Idea Factory International is known for publishing a lot of games from the Japanese studio, Compile Heart. Idea Factory have recently been releasing a quite a few of Compile Heart games here in the West on PC after they had successful runs on various PlayStation devices. However, even the president of the Japanese publisher had to admit that the gender political debate in North America — regarding female representation and the censorship of some ideas and depictions — have prevented them from releasing some of the more risque Compile Heart titles in the West.
In a quick interview with Operation Rainfall, the discussion briefly centered around Koei Tecmo and their announcement that they wouldn’t be releasing Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 in the West – for Europe and the Americas – due to the vicious gender political debates and attacks that some companies have become embroiled in for the way they depict fictional female characters in games.
Idea Factory president Haru Akenaga mentioned to Operation Rainfall…
“That’s honestly [Koei Tecmo’s] decision, but yes, sadly, [the topic of sexualization of women in games] has stopped us from localizing certain Compile Heart games. We don’t want to censor anymore because we know that’s not true to the original developed art.”
In this case, it’s self-censorship in a region to avoid having to deal with the company’s image getting smeared in the mud by media websites intent on making publishers and developers shamed for their choice in how they depict women in games.
Interestingly enough this kind of self-censorship is something that developers in the Middle East practice often. They do so to avoid media backlash or, worse yet, real life violence from religious zealots. Back on March 16th, 2015, Samer Abbas, co-founder of Play3arabi, had mentioned to Arabic Gamers…
“[…] we know that our culture is rather conservative, therefore and although we are not subject to governmental censorship we practise respect. We do not want to offend our gamers, by giving them a game that would stir nationwide controversy
“[…] we would sensor things such as sexual content and gambling because it would offend the majority of society’s traditional values, irrespective of religion.
“We have to draw a line somewhere, and we have to make decisions based on our society on what should be censored.”
It’s identical to Koei Tecmo choosing not to release Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 for fear of media backlash about the game being “sexist, creepy” and “misogynistic”; three descriptors that have become commonplace in most articles when the media reports about the Dead or Alive series in the past two years. And it’s also identical to Idea Factory choosing not to release their games in the west so as to avoid the cost of paying extra to censor out content from the original release.
NCSoft has recently undergone the same sort of scrutiny when Blade & Soul had various aspects of the content, quests and characters censored due to the localization team feeling as if some of the original content in the M-rated MMO, Blade & Soul, came across as “culturally insensitive”.