PlayStation Studios Head Hermen Hulst Claims Sony Is Still “Very Invested In Japanese Development” Amidst Ongoing Censorship Of Japanese Titles, Shuttering Of Japan Studio

Source: Ape Escape 3 (2005), Japan Studio

Despite numerous and seemingly constant reports of Sony’s predilection towards censoring Japanese titles released on their platforms, PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst has attempted to reassure players that the company is still “very invested in Japanese development.”

Source: Gravity Rush 2 (2017), Japan Studio

Related Report: Sony Now Focusing Exclusively On “Blockbusters”, Smaller Studios Being Made To Work On Naughty Dog Releases

Asked during a recent interview with Game Informer’s Kimberly Wallace for his thoughts on the “rumors” that Sony had all but completely abandoned its Japanese audiences following its dissolution of Japan Studio (Ape Escape, Gravity Rush), Hulst refuted, “I will say that we are in some ways very much a Japanese company still.”

“That’s our heritage,” he added. “That’s still part of who we are. We love our Japanese games.”

Source: Jeanne D’Arc (2007), Japan Studio

Related: Sony Announces Closure Of JAPAN Studio, Will Shift Resources To Global PlayStation Studios Teams

When pressed by Wallace for information on what Japan Studio’s ‘restructuring’ meant for Sony’s future in Japan, Hulst boasted of the numerous other studios the company had in the country, presenting them as evidence that Sony was still “very invested in Japanese development.”

“We’re building out Team Asobi under Nicolas Doucet, so we’re actually investing in that team,” said Hulst. “People forget sometimes that we have Polyphony Digital, which is a team in two locations. We are investing in our external development group out of Tokyo as well, and that’s a team that has obviously worked with the likes of From Software and Kojima Productions.”

Source: Demon’s Souls (2009), From Software/Japan Studio

He continued, “So we are very invested in Japanese development and Japanese development is something that we love.”

“I think it’s such a core part of the PlayStation identity that I can’t ever see us shy away from Japanese or even Asian development,” Hulst concluded.

Source: Bleach: Soul Resurrección (2011), Japan Studio

Related Report: Sony and PlayStation Losing Footing In Japan As Nintendo Sweeps Sales Charts

Despite Hulst’s denial of the “rumors,” fans’ fears that Sony has turned away from Japan have been spurred by a myriad of concrete, widely reported events, including the company’s regular censorship of “blood and gore” and risque visuals  in anime games (despite such content being included and even promoted in their Western developed games such as The Last Of Us II) and their aforementioned closure of Japan Studio.

Further, as a result of Sony’s perceived indifference to its Japanese audience, Sony has all but been eliminated from the country’s top sales chart, with only one title appearing in the Top 30 for the two most recent reporting periods.

Source: The Last of Us II (2020), Sony Interactive Entertainment

Related: Silent Hill and Gravity Rush Director Reveals He Left Sony In Order “To Keep Making Games In My Own Style”

Alongside claims that Sony “no longer wants to produce smaller games that are only successful in Japan” in favor of games with global appeal, these reports make Hulst’s claims seem nothing more than corporate lip-service than anything else.

After all, he did say that the company is only still a Japanese company in “some ways” – which could mean anything from having a focus on niche Japanese titles (which, as evidenced, is doubtful) to simply having one office within the country.

Source: Tokyo Jungle (2012), Japan Studio

What do you make of Hulst’s attempt to assuage fans’ fears? Lets us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!

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