Today in terrible video game advertising: Soul Calibur V

Ivy from Soul Calibur is shown with an image cropped closely on her chest which is largely exposed except for a fur vest. A snake is around her neck. The slogan "Go big or go home" is printed above her cleavage.


Today in “advertisements that tell me absolutely nothing about the game other than reaffirm that I will not be buying it” features Soul Calibur V, the latest game in the iconic series from Namco Bandai.

You know what other images would work just fine for the catchphrase “Go big or go home”?  A closeup of an elephant.  A Boeing aircraft.  An enormous mansion.  The planet Earth.  All of these things would be just as completely irrelevant to the game as this ad.  Sure, it’s has the character Ivy from the game, but who in the heck can tell that it’s her when her only body feature deemed worthy enough to be displayed in the ad are her completely exposed and overly-shiny boobs?

Boke18 on Twitter, a very concerned male gamer says the following:

A screenshot of two tweets from Boke18, the first saying "So the fuck what. Ivy is a staple character in the series and has been oversexualised for as long as I can remember." and the second saying "Seriously gamers will cry about any damn thing. Some people won't buy Soul Calibur V because there is a promo pic focusing on Ivy's chest"


Silly me.  How dare I try to change absolutely anything?  We should just accept that things are the way they are because that’s how they’ve always been.  You know what else we’d still have if we took that stance?  Slavery. Women who can’t vote.   This guy actually claims that Ivy has always been oversexualized.  Yet it isn’t a big deal, because he is not personally offended.

File this game under my neverending list of games that I’m clearly not in the target market to buy.  And all this before I’ve even read a damn thing about the game.

[h/t to jaredr, via this link]

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
This entry was posted in Console Games and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to Today in terrible video game advertising: Soul Calibur V

  1. Hmm… Not sure I would’ve included the guy’s twitter handle and avi, but otherwise he’s an asshat. And that ad is so distastefully offensive I’m surprised anyone would like it.

    • Cuppycake says:

      Why not? I have zero issues whatsoever with people letting him know how they feel on Twitter. Also, his Twitter account is completely public so anyone can see this.

      • I agree with this. The internet isn’t a black hole–you should be accountable for what you say, I believe. I think we SHOULD be highlighting things like this–shame is one of the most powerful weapons we have.

        • Deviija says:

          I will add my agreement as well. Social media like Twitter is global public conversation, it is not a private message between two parties. Thus, what people say in public domain should be held accountable for public scrutiny and discourse. Plus, I do not feel as though this article (or Cuppy) is attacking this one fellow or asking people here to rage on him via Twitter, so I think it’s quite fine to illustrate the situation. :)

      • Matt says:


        I’m always a little disappointed when the asshole screenshots on this blog blur out the names… people need to be publicly shamed.

    • Sunflower says:

      I’m totally fine with having his name shown, and I really liked this article. However I don’t think that what we do is necessarily shaming. Shaming implies coercion. What we would be doing is providing feedback and saying we don’t find this acceptable. If the person happens to feel ashamed, that’s on them, and they should feel their way through it.

      I think it’s important to talk about this distinction because throughout time people in positions of power have used shame to control others, and they did so by imposing some arbitrary morals that were coercive. It’s hard to distinguish, but it’s the difference between coming from a place that defends a community and holds people accountable as opposed to trying to manipulate behavior that is threatening to the status quo by suppression. One helps feedback and innovation flourish, and the other stifles them. I tend to associate shame with suppression.

  2. Deviija says:

    Well. I’m repulsed by that ad and effectively alienated. I seriously doubt many people (straight men) that defend the sexualization of these women would still be defending the ad if it were one of the dude characters crotches with noticeable bulge and obvious explicit outline. Not that that would be sufficiently equateable, but still.

    I’ll pass on this.

    • Terry says:

      I agree — especially remembering the outcry over Alex Ross’s cover for Justice Society of America #7 which featured a distinctive bulge.

      • Considering how many of these fanlets will claim the castanic dudes in TERA are “just as bad” as their kinswomen?  Yeah, I think we’d hear a hell of a lot of complaints from these same guys.  (And most, if not all, “gamers will cry over anything” remarks would probably be being made for the sake of irony.)

  3. Jean-Paul says:

    Seriously, Namco? Way to kill any enthusiasm I had for the game.

