Late last Friday, publisher Xseed Games announced Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal’s December release will be delayed while the company removes some of the sexual content from the PS4 version of the game. They cite “the wishes of the platform holder,” suggesting the removal is due to a changing stance on sexual content on Sony’s part.
“The release of Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal will be slightly delayed as we remaster to remove the interactive ‘Intimacy Mode’ from the PS4 version,” the company wrote in a statement published on Twitter. In a follow-up tweet it added, “We respect the wishes of the platform holder,” which could suggest Sony requested the changes. Re:Newal is a 3D remaster of the side-scrolling beat-em up for the 3DS of the same name. Players fight as scantily-clad girl ninjas, and they can also dress up their characters and, in the game’s Intimacy Mode, grope them. Xseed called the game’s new Burst mode “a voluptuous visual feast” in a press release earlier this year.
It’s unclear what Sony policy Xseed is citing or when it came into being. Speaking in an unofficial capacity on his Twitter account, Xseed localization producer Tom Lipschultz called this apparent requirement “very much a new thing,” but didn’t elaborate further. Sony did not respond to a request by Kotaku for comment.
“‘If you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost,’” Lipschultz wrote, quoting fantasy author and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman. “I don’t like intimacy mode in SK. But I’ve always stood up for it, because...well, this. This is how it starts, my friends. Welcome to the new ‘90s.”
Earlier this year, Omega Labyrinth Z, another game based around young-looking anime girls, became the first game to be banned from physical sale in the UK since Manhunt 2 for its touching mode, among other things. Publisher PQube Games eventually canceled the game’s Western release altogether after Sony refused to carry it. Sony also dropped the sex manipulation FMV game Super Seducer from PS4 in March, just days before it was set to release.
Sony’s possible crackdown on this kind of content, whatever the details and reasoning behind it, appears to be a recent development. 2016’s Gal*Gun: Double Peace includes its own rubbing mechanic, but it released on PS4 and Vita without trouble. PQube also published that game, and even said at the time that getting it approved for Western release was surprisingly easy.
Xseed stated on Twitter that the Steam version of Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal will be held until the PS4 version is ready but that the game will be uncensored on Steam. After previously cracking down on sex games earlier this year, Valve appears to be moving in the opposite direction as Sony, having also approved the “100 percent uncensored” visual novel Negligee: Love Stories for sale in the US just last month.