PlayStation president faces backlash after refusing to take a stance on abortion rights

Jim Ryan, president and chief executive officer of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc., speaks during a press event at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020
(Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, a leaked draft from the US Supreme Court revealed that it intended to overturn Roe v Wade, a 1973 ruling that legalized a woman's right to abortion. It is a move that has sparked overwhelming backlash, and a tremendous moment of fence-sitting from one Sony executive.

In an internal email sent this Thursday acquired by Bloomberg, PlayStation president Jim Ryan urged employees to "respect differences of opinion" on abortion rights. He then, reportedly, proceeded to spend the next five paragraphs talking about his cat's birthday.

This, naturally, has not gone down well with staff. Bloomberg reports that internal conversations from employees at several PlayStation studios expressed displeasure, with one writing that they'd "never been so mad about a cat birthday before". The sharp pivot had some staff feeling that their rights had been disrespected or trivialized by the email.

Ryan's comments stand in stark contrast to those made by Bungie, which firmly stated it would "never" avoid politics by declaring support for Roe v Wade—roasting critics on Twitter who told the Destiny maker to stick to games. But of course, Bungie was recent bought by Sony for a terrifying $3.6 billion, and I can't imagine staff there are particularly pleased with Ryan's comments.

Bungie wasn't alone in speaking out against the proposed Roe v Wade overturning, mind. Shortly after making its announcement, Double Fine joined in with its own statement of support, similarly encouraging fans to donate to women's support charities.

I've reached out to Bungie and Sony for comment.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.