As reported by the Washington Post, Spider-Man developer Insomniac is planning to donate $50,000 to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), to be matched by parent company Sony. This initiative was communicated to Insomniac employees through a companywide confidential email by 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 forbidden studios from making public statements on abortion rights in America and the upcoming overturning of Roe v. Wade, according to The Post. PlayStation president Jim Ryan came under fire in the past few days for calling on employees to “respect differences of opinion” with regards to the US Supreme Court’s unprecedented rollback of women’s rights in a companywide email that then pivoted to talking about his cats.
Insomniac employees had requested that company leadership make a public statement similar to those by Double Fine or Bungie, and the company had sent a “near-60 page” document to PlayStation leadership to address employee concerns around abortion access and the company’s public-facing stance.
According to Price, “[Sony Interactive Entertainment] will not approve ANY statements from any studio on the topic of reproductive rights.”
“We fought hard for this and we did not win,” Price wrote in the email to staff. Price also indicated that bucking Sony policy and issuing a statement from Insomniac anyway would result in negative consequences for the company: “We’d also probably be severely restricted from doing important public-facing work in the future.”
This restriction on Sony studios is particularly interesting given that one of the most prominent statements on abortion rights from the gaming world came from Bungie, which was recently purchased 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 stance it did if it was already a Sony subsidiary, even with the greater relative autonomy it’s been promised.
It is heartening to see Price’s advocacy on behalf of Insomniac employees, but an overall $100,000 donation from Sony, which has a market cap of $110.36 billion, feels like a a pittance when the company won’t publicly stand up for its own employees.