    It reminded me of this advert for Fighting Vipers, from yeeeeaaaars ago:

    Which made me feel rather old, and also made me realise that as awful as the Fighting Vipers ad was, it still featured more than just a character’s chest.

  4. Kelsi says:

    I completely agree with cuppycake on all accounts of this discussion. Just because Ivy has “always been oversexualized” doesn’t mean she should continue with it. And I’m definately offended by this. This cover art -along with many other gaming advertisements-pressures me to feel that big tits, a perfect body, and all around beauty are necessary for women in the gaming world. This ad doesn’t help the sexism in gaming.

    • But yet, that exact argument gets trotted out every damn time there’s any kind of discussion on the topic:  “It’s always been that way, it’ll never change, there’s no point in even trying to change it, because that’s what the market wants!”  Ugh.

      Well, that’s what gets trotted out in between all of the other derails—and the usual screeching and flailing of galled fanwads—that is.

  5. Clementine says:

    Looks like Soul Caliber has learned a lot from Evony.

  6. Hardcore Casual Gamer says:

    Oh, right. That ad (sigh).

    “File this game under my neverending list of games that I’m clearly not in the target market to buy. And all this before I’ve even read a damn thing about the game.”

    This illustrates a major problem since the boobs in this game are not taken to the absurd levels that they were in the past two games (and Ivy’s actually wearing more clothing than she has in past games).

    • Deviija says:

      Guess they had to make up for it with this kind of ad, to remind folks that there is ample amount of ample…ness still in it game? ‘No, no, fans, the extra clothing and less elephantitus does not mean we are abandoning your fanservice needs!’ :P

  7. Gesualdi says:

    Can we confirm this is a legit Western ad? I know the Japanese version is legit, but I haven’t seen this one anywhere.

    • Gunthera1 says:

      The criticism is valid regardless of what market has these print ads. It is an oversexualization of a woman in order to sell a product if it is an ad in Japan or an ad in Germany.

  8. Trodamus says:

    Great, another game I can’t play in front of my fiance out of embarassment and shame.

  9. rho says:

    Sometimes, with some of the stuff we cover on here, I cant help but think that maybe the action is defensible. Maybe the company just didn’t have the money to do things how they wanted, or maybe someone has been quoted out of context, or something like that. There’s a benefit of the doubt to be given. Then there are things like this where there is no benefit of the doubt, no defence, and no excuse. This is just gratuitous crap.

  10. Nathan of Perth says:

    Oh my… subtle, aren’t they?

  11. Twyst says:

    I think i was reading that you can change the women’s bust sizes in V – and i assuming this is part of the ad – regardless, terrible.

    • Nathan of Perth says:

      Don’t think that’s a feature reference because you could change that in 4 via the weight/musculature sliders when customising characters. Unless they mean altering it for the built-in characters?

  12. Jesse says:

    God damnit, now I’m torn between cancelling my pre-order and just wanting the game because I love the gameplay in it. This sucks, I’ll feel guilty if I buy it, but I really do enjoy the gameplay. I think I’ll just go cancel my pre-order and consider buying it used later, that way the company doesn’t actually make any money.

  13. Kat says:

    I couldn’t even tell it was Ivy. Would it have killed them to have at least included, oh, I don’t know, her FACE?

    How is a pair of oily, hovering breasts even supposed to be sexy? What’s pushing them together when she’s plainly not wearing a bra or corset? Does she even have nipples? Or a ribcage? Is that supposed to be a necklace or a scarf? This ad raises so many questions, and not one of them is ‘where can I buy Soul Calibur V’.

    • Freena says:

      That’s actually a really good point. Like, is this genuinely seen as sexy by men? I can’t imagine a great big hovering penis of, say, Nathan Drake or Solid Snake would make me want to buy a game.

      Because it isn’t JUST penises I’m interested in…I generally like the characters/people attached to the penises too. A picture of Solid Snake posing awesomely (or sexily) is going to make me more interested in a game than a picture of just his bulge.

      • Zooey says:

        Lesbian here. They’re well-drawn breasts, actually, but the what-the-hell-is-pushing-her-boobs-together question is a good one, and I would indeed prefer a picture that included her actual face.

        This is like when Evony started that ad campaign, and then I heard that people I knew were actually playing it. And it wasn’t a porn site. Am confused.

