Sony’s European arm is no stranger to controversy, having faced massive backlash for sacrificing a goat at a God of War 2 launch party several years ago. Now, their European contingent is facing trouble again after their YouTube channel had to pull an innuendo-filled advertisement from their rotation after complaints of it being too risqué.
The video, which was saved and re-uploaded by other users to the very same website, shows a female doctor delivering a script filled to the brim with sexual innuendo, only to reveal she’s talking about the ability to use a PlayStation Vita to remotely play on the PlayStation 4.
The ad is surprisingly tame in comparison to plenty of the top PlayStation 4 games for the console itself, which contain everything from gay interspecies sex to hyper-violent kills. Granted, those games are clearly labelled for mature audiences, whereupon the commercial itself was viewed by consumers of all ages. The advertisement was set to private as complaints piled up, and as of this moment the video is still unavailable through Sony’s YouTube channel.
A case could be made that today’s modern society advertises sex to consumers on all fronts – kids of all ages walk by stores stacked with Nicki Minaj flaunting her booty with Anaconda, whilst movies like Twilight tell young audiences that being stalked by an older man is a romantic gesture. With games like Grand Theft Auto 5 allowing players to hire prostitutes and perform sexual acts in first-person, Sony’s innuendo-filled commercial seems tame – but the company still should have realized the advertisement was questionable before they published it. At the minimum, at least they recognized their mistake retroactively. Or maybe it was the plan all along since there’s way more attention for it now.
The industry itself is no stranger to sexualized game advertisements, with Guitar Hero: World Tour having featured supermodel Heidi Klum multitasking between playing the game and apparently stripping/convulsing, and even MX vs ATV cashed in on sex appeal by using car-wash-style models to somehow relate to the joys of actually dirtbike racing.
It’s clear that the mantra ‘sex sells’ has been taken to heart by some industry officials, but the aforementioned videos show that Sony’s attempt was pretty tame in comparison – especially considering the other videos didn’t receive the same amount of complaints. Still, considering that the e-sports scene had to deal with rape culture this week, we can be hopeful that the gaming industry as a whole will recognize that there are better ways to advertise games than sex appeal combined with innuendo that stopped being funny in highschool.
At the end of the day, there are plenty of strong female characters spread across the videogame industry, and people actively providing backlash for unnecessary sexualization will help improve equity in the long-term. For now, Sony hasn’t officially apologized for the incident, but after reviewing some of the other sex-filled commercials, we’re just thankful the doctor was actually wearing something under her lab coat – this could have been a far-larger incident for Sony.
What do you think about the advertisement, Ranters? Do you think it’s too much, or are people making a big deal out of nothing?
Follow John Jacques on Twitter @Makelevi.