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?