A lack of game announcements and releases hasn't stopped PlayStation from finding itself in the center of news lately. May seems to be all about Sony saying all of the wrong things, even when its studios want to speak out for what's right. The gender discrimination lawsuit against Sony, which was dismissed last month, is also back in a new form. Between that and Norman Reedus possibly leaking Death Stranding 2, it hasn't been a good month for PlayStation.
However, we also got a good look at PlayStation's plans over the next few years ahead of a State of Play on June 2. Let's take a look.
PlayStation does not know how to handle Roe v. Wade
PlayStation's Jim Ryan could have said a lot about the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade in America, and somehow he ended up saying the absolute wrong thing in an email to employees. According to Bloomberg, Ryan told staff to that "we owe it to each other and to PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences of opinion among everyone in our internal and external communities. Respect does not equal agreement. But it is fundamental to who we are as a company and as a valued global brand.”
He then decided, for whatever reason, to "lighten the mood" by talking about his cats' birthdays and how his family wants to get a dog. If there was ever a case of failing to read the room and being completely tone-deaf, it's this.
After the uproar on social media, Insomniac decide to donate $50,000 to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), with Sony allegedly planning to match the donation, according to the Washington Post. Interestingly, Sony has allegedly forbade its studios and employees from speaking about the matter publicly.
In an internal email, Insomniac founder Ted Price told employees, "[Sony Interactive Entertainment] will not approve ANY statements from any studio on the topic of reproductive rights. We fought hard for this and we did not win.”
Good on Insomniac for doing what's right. PlayStation? Do better.
...But Bungie does know what to say
Kudos to Bungie for taking a stand. After the leaked Supreme Court draft that indicated there was enough support to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that protects women's privacy and their right to choose to have an abortion without government interference, Bungie came out swinging with a statement on its website that left no room for argument.
"At Bungie we believe that everyone has a right to choose their own path and that freedom is expressed across all facets of life. The leaked draft decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade represents a blow to freedom in America and is a direct attack on human rights.
"By creating a divide between those who possess the fundamental right to make healthcare decisions that are right for them, and those who do not possess that same freedom, this decision, should it become final, will have far-reaching consequences that will be felt for generations across socio-economic lines."
Though Bungie was acquired by Sony, the acquisition hasn't been finalized, which means it's likely not under any order from Sony not to speak up publicly.
For those worried this might change when the acquisition is complete, Bungie senior community manager dmg04 said on Twitter, "I'm confident in the following: we are, and will continue to be, Bungie. There will never be a 'muzzle' big enough to stop us from standing up for what's right." To which Bungie CEO Pete Parsons simply responded, "Yes."
Continuing to lead by example, Bungie spoke out again this month after a white man drove to a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., and killed 10 people out shopping for groceries. While PlayStation continues to stay silent, Bungie had a statement.
"Bungie and the Black at Bungie inclusion club have worked together to respond to this tragedy. We are currently showing our “Be Heard” Pin on the front page of the Bungie Store. Starting today, and for at least one year, all profits from this pin will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a charity whose work includes monitoring hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States and exposing their activities to the public, the media, and law enforcement. In addition, our studio is committed to supporting the success of our ID&E initiatives for 2022 and beyond. We understand the fight for equality and equity is not easily won but is a constant effort by all people."
Bungie's going two for two this month 👏
Norman Reedus accidentally reveals Death Stranding 2
It's the time of the year formerly known as E3 season, now taken over by Summer Game Fest, and that means it's time for actors to start accidentally revealing unannounced games in interviews. Norman Reedus evidently didn't get the memo that this is something he shouldn't do, because he seemingly confirmed Death Stranding 2, stating "we just started the second one."
"It took me maybe two or three years to finish all the MoCap sessions and everything. It takes a lot of work," Reedus told LEO Edit. "And then the game came out, and it just won all these awards, and it was a huge thing, so we just started part two of that."
As busy as this time of year can be, I honestly love waking up to random leaks like this. I can't help but be amused at the whole situation.
Sony hit with second gender discrimination lawsuit
Back in April, Emma Majo's class-action lawsuit against Sony was dismissed by a federal judge as it lacked specifics regarding the case. The lawsuit, which saw at least eight other former employees come forward, alleged that Sony "tolerates and cultivates a work environment that discriminates against female employees." Majo has now filed another lawsuit against the company, this time pursuing it in California.