  14. Pixie says:

    I like Soul Calibur IV. That was the first and only one I have had the privilege of playing. I probably won’t be getting the newest one, at least not right away, because I’m not sure what would be so different from the game I already have. The ad is definitely annoying, though. Ivy is my least favorite character in the series just because she looks unrealistic to the point of ridiculous.

  15. Maverynthia says:

    OK, cynical me is going to point out how is this advertising different from THIS: ad in Japan game covers FOR the game that were used in advertising of a game pretty much everyone here ran right out an bought?

    I guess what I’m critiquing here are these articles about people taking umbrage at these kinds of advertisements only to find out five of their friends ran out and bought the game (supporting the advertising) so they did too. Yeah I’m pretty cynical about that game still and the fact that many people said they wouldn’t buy the game based on the advertising only to see them turn around and buy the game because “well there are puzzles…at..least!” Which supports not only the advertising BUT the game cover art that was censored for certain stores DUE to it’s nature.

    • Cuppycake says:

      So, I didn’t play Catherine. I don’t own it. And I wrote this article, so I can certainly take umbrage at this kind of advertisement.

    • Bolegium says:

      Not having played either game, and not at all apologetic for the Catherine adverts/box art – i’d say the difference is using sexual imagery to promote a fighting game vs. using sexual imagery to promote a puzzle(?) game that is all about the sexual frustrations of it’s main character. Both examples are deserving of criticism, but whereas the ads for Catherine are gratuitous, the ads for SC5 are misleading in addition to being gratuitous.

      As much as I hate saying this, advertising is always going to be exploitative, so I can understand why many people might be more forgiving to an ad that at least tells you what the game is about compared to one that is purely titillation.

      • Nigel says:

        “Both examples are deserving of criticism, but whereas the ads for Catherine are gratuitous, the ads for SC5 are misleading in addition to being gratuitous.”

        Not to mention tasteless.

      • Maverynthia says:

        But the Catherine ads don’t tell you what the game is really about. It looks to be about sheeple, and dangerous, predatory women.

        I also don’t buy they “But it’s about relationships!” So are a number of other erotic Japanese Visual Novel games, but they are as hardly objectifying as Catherine.

        • Tiana888 says:

          “But the Catherine ads don’t tell you what the game is really about. It looks to be about sheeple, and dangerous, predatory women.”

          That’s actually pretty much what the game is about. Catherine is a dangerous, predatory woman (you find out why she is that way towards the end of the game) and upon meeting her, Vincent begins having nightmares revolving around sheep and climbing bizarre structures (hence the sheep motif and the puzzle spect of the game).

    • Sunflower says:

      I’m not sure what your comment means, are you referring to some games that seem to have gotten a free pass from this community? (Trying to clarify, not being a smartass.)

      If so I guess it’s because there are different bloggers here who have different takes on things maybe?

    • Olivia says:

      The Catherine ad/game cover is different from the Soul Caliber ad because Catherine is depicted with her head and appendages and is not just reduced to her breasts. Moreover, the sexual imagery used in Catherine’s marketing materials is meant to sell the idea of a sexual relationship, which reflects the game itself (Vincent’s conflict over the temptation to pursue an affair with Catherine), as Bolegium suggests. Catherine is more than an object in the links you provided, she is a seductress. Ivy, on the other hand, is a rack for the viewer to ogle and nothing else. She’s not a person, she has no agenda, she’s just large breasts. Do I like the Catherine ad or game cover? No. But is it the same thing as that Soul Caliber ad? Absolutely not.

      game covers FOR the game that were used in advertising of a game pretty much everyone here ran right out an bought?

      So basically you commented here, not to discuss the article or the ad itself, but because you disagree with the choices other feminists made and want to shame them for it? We live in a patriarchy, it is inescapable. Every single one of us makes compromises when it comes to practicing our feminist principles in real life all the time. It’s not actually possible to not do so. Unless you live in a self sustaining vacuum that is completely cut off from the rest of society at large, you do too. One feminist’s decision to buy Catherine is another feminist’s decision to shave her legs and put on make up for work each morning. Attacking others for buying Catherine because you think it was the wrong thing to do is petty and unhelpful.

