Following a controversial email last week, in which PlayStation boss Jim Ryan asked staff To “respect differences of opinion” on abortion rights, a new report has claimed that Sony is currently refusing to endorse any statements its PlayStation studios may want to make on the subject of reproductive rights in response to the proposed US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade decision, with Insomniac chief Ted Price going so far as to tell staff he believed there would be ‘material repercussions’ if it did went against Sony’s wishes.
According to a new Washington Post reportdeveloper of Spider-Man and Ratchet & Clank Insomniac, which was acquired by Sony in 2020had made the decision to donate US$50,000 to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP) following the United States Supreme Court’s recent proposal to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark judgment that legalized the across the country – a donation that Sony has agreed to match, along with any additional staff donations, through the company’s “PlayStation Cares” program.
However, according to the Washington Post, Sony will not allow any public statements Insomniac may want to make about reproductive rights or its donation, and staff have been expressly prohibited from mentioning Sony or Insomniac in any retweets if the WRRAP chooses to make a donation announcement. “[Sony Interactive Entertainment] will not endorse ANY statement from any studio on the subject of reproductive rights,” Insomniac executive Ted Price told studio employees in an email dated May 13. “We fought hard for this. and we didn’t win.”
Price was responding to earlier demands from Insomniac employees that management make a public statement in support of women’s reproductive rights similar to those shared Bungie, developer of Destiny 2 and The creator of Psychonauts 2 Double Finefollowing recent news from the United States Supreme Court.
Price then warned staff that he believed “there would be significant repercussions for us as a wholly owned subsidiary” if the studio chose to go against Sony’s wishes. “Among other things, any progress we might make to help change [Sony Interactive Entertainment’s] approach would be stopped dead in its tracks,” he explained. “We would also likely be severely restricted from doing important work for the public in the future.
Price’s reference to helping change Sony’s approach appears to relate to an “almost 60-page” document Insomniac allegedly submitted to PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst following the controversial email. by Jim Ryan. The document allegedly contained messages from Insomniac employees urging PlayStation executives – Ryan, in particular – to “do better with the employees who are directly affected”.
Ryan sparked considerable anger last week when, after referencing the United States Supreme Court’s recent proposal to overturn Row v Wade in an email to all staff, employees were say, “We owe it to each other and to the millions of PlayStation users to respect the differences of opinion between everyone in our internal and external communities.” Ryan then reportedly wrote at length about his cats’ birthdays, leading some employees to accuse the PlayStation boss of being disrespectful and trivializing the issue of reproductive rights in posts seen by Bloomberg.
“As far as our freedom of expression,” Price continued in response to an employee question asking whether Sony’s acquisition of Insomniac now impacts the studio’s values, “while we have A LOT autonomy that is often taken for granted, there are times when we need to recognize that we are part of a larger organization. For the most part, our ability to tweet has been unhindered. However, there are rare times where we are in opposition (like this week) and SIE will have the last word.”
While Sony is seemingly unwavering in its refusal to make any public statements regarding reproductive rights, The Washington Post reports that the company is more accommodating behind the scenes. It says Sony is developing an initiative with Insomniac to provide financial assistance to any employee who may need to travel to another state to receive reproductive care.
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