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Let's talk about Thief's anti-open world

OPINION: Here's what I think about Deep Silver's awful zombie torso

Deep Silver are still selling some plastic tits attached to the mutilated torso of a plastic dead woman, despite having apologised for it profusely back in January, back when the torso was first announced and everybody got rightly upset about it. The mangled woman's body exists as part of the special edition of one of Deep Silver's games, ostensibly as a collector’s item for that game, but more probably as an insulting marketing weapon.

Which is why I won’t mention the name of their game here. The tasteless, tactless promotional dead woman was likely designed only to antagonise and draw attention to an unremarkable game, to spur fingers into repeatedly tapping the name of Deep Silver’s 6/10 game into headlines over and over again. Because, let’s be honest, there’s not much else to say about it.

But by saying one thing and then doing something that would seem to contradict the thing they said, did Deep Silver lie? My basic legal training warns me not to say they did, but rather to give you two bits of information. One: the model of a headless, bloodied corpse of a woman is still being sold in Europe and Australia right now, according to Amazon and the several incredible people who actually bought it and posted pictures of it online. Two: the statement Deep Silver made in January.

For the limited run of the [special edition of the videogame] for Europe and Australia, a decision was made to include a gruesome statue of a zombie torso, which was cut up like many of our fans had done to the undead enemies in the original [videogame]. We sincerely regret this choice. We are collecting feedback continuously from the [game’s] community, as well as the international gaming community at large, for ongoing internal meetings with Deep Silver's entire international team today. For now, we want to reiterate to the community, fans and industry how deeply sorry we are, and that we are committed to making sure this will never happen again.”

Note that they never say that they’re not going to sell it anyway. Deep Silver hope that you assume they wouldn't be exactly that audacious. In fact, it even sounds like they’re continuing to advertise the availability of the “gruesome” thing they're apologising for. And let's be clear, this is more than just an apology "to those offended" — the tried and true tactic of dodging blame while appearing contrite — this is a full-blown statement of regret, an admission of wrongdoing and a resolution to do better.

But as Deep Silver insist with heartfelt contrition that they will make sure a zombie torso will never be sold again, we now know that they never intended for zombie torsos not to be sold in this instance. The statement was yet more torso-marketing disguised as a sincere apology. Assuming they weren't somehow otherwise compelled to continue with the marketing of the dead woman torso against their collective will: that's alarming. 

It seems Deep Silver are not in control of their actions any more. Perhaps they are being possessed by some awful sexist ghost, or they’re being held to ransom by the world’s most small-minded, trivial prick? Blink once for ghost, Deep Silver, or twice for prick-ransom. Or just slowly nod and stare at the floor if you knew precisely what you were doing at every stage of this manipulative attention-grab.

"In lieu of a picture of some boobs, here's a picture of my dog."

Or, let’s be more realistic here, maybe the wheels of production had been set in motion already. Perhaps a factory had already assembled crates and crates of these eviscerated women and they were already being shipped to warehouses across the globe, and Deep Silver were simply powerless to recall them. After all, four months is hardly enough time to ask retailers not to sell a thing to a person. Just yesterday it took me fifteen whole seconds to cancel my Amazon order for a Morphy Richards iron. There's more of Deep Silver than me. Probably hundreds. I'm not sure. It was certainly in their power to stop this item, which Deep Silver themselves regret producing, from reaching customers.

It's important to stress that, because that means this is no longer a matter of whether or not the item is offensive to you. If you want to own a model of a mutilated torso of a dead woman and put that on your mantelpiece or carry it around under your arm at dinner parties, that is absolutely fine by me. Of course, it means you are a weird moron, but it’s fine to be a weird moron. It’s also fine for Deep Silver to sell dumb things to weird morons. Nor will I go into the separate argument over whether a bust of the violently decapitated remains of a mostly nude woman is absolutely sexist (it is), childish (it is) and undermines the industry by being so cravenly and knowingly reductive, insulting, ostracising and stupid (it does).

No, I’m simply frustrated by a publisher flagrantly attempting to exploit the media to whip up controversy around a game in which they have little faith in. That’s not just insulting to customers, it's insulting to the developers of the game with which this torso is now inextricably associated. Developers who, regardless of the end result, were actually doing their best to create something they enjoy.

I’d have some residual begrudging respect for the publisher had they stuck to their bonkers ideals, refused to apologise and started filling shelves with all sorts of mangled effigies of brutalised women while cackling over their creation. It would have at least been honest. But what they did was underhanded and spineless. For Deep Silver to apologise for their actions was an admission of guilt and wrongdoing, for them to proceed with their actions is now duplicitous and cynical.

I have approached Deep Silver for comment.

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I can see the controversy but obviously some people like to buy torsos for Deep Silver to relief regrets with money.  

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