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Blizzard pulls "sexualised" victory pose from Overwatch

"This wasn't pandering or caving, though. This was the right call from our perspective"

Blizzard has removed a victory animation from Overwatch, following feedback from a player that it reduced the character to, "just another bland female sex symbol."

The complaint was lodged by "Fipps" on the Overwatch forums, where players have been providing feedback based on its beta. Initially, Fipps praised the "pretty great job" Blizzard has done with the female characters in Overwatch, making them, "diverse, interesting and compelling."

He offered similar praise to Tracer, a female character who has been more prominent than any other hero in the game's marketing, where she is portrayed as, "fast, silly, kind, and a good friend." However, Fipps complained that the release of a new victory pose, which, "just reduces tracer to another bland female sex symbol."

Fipps comments were notably balanced, conceding that the pose wouldn't have been so jarring if it were associated with a character like Widowmaker, "who is in part defined by flaunting her sexuality." In short, the complaint was not levelled at the sexualisation of any female character, but the need for balance and consistency across the entire cast of Overwatch.

"This pose says to the player base, oh we've got all these cool diverse characters, but at any moment we are willing to reduce them to sex symbols to help boost our investment game," Fipps continued, before mentioning a "young daughter" who has been enraptured by the game's trailers and marketing so far.

"She knows who Tracer is, and as she grows up, she can grow up alongside these characters. What I'm asking is that as you continue to add to the Overwatch cast and investment elements, you double down on your commitment to create strong female characters. You've been doing a good job so far, but shipping with a Tracer pose like this undermines so much of the good you've already done."

It will come as no surprise that Fipps' point was fiercely debated by the Overwatch community - you can peruse the forum thread here - but Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan, the game's director, made the final decision yesterday.

"With this particular decision, it was an easy one to make-not just for me, but for the art team as well," Kaplan said, noting that Blizzard already had an alternate pose that was a better fit for Tracer. "We weren't entirely happy with the original pose, it was always one that we wrestled with creatively. That the pose had been called into question from an appropriateness standpoint by players in our community did help influence our decision-getting that kind of feedback is part of the reason we're holding a closed beta test-but it wasn't the only factor. We made the decision to go with a different pose in part because we shared some of the same concerns, but also because we wanted to create something better.

"We understand that not everyone will agree with our decision, and that's okay. That's what these kinds of public tests are for. This wasn't pandering or caving, though. This was the right call from our perspective, and we think the game will be just as fun the next time you play it."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar

Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.