      • Sunflower says:

        I’m not clear how portraying a woman as a conventionally pretty standard type of “seductress” is not pretty similar to Ivy’s headless body. Catherine (from what I’ve read here) may have characteristics, but she seems to be created to cater to men’s issues/fears first and her personality arises from that. Both are just stand-in icons for men to play with, both represent a kind of escape from feedback and real personhood. I might be totally wrong since I haven’t played the game, so excuse me if that’s the case, I’m going by what I read about it here and elsewhere.

        I don’t understand the shaming part of the discussion– if we disagree with the choices other people make, shouldn’t we call them out? If something seems counter to feminism or hypocritical, isn’t that a valid criticism? For what it’s worth I don’t think compromises make us bad people or non-feminists, but we should examine why we choose certain things and not others and do so with awareness.

        • Maverynthia says:

          I guess what frustrates me, is that of all the Catherine reviews I’ve seen from SJ reviewers, people seem to have never called out the box art, the marketing, and even the LE bonuses in great detail and then tied it into how the game is really about how women need to be making babies and men need to find women to make babies with and how Catherine is just a succubus designed to trap men into being punished by this “god” who thinks men need to be making babies (and by that saying that women need to be baby factories). It’s not really even about the relationships when “birth rate” is being brought into the equation.

          OH but it has PUZZLES and that more than makes up for EVERYTHING!

          • Doug S. says:

            It’s not the puzzles, it’s the PLOT. ;)

            And you do get to tell said god that he’s full of it, and then go on to prove it by pwning his hardest block puzzle tower. (And yes I know how little sense that makes. It is a video game, after all.)

        • Olivia says:

          I might be totally wrong since I haven’t played the game, so excuse me if that’s the case, I’m going by what I read about it here and elsewhere.

          I don’t really want to go into exhaustive detail, but if you play through all of the endings, it’s pretty clear that Catherine is a multifaceted demon with motivations and a personality of her own. At any rate, my point was not to praise Catherine’s depiction but to differentiate between the advertising. Is seductress heaps better? No, but it’s not the same thing as an object. You can’t tell anything about Ivy as a person in the Soul Caliber ad because she’s not a person at all, just breasts. You can tell things about Catherine her ads, she has agency and personality.

          • Sunflower says:

            “my point was not to praise Catherine’s depiction but to differentiate between the advertising. Is seductress heaps better? No, but it’s not the same thing as an object. You can’t tell anything about Ivy as a person in the Soul Caliber ad because she’s not a person at all, just breasts. You can tell things about Catherine her ads, she has agency and personality.”

            If that is your point, I don’t agree with you, because I can’t tell anything about Catherine from the ads and I don’t think that most people necessarily would either. The agency you describe comes from discovering it in the course of the game or hearing about it from people who have played it, so I don’t see how I’m supposed to deduce that she’s a demon with her own motivations, etc. from the ads. I just see a conventionally “sexy” anime woman, which is just as much of an icon stand-in as Ivy.

            By the way, someone pointed out earlier that Ivy has a pretty cool story and background herself, which also doesn’t show up in the advertising and depiction.

      • Maverynthia says:

        Fine, I’m petty and unhelpful! I question everything. I will question a feminists decision to buy a game that is marketed as explotative porn. A game who’s sole focus on is the man and how he confronts his sexuality. That’s basically gaming in a nutshell. Game about men and men’s needs that exploit women to satisfy those needs.

        I just feel buying games like Catherine with that kind of advertising sends a strong message to the game companies that despite what we say about how bad the advertising is or what the game is about we’ll happily buy it anyways. It means they don’t have to change, they don’t have to examine themselves and say “Well maybe we should have done the advertising a little differently.” they can go on and say “Well, despite all those women getting angry at the advertising they still bought it anyways!”

        Also, making a difference between Cathering and SCV is saying, well there are some times where sexually exploiting a woman and turning her into just an object is OK, when NO.. no it’s not. Catherine becomes just another pair of breasts as does Ivy.

        The difference between make-up/shaving legs and buying a horribly sexist game is that you can live without the game, you can put that money to other games, you can just rent the game. You don’t have to give money to the game company that only thrives on money.

        • Alex says:

          Everyone here understands what buying a given game means and what message it sends. If folks in this community bought the game anyway, then that means they weighed the options and decided that buying the game was a better choice for them than not buying it. Perhaps to write an exhaustively thorough critique like Gunthera did, or maybe not. But either way, you don’t know better than the person in question what they should do with their own money.

          Criticize a game or a game’s advertising all you want, but this shaming you do is deeply unhelpful behavior and it is not welcome here.

        • Sunflower says:

          I think it’s a good idea to examine all choices we make to know why we make them and so that we can make them freely. I don’t care if someone buys the game or shaves their legs, but I do hope they try to think of why they do it and what it means for them and examine the societal apparatus that has led to certain things being a certain way.

          When we make choices we can’t just think of it only individually but we need to think if we’re contributing to a larger system that might be hurting others, and if so, to acknowledge it openly as part of living in a fundamentally unfair society. I don’t blame someone for enjoying and buying something, but I hope that it’s fair game for examination and discussion (not hate or exclusion).

          • Alex says:

            Sure. But Maverynthia is crossing the line into shaming and judging, which is wrong.

            • Sunflower says:

              Well, I don’t agree about judging being wrong. After all, I feel free to judge a rapist or a child molester, or even a sexist woman as being actively harmful at the very least. Humans need to judge each other, they need to judge situations and see if they agree or disagree in order to gain clarity, and they need to apply judgment to themselves as well.

              As for shaming, I don’t know if that’s what he/she intends. My impression is that what is seen as hypocrisy is being called out, not the person’s worth or character, which I also think is fine to do, even if it’s really uncomfortable to hear. I am not clear on what we all call shaming– what does it mean? Providing unwelcome feedback? Trying to ostracize someone? Attacking character? I don’t see Maverynthia trying to suppress discussion, in fact I think he/she is trying to open it up, maybe in a way that is good, maybe not, I can’t say. I don’t think this is trolling, for what it’s worth.

              Maverynthia has the right to say that she/he thinks someone is doing something wrong and unhelpful, just as other people have the right to disagree or to say “I’m doing this because I want to, and I stand behind my choice”. I do think he/she has the right to say “this is not helpful behavior because it feeds into a systemic issue” which is what I’m getting from his/her comments.

              The issue of compromise is an important one but we can’t use that as a blank slate to ignore problematic decisions. I don’t have a real stake in this because I haven’t played or bought either game, and don’t plan to, but I’m getting weird vibes from the comments and I would like to know why this is kind of blowing up since I haven’t seen Mav write anything super egregious (in my opinion).

            • rho says:

              [At the limit for nested replies. This is actually in reply to Sunflower]

              I do not consider it to be at all helpful to be comparing buying a video game with rape. They are completely different things in almost every way imaginable, and I honestly find the comparison to be in bad taste.

              Rape is inexcusable. Buying a video game, no matter how objectionable, is not. Each individual who buys a game has their reasons for doing so, and some of these reasons (such as the one Alex pointed out) do more good than harm.

              And even if they don’t, even if it’s for entirely self-indulgent reasons, is that really worth thinking less of a person for? Let’s face it, none of us are perfect. Every single one of us does things which directly or indirectly contribute to human suffering. We all compromise our morals in minor ways from time to time.

              That would be what I find objectionable about Maverynthia’s comments here. To me, it carries the implication that we all must be paragons of perfection and that when we cease to be, we stop being worth taking seriously. If someone bought Catherine, then they should still be able to criticise Soul Calibur without being castigated.

              If someone who had bought Catherine (ie, not the author of this post) were saying “I won’t buy this game and nor should you and if you do then you are a bad person” (ie, not what this post actually said) then I agree that that would be worth pointing out as hypocritical. But as things stand, no, I don’t see it at all.

            • Sunflower says:

              To Rho: I didn’t compare buying a video game to rape and frankly I’m pissed, and not sure at this point if this is a cooperative discussion or turning into some kind of intellectual maneuvering. I am talking specifically about the accusation of judging and the idea that judging is always wrong, and I’m trying to point out that I don’t agree. Judging is NOT always wrong. People are going to form opinions about other people and sometimes they will be correct and useful and sometimes they won’t be, but we are free to do it and free to get feedback about it. In fact there is no way to stop it, because the human mind exists to form judgments and put ideas together.

              As for whether buying a game is excusable or inexcusable, who is doing the excusing? There is no moral authority who can say if it is or not. If someone thinks it’s not, that’s their call to make. Others might disagree. You can’t make the call for other people anymore than Mav can.

              I didn’t see anything in Mav’s comments that imply we should all be paragons. I THINK Mav is saying that some games seem to get a free pass and others don’t. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree, but I think it’s worth exploring at least, and at least asking for clarification. I don’t see him/her as trying to shut down discussion or suppress anyone, and I think there’s a point worth looking at there especially since there have been such defensive reactions about it.

              What’s the big deal about questioning a decision to buy a game? How is it linked to someone’s worth as a human being? Is someone actually making that claim, or are there hurt feelings causing backlash? Hurt feelings are ALWAYS valid, but the conclusions drawn from them are not always so. I can’t say I understand what Mav is trying to say any better than anyone else here, but I also think that shutting someone down without actually understanding what their point is, is wrong. Can you say for sure Mav is saying what you think she/he is saying, and can you say for sure that Mav doesn’t have a point worth at least talking about, even if it’s incorrect?

            • Alex says:

              Thank you, rho, that is just what I was trying to say.

              Sunflower, the point is that Mav’s comment is a bad-faith attack on this community, and that is unacceptable. She refers to “pretty much everyone here” running out and buying Catherine, which is blatantly false to begin with, and it’s not a statement she can in any way prove. But the larger point is it’s not hypocritical to criticize Catherine’s advertising and then buy the game. If Cuppycake preordered Soul Calibur V tomorrow, it wouldn’t make her a hypocrite. The whole argument is a pointless attack whose only purpose is to make Mav feel like a moral authority over everyone else.

              Moreover, Mav has a history of making these sorts of comments, and it is getting tiresome.

            • Sunflower says:

              Alex, I’m not sure if we’re talking about the same thing.

              “Sunflower, the point is that Mav’s comment is a bad-faith attack on this community, and that is unacceptable. She refers to “pretty much everyone here” running out and buying Catherine, which is blatantly false to begin with, and it’s not a statement she can in any way prove.”

              Ok, I didn’t see it as a bad faith attack, but you definitely have your own view, and that’s totally fine. I still don’t think criticizing what people buy is wrong or out of bounds of examination. I would not agree that buying the game makes someone a bad person and I didn’t think anyone here was saying that.

              “But the larger point is it’s not hypocritical to criticize Catherine’s advertising and then buy the game. If Cuppycake preordered Soul Calibur V tomorrow, it wouldn’t make her a hypocrite.”

              See, I didn’t get that from the post. My understanding (which may be flawed, which is why I asked Mav for clarification) is that this game’s advertising (SC) is sexist and getting called out for it, where the other game (Catherine) had packaging materials and advertising that was just as sexist, and people defended it because the game “had puzzles” (according to Mav), which makes the defense hypocritical. I don’t know if this is true, I don’t even know if I agree, because I’m pretty new to TBH and I might have missed that part, but I did find it interesting to explore if maybe we all have some kind of free-pass mechanism because we like a game. I think it’s human nature to, and I think it’s worth talking about.

              “The whole argument is a pointless attack whose only purpose is to make Mav feel like a moral authority over everyone else.”
              “Moreover, Mav has a history of making these sorts of comments, and it is getting tiresome.”

              Ok, then it sounds like I stepped into a long-running thing. I don’t know if I can guess at Mav’s purpose myself but if you have insight into it from previous experience, then you have to go with what you know. I still think the question is worth exploring in general, but I’ll step out of this and let you guys talk it out or whatever.

              I do kind of have a negative feeling about how this was handled, and now I feel like there’s more of these weird landmines everywhere that I’m not aware of and must in the future avoid.

  16. Nigel says:

    This reminds me of the 90′s when game advertisements were full of gore and disgustingly bloody. Fortunately that passed, hopefully this will pass too. But until then, yeesh!

  17. Being a heterosexual cis-male I guess I’m in the target market for and I just feel kind of insulted. The ad is just so lazy, “guys like boobs so lets just put boobs on it and call it a day”.

    Note: I have two blogs one of which is a sex toy reviewing blog (the one linked is my just open gamer one), so I’ve seen plenty of breasts and breasts used in advertisement and have reviewed porn on a few occasions and this actually just makes me roll my eyes at this kind of ad even more. I can get plenty of good porn for free if I want. Why do they think giving me really, really bad porn is going to make me buy their product?

