Special editions are a difficult sell. To get gamers to shell out extra cash for the deluxe version of the game, you need to make sure you throw in something worthwhile. Thus, with the upcoming release of Dead Island: Riptide, publisher Deep Silver needed something to help set the special edition apart. But what would justify that extra expense? Some sort of artbook? Bundled DLC? A buxom figurine of a woman’s torso that has had the head and arms removed and looks nothing like a zombie?
…wait, what was that last one again?
Dead Silver announced yesterday that the “Zombie Bait” edition of Dead Island: Riptide that was set to be released in Europe and Australia would be packaged with a statue of a decapitated woman’s torso because including the head would have made it look tacky. Marketing director and possible crazy person Paul Nicholls claimed they, “wanted to provide a unique collector’s edition” that “would make a striking conversation piece on any discerning zombie gamer’s mantel.” It certainly is a conversation piece, but if you think this is something actually worth displaying I’m pretty sure most of those conversations are going to end with incoherent screaming and the other party just begging to go home. I mean, what better way to come out to your family that you’re an aspiring serial killer than by placing this beauty on your mantel. It is also a great way to rid yourself of unwanted friends and announce to the neighborhood to stay the hell out of your house. Alternatively, if your torture dungeon was looking a bit plain, this could serve as a fantastic centerpiece.
For some reason, the reaction of the gaming community was less than positive, and Deep Silver was forced to issue an apology shortly after the unveiling of their terrible idea. According to their statement on Twitter, Deep Silver “sincerely regret this choice” and “are committed to making sure this never happens again” which, honestly, makes it sound worse. Sane companies don’t need to make commitments like this, and if “keep bloody torsos out of our products” is any where on your mission statement then tear that up immediately and start completely over. Nintendo never needed to make a commitment to not punching babies, and that’s because Nintendo isn’t fully staffed by lunatics.
It isn’t even that I’m offended by it, because I’m really not. I’ve done some unspeakable things to zombies in my life. These hands aren’t clean. It takes substantially more gore that this for me to take notice. And it isn’t just the blatant sexism of it, even though by packaging giant disembodied breasts with your game you are basically ensuring that no woman ever would be buying this. You could put a warning label on the back of the box linking the game to congenital birth defects in pregnant women and it still would do less to scare away female customers. Still though, if you honestly want to ignore half of your potential audience and pretend women don’t play games, that’s fine with me. It is a profoundly stupid business decision, but then again this is clearly a profoundly stupid business.
However, lets ignore that for a second. Even if the figurine had been male and it didn’t look like the marketing department just wrote down the word “boobs” on their list of ideas before heading home early, that still means that a group of individuals got together, talked about it, thought about the absolute best way to optimize sales for their special edition, and the very best idea they came up with is a bloodied human torso. This wasn’t just one person. Think about that. Someone sat down, probably at a meeting, and said out loud, “I think we should include a replica of a human torso with our game” and nobody called the cops. That person wasn’t even fired or laughed at or given weird looks at the water cooler while co-workers scrambled and tried to remove their contact information from the staff directory. Instead, multiple people heard this and also thought it was a good idea. They apparently though there was some person out there that wouldn’t be swayed by the game, the artbook, or the DLC, but would immediately jump on the chance to purchase a hand painted human torso statue. Even if I just described a real person, there is a 100% chance they are already in jail so they couldn’t buy it anyway, Deep Silver.
I’m not offended. I’m not mad. I’m just confused.