News: Sony Cancels Japan

Sony of California Cancels Third Party Japanese Developers

… And then one day for no reason at all Japanese game developers decided as one to stop making games for Sony platforms, and Sony fanboys were caught completely unprepared for this turn of events!

There is no putting lipstick on this pig!
We are witnessing the death of Playstation in Japan.

By now we have seen more than enough connective tissue to conclusively determine that Soyny of California not only has zero regard for the needs of Japanese customers, and not only do they have an open hostility towards the anime-influenced games coming out of Japan, but also they actually harbour barely concealed hostility towards the Japanese people themselves. Japan is a well-ordered society which still places value on culture and tradition, and a large number of their cultural exports feature traditional representations of feminine beauty and social normality – a fact that threatens the Western ‘inteligensia’s stranglehold over culture. As far as they are concerned that makes the Japanese people bigots, and a bigot’s dollar is no good with Soyny.

Despite the overwhelming volume of evidence that has been presented in order to establish what is happening, to rusted-on Sony fanboys nothing short of a written-confession by Jim Ryan himself will be sufficient to establish motive. Any well presented explanation showing cause and effect will be dismissed out of hand, and then they will turn around and be very upset at companies like NIS when they decide to give Sony platforms a miss when releasing their games, when these companies really have very little control over the situation. Well, this week there have been further developments that the Sony fanboys will no doubt handwave down the memory hole.

Sony’s Japanese operation has been downsized by 1/3 after Sony stopped renewing employee contracts there. The people being let go were mainly tasked with developer outreach, and so it makes perfect sense that they would be let go, given that the Californian operation no longer wishes to see Japanese games released on Playstation platforms. Sony had already created a situation where in order for Japanese developers to release a game in Japan they would have to present an English language submission to Sony of California, which would have to be done during Californian work hours, when Japanese staff should be at home sleeping. Now to round out the shitty situation is the fact that Sony of Japan has been hollowed-out, so there are now far fewer support staff to help Japanese developers through the submission process.

Sony of California Cancels First Party Japanese Development

While this was taking place, California has also downsized Japan Studio in much the same way, by not renewing developer contracts. Japan Studio has been responsible for games like the Ico trilogy, as well as Gravity Rush, Ape Escape, and Puppeteer. They have also partnered with external studios to develop Playstation exclusives like Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne, and the Wild Arms series. Apparently their contribution is no longer appreciated because their releases do not have enough appeal to the Western market, heaven forbid they fail to produce a hyper-pretentious walking simulator like The Last of Us 2 or Clod of War:

Japan-based developer support teams have been reduced by as much as a third from their peak, and the rolling contracts of a number of game creators at PlayStation’s Japan Studio, one of the unit’s oldest in-house software ateliers, haven’t been renewed, former employees said. The U.S. office believes the PlayStation business doesn’t need games that only do well in Japan, employees in the California headquarters said.

Hope you're not a fan of Ape Escape!
Japan Studio is being mothballed.

According to Bloomberg, employees of Sony’s Californian operation have expressed frustration and disillusionment with Playstation of Japan, on account of the fact that they have only been able to sell 10 million consoles in that market, which is a reduction in comparison to PS3 sales for the region. This complaint seems like a disingenuous cope being used to justify the downsizing, given that for the last four years Sony’s Californian operation has consistently suppressed the releases of games that appeal to the Japanese market. In the same year that this began, Nintendo’s fortunes completely reversed with the release of the Switch, and they enthusiastically embraced the kind of Japanese content that Sony has been shunning. Given that halfway through the PS4’s lifecycle the California office cut its Japanese market appeal off at the knees, how is it any kind of surprise that the PS4 did not do as well in Japan as the PS3?

Many PlayStation 4 owners in Japan would eventually move to the PlayStation 5, but that would largely depend on how strong the PlayStation team in Tokyo will be in pushing the needs of Japanese customers to the American headquarters. Considering the current power balance between the U.S. and Japan, I can’t expect much, unfortunately.

