate (the highest among all US states).

Clearly, babies only matter until they’re born.

Clearly, the entire “pro-life” movement is entirely performative.

Anon says:

Keep in mind...

Sony is Japanese. In the 60’s when abortion was illegal and flying cost serious bucks, the story goes that the rich could get abortions by flying to Japan where there were no such restrictions – since it was not a Christian country and had no such hang-ups.

If you read Akio Morita’s biography, Sony at first never worried about the details of things like PR or market research. they built what the brass thought would sell and often they were right. So PR is an afterthought for the top brass.

Anonymous Coward says:

Americans have free speech, Sony should allow
studios to tweet what they like, and maybe hire some pr
The important thing is they will support employees to travel while they have the operation
I think most Japanese games are censored or localised as many games feature sexual content that would seem strange to western gamers.
I suppose every large company in America is going to think about its policy Re abortion and whether it intends to supports its female employees in the future

nasch (profile) says:

Do or say

If I had to choose between a company tweeting about an issue or doing something about it to try to make peoples’ lives better, I’d take B every time. I don’t think this is particularly controversial personally. Sony is clearly signaling where they stand on the issue by supporting people who need abortions. Why is a PR statement necessary or helpful? Don’t we complain about useless PR statements from companies on social issues? Let them shut up and try to do some good.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


Sony is clearly signaling where they stand on the issue by supporting people who need abortions. Why is a PR statement necessary or helpful?

Because politicians and lawmakers pay attention to such statements⁠—especially if said politicians/lawmakers see corporations getting more positive press and popular support than negative press and popular opposition over expressed support for abortion rights. Actions may speak louder than words, but words still have a power of their own.

Anonymous Coward says:


Sony is clearly signaling where they stand on the issue by supporting people who need abortions.

Firstly, until they actually do the thing, it is hot air. Has Sony Interactive actually matched Insomniac Games’ donation and given that amount to the charity Insomniac Games donated to?

Secondly, how sure are we this isn’t a PR stunt to appease Insomniac Games? This sort of thing is sadly, a common thing for corps to do.

This isn’t me questioning the act itself. That’s always good. I’m questioning Sony Interactive’s intent in doing so, because, for fuck’s sake, this isn’t as altruistic as some people might make it out to be.

Corps NEVER do anything they can’t profit or benefit from.

Anonymous Coward says:


First off, the First Amendment controls what the government can and cannot do to you as a private citizen. Meaning, unless you’re stupid enough to, let’s say, endorse insuresction or make increasingly detailed threats on how you would murder a person, or, in at least one case on this site that got the FBI’s attention, mention about how a sitting President should be removed, the government cannot forcibly muzzle you via ANY means. And ethically, not use loopholes available to them to shut you up. (Sadly, these Congresscritters still try to use these loopholes. Keyword being try.)

Secondly, yes, the right to hold your tongue is implied in that. Silence is also speech.

Thirdly, I hope you said that as a hypothetical and not as a veiled threat.

migi (profile) says:

"pro-abortion crowd"

“pro-abortion crowd”

Being pro-abortion would mean being in favour of terminating pregnancies that are both wanted and not harmful to the mother’s health. No-one is in favour of that position.

The correct term is “pro-choice”.

The pro-choice position is that the mother should be able to choose whether or not to have an abortion. The state should not make that decision by making abortions illegal, nor mandatory.

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