Update: Koei Tecmo has released an official statement tackling the comments made by a KT community manager that set off social media firestorm. The statement was released via Koei Tecmo America's official Twitter account.
The statement says that the previous comments made were incorrect, but doesn't clarify the situation much beyond that. Probably, because saying "We don't think the game will sell well in the West" or "We have a Western release planned far after the Japan and Asian release" would probably ignite their fanbase in angry cries.
We've known for some time that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, the gravure idol on vacation spinoff title for the Dead or Alive fighting series, was not heading to the West. The game is coming to Asia in two versions, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune for PlayStation 4 and Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus for PS Vita. Koei Tecmo said they had no plans to release in the game in the United States, unless they saw significant fan demand for the series.
Last week, in response to a fan asking if DOAX3 would be heading West, the official Dead or Alive community channel on Facebook replied that the company was not releasing the game due to potential criticism.
"We do not bring DOAX3 to the west and won't have any plan change in the future. Thank you for asking," said the community channel. "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."
Here's the thing though. That reasoning doesn't pass the smell test. It's bullshit, pure and simple.
See, this is a spinoff of the main Dead or Alive series, which saw the release of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round earlier in the year. That title was the culmination of everything DOA5, featuring a ton of risque DLC costumes and the Private Paradise mode, which allowed you to simply watch your chosen female character in any available costume. It's damn near the same as DOAX3's primary selling point.
So obviously any backlash aimed at Koei Tecmo would've been similar? Unless you're arguing that there's been a huge shift in the industry in the past months? So let's see what that backlash entails. Here's a quick Google search for "dead or alive 5 last round sexist".
Number three is a personal blog that attempts to paint this huge backlash by pointing out reviews from Metro UK, The Independent, and Gamer.nl. That's all we really got.
Some have surmised that Koei Temco is worried primarily about Marie Rose being one of the headlining characters in Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. Again, the gothic lolita character already factored into DOA5's Private Paradise mode and shares ages with Honoka (both are 18-year old high schoolers), who gets far more sexualized costumes since we're being honest. Perhaps they're worried because Marie Rose is presented as a more childlike character, but her presentation in the early DOAX3 screenshots isn't much different from some of her costumes for Last Round. Her second default outfit and the Hot Summer, New Challengers, Tamiki Wakaki DLC outfits all tread the same ground. Koei Tecmo weathered the intense storm and furor surrounding those costumes (there wasn't one), so what's the problem now?
So it's not a backlash to DOA in particular. What else did Koei Tecmo release this year? How about Ar NoSurge Plus for PlayStation Vita? Deception IV for PlayStation 4 and Vita? The company released Yoru no Nai Kuni in Japan last month and they later announced that the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita title was heading West in the beginning of 2016, under the title Nights of Azure. So it can't just be content that's giving Koei Tecmo pause, because they've shown via releases surrounding DOAX3 that they really don't care.
Perhaps it's sales? That was my original guess. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round didn't set the charts on fire and Koei Tecmo probably assumes that DOAX3's userbase will comprised mostly of DOA fans. Scaling the sales down from DOA5, they perhaps realized the game wouldn't sell all that much. But look at those games above. Ar No Surge, Deception IV, and Nights of Azure aren't setting the world on fire. Neither is Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence going to become a sales blockbuster. I'd surmise that DOAX3 might sell more than most of those titles, but I could be wrong.
That leaves two different options. The first is Koei Tecmo doesn't care. They've assumed it's not even worth offering as a digital release in North America. The Asian version of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will have English as an option and the PlayStation 4 is region-free. Import the game and you'll have no issues playing it. Perhaps the company thinks that's enough for the appreciable user base.
The second option is this is a marketing ploy. The story gets out and Koei Temco gets a bit of heat for a title that otherwise would've been missed by anyone other than DOA's most fervent fans. People will make purchases in anger or to make a point that they wouldn't otherwise. Since they don't have to point to a specific person or campaign that somehow scared them off, no harm, no foul.
If a worry about criticism is Koei Tecmo's problem, I have a newsflash for them. We're a global community now, folks. If someone is going to criticize Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 for its handling of women, they really don't need a North American release to make an argument. Most of the content in the game will be up on YouTube in short order and they could import it regardless. Criticism will happen because people are allowed to say they don't like a thing. Using that as a reason to not release a game merely shows that you have no faith in that product. It's an out for the company, to deflect backlash they'd get from their fans towards another target.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is not coming West because Koei Tecmo decided that it didn't make business sense to release it here. That's on them. If you want it, the pressure should remain on them, where it belongs, not on some vague boogeyman they're trying to sell you.