During E3, Dead or Alive game director Yohei Shimbori told Eurogamer that Dead or Alive 6 would aim to tone down the sexualisation of its female characters, "so everyone can play without being embarrassed,” and to "avoid the silliness" while focusing on the fighting.
"This is a fighting game. We felt people were not looking at this as a pure fighting game,” Shimbori said. “They were looking into something that was in the wrong direction. So, we wanted to make sure this is a fighting game first."
Two days after that statement was published, Dead or Alive developer Koei Tecmo unveiled a new feature in a different Dead or Alive game, Dead or Alive Xtreme: Venus Vacation, that’s the exact opposite of toning it down: It includes minigames where you leer at women in tiny bikinis, and harass them as part of the game, trying to pull their clothes off nonconsensually.
Dead or Alive Xtreme, if you're unfamiliar, is a spin-off of the fighting game by the same name that features the same characters, only that they play volleyball and lounge around in swimsuits rather than kick each other in the head. DOAX:VV launched in November 2017 as a standalone PC game, and was recently updated with a new feature that lets players tug and pull on the characters' swimsuits, seemingly against their wishes. The feature was promoted in a new video posted to Koei Tecmo's YouTube channel:
While one character stands by a pool in a French maid-style bra and thong, the player grabs at her clothing with a cursor, often pulling it so hard that she almost falls over. She makes sounds of frustration and annoyance, clearly hating whatever it is you’re doing to her in this game. This part of the game, at least, is basically a harassment simulator.
“I can't believe I need to say this, but please keep the comments on topic,” a moderator wrote in a Reddit thread discussing the new game trailer Thursday, listing “rape advocating,” “arguing about what is consent,” “arguing about what is sexual assault,” and “personal attacks” as prohibited from the discussion.
DOA’s “Softness Engine” has been controversial since the game’s inception, and gamers doing what gamers do—modding games to see some virtual skin—seems to be a constant headache for Koei Tecmo. In 2015, one of its producers begged PC gamers to “play our game in good moral and manner” and help the company avoid backlash about its more risque titles. Which worked out great for them: People immediately made fully nude mods.
Since this is a year-old game that’s just now getting more attention, technically the developers haven’t broken any recent promises about toning it down. But it's hard to believe Koei Tecmo will actually move away its old ways while it is actively promoting new game features that let players pull clothes off its characters.