As reported by Washington Post, Spider-Man developer Insomniac plans to donate $50,000 to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), to be tracked by parent company Sony. This initiative was communicated to Insomniac employees via a confidential company-wide email from Insomniac President Ted Price.
Even as the company makes this donation and considers an initiative to offer financial assistance to employees who need to travel out of state to access legal abortion services, Sony has banned studios from making public statements about abortion rights in the United States and the next overthrow of Roe v. Wade, according to The Post. PlayStation President Jim Ryan been criticized in the last few days for urging employees to “respect differences of opinion” regarding the US Supreme Court’s unprecedented reversal of women’s rights in a company-wide email that later went on to talk about its cats.
Insomniac employees requested that company leadership make a public statement similar to those of Double Fine or Bungieand the company sent a “nearly 60-page” document to PlayStation’s leadership to address employee concerns about abortion access and the company’s public stance.
According to Price, “[Sony Interactive Entertainment] will not approve ANY statement by any studio on the subject of reproductive rights.”
“We fought hard for this and didn’t win,” Price wrote in the email to the team. Price also indicated that going against Sony’s policy and issuing an Insomniac statement anyway would result in negative consequences for the company: “We would also likely be severely barred from doing important public-facing work in the future.”
This restriction on Sony studios is particularly interesting, as one of the most prominent statements about abortion rights in the gaming world came from Bungie, which was recently bought by Sony for $3.6 billion. The deal is expected to be fully finalized by 2023, and one has to wonder if the studio would have been able to take the position it took had it already been a subsidiary of Sony, even with the greater relative autonomy promised.
It’s heartening to see Price defending on behalf of Insomniac employees, but a total donation of $100,000 from Sony, which has a market value of $110.36 billion, seems like a pittance when the company doesn’t publicly defend its own employees.