Following recent reports that Sony is refusing to approve any statements from PlayStation studios relating to reproductive rights, Bungie - whose acquisition by Sony was announced in February - has said "there will never be a 'muzzle' big enough to stop us from standing up for what's right".
Bungie was one of the first studios to speak out in support of Roe v Wade, a key judgement which legalised abortion across the US, following recent reports the US Supreme Court was trying to overturn the ruling. At the time, the developer called the move a "direct attack on human rights", adding that "standing up for reproductive choice and liberty is not a difficult decision to make, and Bungie remains dedicated to upholding these values".
However, in light of reports that Sony is refusing to authorise any public statements its PlayStation studios might want to make around the issue of reproductive rights, some Bungie fans have questioned whether the developer will still be able to express its opinion so freely once its acquisition by Sony is complete.
Responding to one such tweet, Bungie senior community manager dmg04 wrote, "I admit, I'm just a CM in the grand scheme, but I'm confident in the following: we are, and will continue to be, Bungie. There will never be a 'muzzle' big enough to stop us from standing up for what's right."
"It'll need to be proven over time," dmg04 added, "but we continue to strengthen our pillars and culture year over year. There's so much more work to be done, but I feel we're on the right track with the talent we have and the passion they bring (not just making games, but improving industry.)"
Bungie CEO Pete Parsons then chimed in to support dmg04's sentiment, retweeting the thread and adding his own affirmative stamp with a simple, "Yes."
News that Sony was refusing to approve statements from any of its PlayStation studios relating to reproductive rights was first reported by the Washington Post, citing an email Insomniac head Ted Price had sent to employees explaining why the studio was unable to make a public statement in support of Roe v Wade - as both Bungie and Psychonauts 2 developer Double Fine had done previously - despite staff requests. Price even added he believed there would be "material repercussions" if the studio went against Sony's wishes.
Price also addressed a question from an Insomnaic employee asking whether Sony's acquisition of the studio was now impacting its values. "As far as our freedom of speech goes," he wrote, "while we do have a LOT of autonomy that often gets taken for granted, there are times where we need to acknowledge we're part of a larger organisation. For the most part our ability to tweet has been unfettered. However there are rare times when we're in opposition (like this week) and SIE will have the final say."
Prior to the Washington Post's report, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan had attracted considerable criticism when, after referencing the US Supreme Court's proposal to overturn Row v Wade in an all-staff email, employees were told, "We owe it to each other and to PlayStation's millions of users to respect differences of opinion among everyone in our internal and external communities." Ryan reportedly then went on to write at length about his cats' birthdays, leading some employees to accuse the PlayStation boss of being disrespectful and trivialising the issue of reproductive rights in messages seen by Bloomberg.