Battlestate Games, the studio behind the newly popular online shooter Escape From Tarkov, says they won’t implement playable female protagonists for “game lore” reasons and because it would be too much work. Right now, you can only play Escape From Tarkov as a man.
“[T]here will be no playable female characters because of game lore and more importantly - the huge amount of work needed with animations, gear fitting etc,” the company said on Twitter yesterday.
The studio made the statement following the two-year-old game’s rising popularity on Twitch, which brought renewed scrutiny to comments made by a Battlestate Games developer back in 2016 about the war in fictional city Tarkov being too stressful for women to fight in. Distancing itself from the old comments, the studio tweeted yesterday that they “didn’t reflect the official position of the company,” and that it “always respected women in wars and military women.” But they won’t be letting you play as a woman.
Escape From Tarkov takes place in a fictional part of Russia that’s been closed off after war breaks out between various corporate-backed paramilitary factions seeking to take control. The women in the world of Tarkov have not all been killed off, and some even appear as non-player characters, so the “game lore” explanation is unclear. The game’s two main factions are pretty generic military contractors and I haven’t been able to find anything in the company’s recent statements pointing out why women wouldn’t be involved in them.
The amount of work required to make women playable is an excuse that’s been wheeled out in the past as well. In January 2014, Ubisoft creative director Alex Amancio told Polygon adding women to Assassin’s Creed Unity’s online mode would have required twice as many animations. Far Cry 4 director Alex Hutchison said women were cut from the game’s co-op mode for the same reason later that year. Former Ubisoft animator Jonathan Cooper chimed in then to disagree, estimating that it would have only required a few extra days of production.
Whatever the resources required, whether or not to deploy them to create playable characters that represent approximately half of the people on earth is clearly a choice, one to which the developers said no. Battlestate Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment.