A recent update to 2D fighting game Skullgirls has removed allusions to real-world hate groups, made its content less sexually “exploitative” and added some adjustments to content the developer believed to be in “poor taste”.
The result? An influx of negative Steam reviews blasting the team for its decision.
As spotted by PC Gamer, while Skullgirls’ overall Steam rating remains “Very Positive,” its recent review average is now noted as being “Mostly Negative”.
This is all in reaction to Skullgirls most recent update that makes several adjustments to the game’s content. In an accompanying post about the changes, game director Charley Price noted three points the team specifically wanted to focus on: Allusions to real-world hate groups, character sexualisation and agency, and racial sensitivity.
“While the Renoir family and the Black Egrets were always intended to evoke imagery from an oppressive militant regime, we felt that the way that manifested (most notably via red armbands, flags, and symbolism) was too close for comfort – especially given the unfortunate reality that some of these hate groups are still active in various respects to this day,” Price explained, stating that the game’s red armbands have now been removed (see image below).
Meanwhile, when discussing the game’s sexualisation, Price noted that while “Skullgirls is no stranger to characters that confidently express their sexuality, there are instances in the game where characters are fetishised and/or have sexualisation imposed upon them.” Price stated that this included unwanted predatory behaviour towards “younger characters”.
“While alluding to some of this can be narratively meaningful, we have made a number of small adjustments throughout the game to ensure that this content is less exploitative (e.g. the opening of Filia’s Story Mode),” Price shared in their update.
Thirdly, on race, Price said the team has “made adjustments to some content that we believed to be in poor taste” highlighting the game’s references to racial violence in “Big Band’s Story Mode”.
You can see a compilation of these in the video below from LalitoTV, with some being more subtle than others.
Clearly anticipating some backlash to these changes, Price concluded with the following statement:
“Please know that all of these choices have been made following careful consideration and lengthy discussion amongst all members of the current development team. Beyond this post, we do not intend to discuss the particulars of these changes further.
“We are confident that this will provide a more sound foundation for Skullgirls that we can all be proud of as we continue to grow and expand the universe in the years to come.”
Despite these words from Price, Skullgirls has seen its reviews on Steam plummet in recent days – though others have been more positive.
“Leaving this positive review to counter people with five hours saying the entire game is now bad because it’s one percent less horny,” wrote one reviewer who currently has over 2000 hours on record in the game.