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A seemingly new shift in Sony policy has resulted in excessive censoring of Japanese visual novels on PlayStation 4

Recently there has been a heated discussion in the Japanese gaming community on how ports of visual novels on the PlayStation 4 have been getting excessively censored. One such example that just recently sprung up is the PS4 version of HARUKAZE's Nora, Princess, and Stray Cat which was recently released along with a Nintendo Switch version on October 25 in Japan.

The notable point here is that while the Nintendo Switch version is not really changed when compared to last year's PlayStation Vita release, the PS4 version is heavily edited, censoring many illustrations with excessive light rays; even lingerie and swimsuits are also subject to additional PS4 changes, which arguably end up making the illustrations appear lewder than originally intended. While the Vita release was edited slightly from the original PC version, the PlayStation 4 edition seems to have gone further beyond that. Since the Vita version only released in 2017, a year after the original PC versions 2016 release, this suggests a rather recent shift in Sony policy.

A Japanese Twitter user @uitachibana has made a number of comparisons between the original PC version, the comparable PS Vita & Nintendo Switch versions, and the excessively censored PS4 version of Nora, Princess, and Stray Cat. Please be advised though that the tweets linked above are NSFW.

The edited image present on the PlayStation 4 version of Nora, Princess, and Stray Cat.

Another visual novel maker has also revealed Sony's new stance towards ports of Japanese PC visual novels. Michisato Hattori, the president of visual novel publisher 'light', famous for its Dies Irae series, revealed during the company's Happy light Cafe streaming program on Niconico Live that 'light' is currently applying for a port of Silverio Trinity, another visual novel of theirs, to get an approval by Sony. This PS4 port of this title has allegedly already gone gold for a while now but is waiting to be approved and connected with Sony's server for trophy integration.

However, Hattori noted that "Sony seems to have gone a direction where they cannot do ports of R-18 games globally," which in turn, has affected the approval process of 'light's upcoming port of an originally R-18 PC game. He confirmed that 'light' also received a related questionnaire from Sony that needs to be replied with written English, a seemingly new practice.

Right now the team has a staff who is currently translating their answers from Japanese to English. But even if the release does get approved by Sony, the earliest they can release this port would be early 2019, whereas Hattori-san noted that they could have released it as early as next week had they went to other platforms like Steam first.

This recent change in Sony's policy is a clear departure from their historical precedent when visual novel ports could be released with only mild censoring on prior PlayStation consoles, as evidenced by the differences present in the Vita and PS4 versions of Nora, Princess, and Stray Cat shared above. This was also a point of debate in our previous Tetracast episode, especially when it comes to how this shift may disproportionately affect smaller publishers. We will share more details if Sony decides to clarify or give new reasoning for these changes. 

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