Dead or Alive is a frenetic fighting game series much like Street Fighter, but it's also the birthplace of some particularly buxom women, which is why publisher Koei Tecmo also makes Dead or Alive Xtreme, a spinoff that shines a spotlight on its female characters.
Instead of pummeling each other with punches and kicks, in Dead or Alive Xtreme, players engage in poolside activities and other mini-games with the bikini-clad Dead or Alive women. It's meant to be simple, titillating fun, and for some players, a reason to ogle the characters.
One of the racier new features in Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, the latest version of the game that's coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in Feburary 16, is the "bikini malfunction" system. It allows the characters' swimwear to shift or fall down from all the strenuous activity, revealing tan lines and a little more skin than the series has shown before. You can see it in action here:
But that's not the only major difference between Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 and previous games in the series. For the first time, the latest version of the game won't be published in North America and Europe.
Despite producer Yosuke Hayashi teasing a possible western localization for the game in an earlier issue of Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu this year, Koei Tecmo revealed the game is currently only being developed for players in Asia. American fans assumed they'd see their own release of the game, but remarks in broken English from Koei Tecmo's community manager on the company's official Facebook now tell a different story:
"We do not bring DOAX3 to the west and won't have any plan change in the future. Thank you for asking," read the Facebook post in response to a fan question as to whether or not the game would indeed be receiving a western localization. "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."
The post seems to be referring to the growing discussion regarding the portrayal of women in video games in the last couple of years, though something could have been lost in translation. Whatever the real reason is, Koei Tecmo's decision means that if players in North America want to play Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, they'll have to import it from Japan. Play-Asia, a company that imports Japanese games to America, used this opportunity to promote its services, and also blame the Koei Tecmo's decision on pressure from "social justice warriors."
Even the game's original designer, Tomonobu Itagaki, commented on the situation.
Following his resignation, he sued the company for withholding a bonus as well as damages for what said were "unreasonable and disingenuous statements" made by Koei Tecmo president Yoshimi Yasuda. It's not surprising that he jump at the opportunity to criticize the company.
In addition to the bikini malfunction feature, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will include both male and female characters this time around, and producer Yosuke Hayashi has detailed several adjustments planned for "Soft Engine 2.0," which aims to give bodies in the game a softer, more rounded. It's shown off quite often with the heaving of characters' breasts moving more fluidly, though that doesn't always look very realistic.
The PlayStation Vita version will also incorporate the touch panel on the back of the device as well as the gyro sensor (we dare not imagine for what purpose), and role-playing game elements will reward players for putting time in with specific characters.
Despite the backlash across the internet regarding the decision, it's not immediately clear why we won't be receiving a western localization. All we know for sure now is that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 isn't coming to America. Whether that's because Koei Tecmo is afraid it will offend American sensibilities is unclear because Koei Tecmo hasn't made an official comment yet. The company doesn't like talking about this stuff with western media. It declined to comment for this article, and earlier this year declined to comment on the Soft Engine for a previous Motherboard story.