Again, not to keep flogging a dead horse, but this all seems very blatant and obvious – yet one can expect to see it routinely ignored by Sony fanboys. By the same token, also expect to see those self-same Sony fanboys become extremely whiny when Japanese developer support fails to materialise for their console, despite having the most ample warning possible that this would be the case.

Sony of California Cancels Japanese Customers

Sony has a super special Christmas present for their Japanese customers: the complete and utter abandonment of the PS4 in Japan, effective December 25! Imagine! In the same week that PS5 was released in Japan, Sony also decided to announce that they were ending support for the PS4 starting on the 25th of December. That means they will no longer be offering repairs to CUH-1000 and CUH-1100 models after that date. You really could not ask for a stronger deterrent against Japanese people purchasing a PS5!

This is a huge breach of faith with customers!
PS4 support in Japan is barely surviving past the launch of the PS5!

For context, Sony ceased offering repairs in Japan for the later generation revisions of the PS3 and PSP in May of 2019! The PS4 released at the end of 2013, and yet its predecessor was still supported by Sony over five years into the lifespan of its successor console! Now the PS4’s obsolescence has been announced in the same week as its successor console is being released! Sony marketing can say whatever lies they like, but this move can only deliver one message to Japanese consumers, and it is not one which bodes well for the PS5’s prospects in that region.

This move comes as a staggering 1-2 punch given that it arrives in the same week as it was revealed that Sony of Japan and Japan Studio have both been drastically downsized on account of Sony of California no longer caring about Japanese content. It also comes just weeks after Japanese gamers found out that Sony was about to nonsensically switch confirm and cancel buttons on them, for seemingly no reason other than spite. At this point how does one even buy a PS5 if they are Japanese? Will Western Playstation fanboys even acknowledge that there is something going on now, or no? Probably no. Well regardless, Sony is about to have the tiniest, most Soniest audience that it has ever had in Japan!

2 comments

  1. Not a typo–a pejorative.

    Over the years, we have repeatedly said that video game companies–hardware and software alike–are peculiar in that they invariably take the most perversely wrong-headed reading of any set of circumstances, and use that as a guide for their business decisions. This is why any success that a company has is almost as soon followed by failure, as the company reads the success as the result of all sorts of things that have nothing to do with it, and then chases after those things in a vain and doomed effort to reach new heights. Instead, like Icarus, they plummet.

    Sony gained its initial, absolutely dominant, market position with the PS4 by adopting a, “It’s the games, stupid,” approach to the console. When XBox tried to ditch physical media and force everyone in a world of downloads and internet-contingent gameplay, the PS4 said, “Buy discs, own your games, play them offline.” Crowds went mad. The XBox One was buried before it even released.

    Then, every major Japanese franchise hit the PS4. There was no censorship. It was a grown-ups’ console. Developers of games like Dragon’s Crown could have faith that they could focus on making games for their audiences and being able to realise those games on the PS4 without a hassle. And so things went for a while, and the PS4 did very well indeed.

    But a few years ago, Kaz Hirai was moved on, and the Californian/American branch of Sony began to assert itself over the corporation generally and over the PlayStation segment particularly. Strategic people were replaced, moved to other divisions, or deprived of any authority. Claiming that their successes had been ‘listening to fan demand,’ they then went on to argue that ‘fans demand censorship’, when in reality only a loud but comparatively tiny group of mostly non-game-playing people want that. And so the censorship began. HR began hiring people who were not only happy with those policies but in favour of expanding them. And in short order, developers began to face all sorts of hassles getting their games approved.

    Developing games is hard work and expensive work; porting them to multiple systems is hard work and expensive work; and no one wants to do that work if there’s no certainty that the game will be ‘accepted’ by the hardware company along ever-shifting, wokist lines. The choice is between having to create a special censored version for Sony (angering PlayStation users and dramatically increasing development costs), or having to just censor the entire game (angering everyone, but making the PS4 port no more expensive than any other version).

    Or, the third choice, which is the one we’re seeing play out: don’t work with Sony. Tell gamers directly that Sony are a bunch of censorious assholes and release your games on other platforms. And then wait, because the imminent arrival of the next hardware generation, when the platform can’t get support and has blown all of its customer goodwill, will do the rest.

    And so it is.

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