An announcement made earlier this week that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will not be launching in the US/EU due to the issues surrounding the “treatment of female[s] in gaming,” led to the only example of anyone being remotely interested in volleyball outside of the Olympics.
While we had already known that Koei Tecmo were only planning to release the upcoming PS4/PS Vita game in Japan, there was initially no reasoning given behind why this would be the case, so we naturally assumed it had something to do with the game filling a rather niche market and its publishers therefore being skeptical that it would generate many sales in the West. However, a post on Dead or Alive‘s official Facebook page revealed that the reason behind its lack of a US/EU launch is, according to the game’s community manager, at least, due to “issues happening in video game industry with regard to how to treat female in video game industry.”
The Facebook post continued: “We do not want to talk those things here. But certainly we have gone through in last year or two to come to our decision. Thank you.”
As you’d predict considering the current climate of the community surrounding video games, people weren’t particularly happy with this announcement, and swiftly bypassed laying any blame at the feet of Koei Tecmo in favor of stating that it was progressives – or, more accurately, so-called “SJWs” – who had led to the game’s US and European release being canned. If this was a tactic to avoid shouldering any of the responsibility when it came to this business decision, then it was a shrewd move by Koei Tecmo, but let’s assume that it’s not for a second and consider that the publisher has refrained from giving the game a US/EU release due to being fearful that it will receive a negative backlash.
How weak of an excuse is that?
The theory some continue to band about is that progressives are attempting to “take games away” from them by enforcing their own opinions upon developers and publishers. Removing oneself from the infinite game of Internet tittle-tattle and name-calling, though, will reveal that in actuality, this hasn’t happened. All of our favorite triple-A games are still released, our favorite series still exist, and the indie game scene still churns out unique oddities much in the same way that it did before progressives and anti-progressives became locked in an endless battle of online tug of war. No game has been prevented from being released since lines in the sand were formed between GamerGate and its perceived “enemies,” because no one truly has that power other than publishers. Think about it – even the games which are the most criticized by progressives usually wind up receiving more coverage and more support than if they would have been ignored. Take Hatred, for instance; that game was laughably poor, but because of the criticisms lobbed in its direction, it probably pulled in more sales than its creators could have possibly imagined, if not for the drama surrounding its release.
Even if you disagree with someone’s negative opinion regarding a video game you happen to enjoy or are excited for, they’re only criticisms, and they’ll invariably differ from person to person. While I personally couldn’t give a solitary shit about the resolution gap between 720p and 1080p, I am one of those dullards who believes that a decent framerate should rank high on any developer’s list in terms of importance. Similarly (though I am not suggesting that these two issues are exactly the same), someone may not care about the gender of the protagonist in the game they’re playing, while someone else may appreciate it if their in-game character more accurately represented them.
This push for more inclusiveness has been represented in our games, with less focus upon the sexualization of virtual women, stronger female characters and more diverse characters in general, but to suggest that this is a result of angry tweets and forum posts is short-sighted. Developers simply recognize that their audience is getting broader, and are adjusting their output to reflect those they’re appealing to – developers don’t create their games to pander to enraged Twitter users or to appease some guy shouting at them in a YouTube video.
Which leads us back to Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. If this post is to be believed, then the reasoning behind the game not being brought to the US/EU is because Koei Tecmo believes that the game will be criticized for its portrayal of women upon release. Given its content, this could well be true, but how on Earth is this the fault of its potential, hypothetical critics? The majority of video games are placed under intense scrutiny prior to and following their release, more so than any piece of entertainment in any other medium, and publishers will be aware of this. For one of them to turn around and say “we’re going to avoid any criticism our game may face upon release by simply not releasing it in the region where we believe it will be criticized” is on them. That’s their decision to make, and as previously mentioned I cannot help but assume it’s more to do with potential sales than it is a public backlash, but any complaints regarding this decision can only be leveled at them.
Progressives haven’t somehow barred Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 from entering the US/EU, but rather Koei Tecmo have decided to do so of their own accord. If every publisher decided to avoid a certain market because they felt an aspect of their game wouldn’t go down well with some people residing within it, none of us would ever get to play any games, ever. And that’s just not the case, is it?