According to Axios, this new lawsuit is much narrower in scope, only seeking damages for women who worked at PlayStation's California offices and only those below a vice president level within the company.
"Because of Sony’s systemic pattern and practice of gender discrimination, the plaintiff and members of the proposed class have suffered harm including lost compensation, back pay, employment benefits, and emotional distress."
Hopefully, this one doesn't get dismissed out of court.
God of War Ragnarok will have a suite of accessibility options
PlayStation Studios has worked hard over the years to keep in mind accessibility options at the very beginning of production, often leading to games like The Last of Us Part 2, which had some of the best accessibility features in the business. That trend is set to continue in God of War Ragnarok.
The company recently revealed that Ragnarok would have over 60 accessibility options, some of which build upon those in previous first-party titles.
Sony detailed these features in a blog post, and they range from subtitle and caption improvements to controller remapping and traversal assistance. Sony Santa Monica notes that there are more to come with "combat/aim assists, puzzle/minigame assists, HUD adjustments, camera tuning, auto pick up, and much more."
It's easy for accessibility discussions to devolve into arguments surrounding "easy modes" in games, but this is a great reminder that there is much more to accessibility than that. Nothing is ever one size fits all so giving players more customization options is better for everyone.
PlayStation Studios looks to grow with mobile, live service, and VR
During Sony's latest investor presentation, the company reiterated its commitment to mobile and live service titles, planning to invest more heavily in them in the coming years. This should come as no surprise considering its investment in Bungie and previous comments about its desire to bring its AAA franchises to mobile devices.
This expansion doesn't mean it's getting rid of its console division. Sony just realizes that it can't put all of its eggs into one basket, and there's plenty of money to be made in the mobile and live service space.
PlayStation CEO CEO Jim Ryan also shared that PS VR2, Sony's next-gen virtual reality system for the PS5, will launch with over 20 games. These are expected to be a mix of first- and third-party titles. So far we know that PlayStation is working on Horizon: Call of the Mountain, a spin-off to Guerrilla's popular Horizon series. We expect to have a better idea of what's to come after June's State of Play.
PlayStation Productions picks up with projects based on Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, and Gran Turismo
In addition to shows based on The Last of Us and Twisted Metal, PlayStation Productions is very busy mining its IP for the small screen. Sony revealed in its investors meeting that TV adaptations of Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War are in the works, along with a Gran Turismo movie. It looks like Netflix will be the home of Horizon while God of War goes to Amazon. We don't know anything about the Gran Turismo film, but the company is eyeing District 9's Neill Blomkamp to direct.
Personally, I trust Netflix with Horizon given its track record with The Witcher, Castlevania, and Arcane, but it will be interesting to see whether it ends up being animated or live-action. God of War could also turn out really well if done right, especially if it adapts the latest Norse saga. Gran Turismo is one I'm not too sure about. Something like the Fast & Furious franchise could be cool, but I'm not too keen on anything like a hardcore drama.
Gotham Knights skips PS4 while The Callisto Protocol goes last-gen
It's been a weird couple of years with cross-generation releases, especially in Sony's case, but now it seems that even third-party developers are looking to leave the PS4 behind.
Gotham Knights was originally announced for both PS5 and PS4. However, Warner Bros. Interactive revealed that the last-generation versions on PS4 and Xbox One had been canceled. When Gotham Knights arrives on Oct. 25, 2022, it will land on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC only.
Given that supply constraints are still limiting the amount of PS5 consoles out in the wild, this was likely a difficult decision to make, In the end, I think it was the right one. I want to see games start to take full advantage of newer hardware, and it's difficult to maintain parity when the PS4 is aging.
That's not to say that PS4 games perform or look bad; just that it's about time we leave that generation behind.
On the flip side, The Callisto Protocol seems to be taking the opposite approach. Though it was announced as a current-gen title for PS5 and Xbox Series X, it looks like it will release for PS4 and Xbox One after all. I don't necessarily think this is the way to go, but this should expand its market, seeing as it's a more niche horror game.
Sony needs to get its act together
I'd usually take this time to talk about the possible game announcements we'll be seeing over the summer, but I can't get over my disappointment in Sony lately. Nothing to do with its games — I'm still looking forward to God of War Ragnarok — PlayStation just needs to step up, take responsibility for its actions, and speak out for what's right. Silencing its studios and sweeping accusations under the rug is not it.
That being said, we also don't know much about what to expect in terms of reveals this summer so stay tuned.
– Jennifer Locke
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Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.