How do you keep game developers from saying negative things about Sony’s PlayStation 3? Well, if you are Sony Europe, you keep them from saying anything at all. Eurogamer, has reported that SCEE has decided to include a ‘no comment’ clause into their Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s), essentially barring any Sony Developer from expressing an opinion on the details of the European PS3 launch. When Eurogamer asked for comment about the recently announced launch, developers said only the following;
“As a registered PS3 Developer we cannot discuss or comment on the PS3 from a development angle because of our contractual commitments with Sony,” said Paul Jobling marketing director at Eutechnyx. “However, you can say that we are very excited about the launch of the PS3 and wish it every success!”
“We’d love to give you a little comment on this but could I please direct you to… SCEE,” said Nina Kristensen, chief of development at Ninja Theory. “As [Heavenly Sword] is a PS3 exclusive, in this context our PS3 comments really also need to go through [SCEE].”
Also from the article:
“Criterion Studios, the EA-owned developer of the Burnout series, also admitted it was bound by the same gagging order as everyone else when asked to comment about the PlayStation 3.”
“”I’d really like to help you, but the NDA’s do indeed bind us too,” said Philip Oliver, CEO of Blitz Games.”
Now, a NDA is nothing new, and can be considered an everyday occurrence in the video game industry. The only difference here, is that most Non-Disclosure Agreements usually prohibit talk of proprietary technology, intellectually property and marketing strategy, very few prohibit your opinion.
What does all this mean? Well, it means that Sony is not going to let anyone steal their thunder this time around. With first party developers in the UK essentially silenced, Sony has affectively put a lid on any negative statements that could come to light and hurt their European launch. Although developers are allowed to acknowledge that the launch exists and, per Sony, can be “very excited” about it, they are, by terms of the NDA, effectively gagged from opinioning about anything else (release date, price, etc).
This may seem like good business sense until you realize that, while no one can say anything bad about the PS3, no one is allowed to say anything good about it, either. At least not without Sony’s permission.