    • Sunflower says:

      What do you mean by “good porn”? Considering so much porn is explicitly demeaning to women and the industry is riddled with rape and human trafficking as well as basic health concerns, this seems to me to be a really weird term. I don’t see how this poster is “bad porn” either, what’s the distinction?

      • Shannon says:

        Sunflower, have a virtual cupcake for excellence in commenting.

        • Shannon says:

          I just realised that sounded sarcastic; it wasn’t!

          • Sunflower says:

            Thank you very much! I am terrible with sarcasm and would have taken it at face value regardless but I appreciate you making sure :) I love virtual cupcakes, or regular cupcakes, so yay! :D

  18. Hal Jordan says:

    Pretty much totally agree with the disgust here. Usually the design aesthetic for any given Soul Calibur game is “Elaborate, pretty, sort of historical period costumes + sexify the costumes for the ladies but don’t be obvious about it”. This is in your face pandering even for the Soul Calibur series. The only word to describe it is tasteless.

    If it makes you feel any better, the character creator is supposed to be incredibly robust, so making a character of any gender/orientation/whatever should be possible. Buy the game used, create the non-sexualized fighter of your dreams and have her/him beat the piss out of Ivy. Instant catharsis.

    Regardless of this tasteless ad or not, no. Soul Calibur was probably never in your target market. And while it’s a woeful, unfortunate truth that there are very little games that ARE friendly to your target market, not every game has to be. It’s okay for there to be games that aren’t, and this series is always going to be one of them hat isn’t. Here’s hoping new series come along that your target audience can wholeheartedly, unabashedly enjoy.

    • Nigel says:

      “Regardless of this tasteless ad or not, no. Soul Calibur was probably never in your target market.”

      To which “you” are you referring? Gamers are a diverse group of people, that is the point of sites like this. The only target market Namco Bandai should be considering is the group of people who enjoy fighting games. If they feel their game cannot compete on its merits with other fighting game series and must use sex to attract buyers, then I suggest they go the whole way and make an AO Soul Calibur for the people obviously targeted by this ad. At least then there would be truth in advertising.

      • Jean-Paul says:

        Yeah, I love fighting games, but this ad completely alienates me. I don’t want Soul Calibur to be another Dead or Alive, and it saddens me that the ad designers think I do.

    • KA101 says:

      Re: “instant catharsis”

      I had the privilege of playing SC2, gamecube version, with the owner having been pretty thorough in unlocking things.

      When I think of Ivy, I think of the person who has to put up with having Cervantes for a bio-father, was (luckily, IIRC) adopted into nobility, and leveraged that into not only managed to create (several?) animated swords but also do OK fighting in a rather complex suit–which (unfortunately) includes heeled shoes.

      I tend to think she’s a fairly good character–and then I get reminded that, being male, white, and not that far out of 18-25, I should like her because she gets assigned large breasts and default clothing that emphasizes them. But let’s make one thing clear: Ivy’s body isn’t her problem. If she was an actual person, it still wouldn’t be her problem: it’s just who she is. If she likes it, that’s what matters–though kyriarchal smog about how one “ought” to feel about one’s body makes that difficult for everyone.

      Unfortunately, she’s a fictional character and as such can’t consent to being pornified for commercial value. If she did exist as a person and chose to pose for porny video-game adverts, it might be worthwhile to discuss how choices like that are made, with emphasis on how people have to negotiate kyriarchal pressures and make difficult choices. However, it would still be Ivy’s hypothetical body and therefore Ivy’s hypothetical choice.

      As I stated, however, it’s not her body because Ivy doesn’t exist as a person. She doesn’t have personal agency and is, unfortunately, Namco’s creation. So beating her up with a less-endowed and/or more modestly dressed character might express jealousy and/or misogyny, but seems unlikely to convey any positive message to Namco, and certainly wouldn’t make me feel any better about how she’s portrayed.

      “Catharsis”, from my perspective, would involve Ivy making some fantastical game->reality transfer, re-educating the Namco marketing and character-design people–if not gamers generally–as to women’s agency, and going on to well, whatever she wants and can accomplish.

      File under “Things that are never going to happen because reality isn’t weird/magical/etc like that”, unfortunately, and thanks for your time & consideration.

