Six of Sony's internal game development studios have issued public messages of support for abortion rights and condemnations of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday. It's a notable shift for PlayStation, after Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told staff in May to "respect differences of opinion" on reproductive rights following POLITICO's disclosure of details from a leaked draft opinion in early May.
The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog and God of War developer Santa Monica Studio issued public messages via corporate Twitter accounts both supporting abortion rights and pledging to provide assistance to employees to support out-of-state medical needs. Spider-Man developer Insomniac Games, Days Gone developer Bend Studio, Horizon Zero Dawn studio Guerilla Games and Ghost of Tsushima creator Sucker Punch Productions all posted general messages of support for abortion rights as well.
The game industry has been largely silent on the issue of abortion rights over the past month and a half, despite countless studios and publishers issuing statements of support and donating to various causes over the past few years, ranging from Black Lives Matter to anti-Asian hate. One of the first and only developers to speak out for reproductive rights was Destiny developer Bungie, which is in the process of being acquired by Sony. (Bungie also reiterated its support in a blog post on Friday and said it is now "implementing a travel reimbursement program for any employee to use when they or a dependent cannot get access to the healthcare they need where they live.")
No other major studios with the exception of Microsoft-owned Double Fine spoke up in similar fashion. And despite Bungie's statement, Sony reportedly prohibited its internal studios from making similar statements following Ryan's email to staff.
Either that policy has changed given Friday's news, or the studios have chosen to defy Sony headquarters.
"We believe that bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom are fundamental human rights," wrote Santa Monica Studios on Twitter earlier Friday. Naughty Dog Co-president Neil Druckmann also posted a screenshot to his account showing a $10,000 donation to NARAL and thanked Sony for matching his donation, indicating Sony may now have a company-wide policy in place for matching donations to abortion rights groups.
Insomniac's public statement may be the most noteworthy, however, because its chief executive explicitly told employees in May that Sony was prohibiting them from speaking out about the issue, according to a report from The Washington Post. “[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," Insomniac CEO Ted Price told employees in an email last month.
In a separate response to employees, Price said there would be "material repercussions for us as a wholly owned subsidiary" if Insomniac or its employees tweeted support for abortion rights or disclosed a $50,000 donation Sony permitted the studio to make to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project. "Among other things, any progress that we might make in helping change [Sony Interactive Entertainment’s] approach would be stopped dead in its tracks. We’d also probably be severely restricted from doing important public-facing work in the future," Price wrote at the time.
Now, Insomniac is speaking up. "We are human beings who make games," the studio wrote in a tweeted image. "Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are human rights."