Escape from Tarkov is a strange tale in the games industry. The game is an military ARPG being developed by Russian studio Battlestate Games. The game first debuted in 2016, and found inordinate success off the back of crisp gameplay and immersive combat. There have been some issues though. It’s an indie game, so bugs are expected, but some design choices have left players a bit miffed. One particular sticking point for some players has been the lack of playable female characters. This is something that players have railed against in the past, and it appears that it’s once again an issue.
The developer has made it clear that there are some female models in the game, like NPC traders. But according to more recent statements, the company is doubling down on not making them a playable option. The justifications are being centered on the need for added development work that the team claims they cannot justify.
“[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.
Of course, people are going to disagree with this. The process for modeling different gendered models is very much established by this point. And according to many developers and artists reacting to this, even a small team should be able to handle that aspect, The real issue making the process harder for different gendered characters is voice acting. For each set of character models, voice actors have to do the lines and sound effects.
Also, the lore explanation is a bit wonky. There’s not some in-story reason for all the women disappearing. All the female characters haven’t been killed off or something, and since they appear as NPCs, it just seems like an excuse.
But the real hot water exploded from statements made by the developer which fall outside development difficulties. A while back, during an explosion of popularity of the game in 2016, the developer was asked about why Escape from Tarkov doesn’t have female soldiers. The response wasn’t good.
“We considered that, but we came to the conclusion that women are not allowed to be in the war,” developer Pavel Dyatlov told WCCFTech. “Women can’t handle that amount of stress. There’s only place for hardened men in this place.” This response was no doubt beyond the pale, and met with harsh criticism. Battlestate Games said in a newly released tweet that they reprimanded the representative who made the statements, and don’t support the underlying idea being pushed.