Dead Or Alive Xtreme 3 Isn’t Coming To The West, And We Shouldn’t Be Surprised
The news has been making the rounds that Koei Tecmo, publishers of the Ninja Gaiden, Dynasty Warriors and Dead or Alive series, will not be releasing Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 in the West. Basically, that means the game will only be available through import from Japan. Both Nichegamer and Techraptor have written some decent reports on this.
To give some context, the ‘Dead or Alive’ franchise is a series of fighting games, which started on the PlayStation, and expanded to the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, and now Xbox One and PS4. The latest title in the franchise is Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, the final expansion for the Dead or Alive 5 series. Often, people hear ‘DOA’ and instantly associate it with its spin-off title ‘Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball’, a ‘fanservice’ game featuring the ladies of the series clad in skimpy bikinis. This confusion is common, and perhaps at the heart of the problem.
Initially, the developers of Xtreme 3 had commented that they wouldn’t be releasing the game in the West unless there was enough fan demand for it. However, today we learn of what their final decision is. According to the developer:
“Do you know many issues happening in video game industry with regard to how to treat female in video game industry? 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 “
Quite harrowing. It seems that the developers are attempting to dodge the clearly inevitable controversy and backlash over releasing this game in the West. Mind you, not a game about murdering innocent civilians, or using a neo nazi to kill ethnic persons. Just a game about women playing volleyball.
For those who aren’t aware, the past few years in the gaming industry have been tumultuous due to the constant, and now volatile, topic of women in gaming. The Assassin’s Creed Unity PR mess up, the prevalence of Anita Sarkeesian’s videos, the Dragon’s Crown Kotaku article situation and so on. Even recently, we had the removal of R Mika’s butt slap animation being view-able during her Super move in Street Fighter V, and aspects of Bravely Second and Xenoblade Chronicles X’ outfits being censored for Western release.
While it’s definitely important to have mature conversations about how to represent diversity in games, it’s hard not to cringe whenever the topic is brought up due to the several extreme voices which purport to speak for everyone’s interests.
Now, more than ever, gender in games is a hot button issue. Even though games have always had a fair amount of female characters, it’s certainly getting better with the representation within Western action games. I make this distinction because most people should know that female characters, of all shapes and sizes, have been in RPGs, MOBAs, fighting games, strategy games and so on since the beginning of gaming. There are those who strangely believe that Fallout 4 was the ‘first’ game to feature a female avatar when this was an option since the first game.
Are there problems with the depiction of women in some games? Certainly. Ride to Hell Retribution’s treatment of women is literally objects to be attained. Some games’ female characters aren’t well fleshed out, or even present. Despite that, I would say the vast majority of games as a whole feature a stellar cast of all sorts, and it’s dishonest to pretend that all of gaming doesn’t feature this. Bad writing or bad design is an aspect of any entertainment medium, and it’s hardly female characters who specifically suffer from this.
As for DOA, the series is known for its buxom babes and gorgeous men fighting across ridiculous stages, yet it only seems to get crap for its female cast. Earlier this year, there was the rather odd initiative within a part of the competitive DOA fighting game community to soft-ban lewd costumes of the female characters (but not the male ones), in order to ‘improve the image’ of the game. A soft ban is a suggestion that certain things are frowned upon, but aren’t specifically ‘hard banned’ by the tournament rules. So even when the perpetually offended aren’t lambasting the game, it seems even some of its fans are ashamed of its depiction of sexiness.
Now, I’m going to take off my blogger hat for a second and be real with you all. What game series is often brought up by most people, even those who aren’t necessarily opposed to sexualization in games, as an example of ‘cheap fanservice’ and ‘poor depictions of women in games’? The DOA series has had a target on its back for a long time and it’s become even worse given the climate of the gender in games debate. The puritanical sort will want games like this scrubbed from the earth, whilst even the moderate persons will think it’s a ‘stupid’ game. It’s not hard to believe that the developers of Xtreme 3 took a look at what’s going on in the industry and said “nope”, took their ball, and went home.
In the grand scheme of things, is this the end of the world? Of course not. The game can still be imported and there may even be English subtitles for those who need them. It’s not that it’s the end of fanservice games in the West either, since Senran Kagura titles still appear periodically. It is slightly a symptom of a much larger problem in gaming where some people are so opposed to depicting women in games as sexy that they’ll complain to high heaven about a game they aren’t even going to play. This is a fair opinion to have, however it shouldn’t be anyone’s right to say what others shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy. There’s plenty of room in gaming for all different tastes, so why should the design of characters be a zero sum game? Different strokes for different folks; not all games have to appeal to everyone, nor should they strive to do so.
Wherever you come down on this issue, this is just a small stone in the water. One would assume that this doesn’t affect any future releases of the next fighting installment in the series, but it would be very depressing if that was the case. Let us know what you think in the comments. Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is coming to PS4 and PS Vita next year.
Dedicated gamer, member of the Fighting Game Community and sometimes a hobby photographer. Follow me @JusticeSoulTuna