Total War: Rome 2 has suffered a Steam review bombing run over women characters and a recent update - but it turns out the game is working as intended.
Creative Assembly's PC strategy game, which came out in 2013, saw hundreds of new negative Steam reviews this week over the frequency with which women generals show up in the game and related claims about historical accuracy.
The update that added women to the game came out six months ago, on 20th March, but the recent complaints appear to have stemmed from the emergence an image, below, which shows a raft of female generals in one person's game. A cropped version of this image was then used by some to claim the March patch forces players to use female generals in every faction of the game.
Responding on Steam in August, a woman community content editor reiterated Creative Assembly's position on the matter: "Total War games are historically authentic, not historically accurate - if having female units upsets you that much you can either mod them out or just not play. People saying they won't buy the game because there are too many women in it is fine with us - if that's their reason, we'd rather they didn't anyway."
This comment did not go down well on Steam. Then, the debate around female characters in Total War: Rome 2 took a turn for the worse when Gamergate-friendly and neo-Nazi publications reported on it - and, depressingly, Steam users called for the community content editor to be fired.
The community contend editor followed up to insist she had expressed Creative Assembly's view, not pushed a personal agenda.
"I'm not HR, nor is it my job to push a 'personal agenda' - I convey the views of the company, which is where the statement regarding historical authenticity vs. historical accuracy (and the inclusion of women) originates."
But this did little to stem the tide of anger aimed at her on Steam. Now, in a statement issued to Eurogamer, Creative Assembly confirmed Total War: Rome 2 is working as intended - and even provided the percentage chances of women characters appearing in the game.
"Female characters appear throughout the game, but have between a 10 to 15 per cent chance of appearing as recruitable generals for some of the playable factions. The exceptions are the Greek States, Rome, Carthage and some Eastern factions, which have a 0 per cent chance, and Kush which has a 50 per cent chance. This is to broadly represent the cultural differences in those factions during the time the game is set.
"These percentage chances are moddable by players. We've not seen a verifiable bug where this is shown to be different or not working as intended. We have no plans to patch this out or remove this feature from the game."
This comment confirms the Steam outcry was misguided from the start, and its second paragraph backs up the post by Creative Assembly's community content editor, who also encouraged those upset by the spawn rate of women characters to try mods.
The situation rekindles memories of recent incidents where users have called for female developers to be fired. Specifically, it brings to mind the recent firing of two ArenaNet employees for their reactions to Twitter comments from a partnered Guild Wars 2 YouTuber. Then, we reported on women game developers who were experiencing a new wave of online harassment. Based on the situation with Total War, it seems this new wave is still alive and kicking.
Meanwhile, Total War: Rome 2 has an "overwhelmingly negative" recent reviews rating, with a "mostly positive" overall rating.