  19. In reference to “bad porn”. I was speaking in a very general sense. I find above imagine I find to be extremely cheap, uninspired, poorly done attempt at sexual titillation. You can have titillating (and even objectifying and highly problematic) imagery that still displays some artistic skill and a sense of taste (see much of fan art for example) however I honestly don’t even see any attempt at any thing deeper then “look boobs”. I just find it to be failure on every level and insultingly so. In this context I meant “good porn” more as imagery that is not so blatantly tasteless, 1 dimensionally and that thinks so little of its target audience, as simply not poorly done, then a deeper political meaning. Also I should clarify my definition of porn included a lot of things people who’d classify differently i.e. erotic novels, erotic art work etc.

    But yes saying “good porn” is loaded with more meaning then that, so to give my opinion on that can of worms. I do believe their is such a thing as “good porn”, from a more political standpoint.

    “Considering so much porn is explicitly demeaning to women”.
    Agreed but it isn’t true of all porn. Mainly I was thinking of the porn I specifically reviewed, which was mainly women directed and not explicitly degrading to women. It is a minority I will not deny but such examples well never be anything more then that if they are not acknowledged.

    “the industry is riddled with rape and human trafficking”
    There is is a culture and environment that always sexual predators to flourish in the industry, on this I again agree, However, the majority of porn is made between freely consenting adults. That doesn’t change there needs to be change from both the industry as well as society as a whole (which stigmatize sex works greatly adding to the problem). However, again I don’t believe this is reason to boycott the whole industry, I believe this is reason to be an educated consumer and purchase from ethical companies.

    There are is porn that a) produces there films ethically b) Has some sense of social responsibility regarding the themes they portray. c) Has a sense of the erotic more evolved then just one dimensional display of body parts, the “here are some boobs” ad style above (which leads me back to what I was saying above). This is what I’d call good porn, I’d call it uncommon but I wouldn’t call it weird. Even this definition doesn’t necessarily mean feminist, I’m saying “good porn” more the way you would say “good movie” or “good ethics business practices” .

    If you want some an example Google Tristan Taormino as an example, in particular her educational series (I consider her more a sex educator then a pornography personally) has all the elements I mentioned.

    • Sunflower says:

      I don’t know if ethical porn exists. I don’t think right now any porn can be free of issues, like video games. I guess it’s up to each of us to decide for ourselves what we are willing to put up with. I googled the person you talked about and she works for Vivid, from what I can tell, which is definitely a problematic company.

      These are the questions I would ask myself about porn, and I hope you ask yourself this as well:

      Does it perpetuate a heteronormative cis white male view of sexuality with women who are mostly conventionally attractive or fetishized if otherwise?

      Does it have a negative impact on your relationship(s)?

      In our society, women are told we are valuable first and foremost for how we look and how sexually attractive we are. Can you be sure all women in porn have questioned this belief and are fully making informed choices, or are you taking part in a system that exploits that programming?

      A lot of women in the sex industry have been abused or raped in the course of their lives and sometimes their careers, or have been trafficked, or coerced into certain acts. Can you be sure each person in a porn film is truly there by full consent and has recovered fully from her abuse?

      If a woman creates porn, is it then something that’s free from sexism, racism, or other problems? Can you be sure the creator of the porn has questioned her existing assumptions and created something truly exploratory, cooperative, and positive?

      Are power dynamics in the porn openly discussed or is there subtle or outright coercion/humiliation that is not explicitly within a consensual framework?

      Is it a good idea to have “artsy” sexual depictions as the norm rather than showing honest sexual exploration with all the talking and communication that has to happen in order for everyone involved to feel safe and enjoy themselves?

      Is it a good idea to remove sex from context, like the above poster removes the head? Is there really a difference between selling a poster that shows a woman as a sex object and selling a movie that shows a woman as a sex object? Can a movie be made where a woman isn’t treated as a sex object if she’s having sex and being filmed?

      Is the health of the actors a prority and a responsibility of the creators?

      Are all the people involved genuinely enjoying themselves?

      Is the porn even about sex, or is it more about a performance designed around male issues and fears, catering to them and suppressing exploration of them?

      Is paying women for the use of their bodies inherently coercive? Would women do this work freely if they had enough money to live well on?

      If a few women enjoy creating porn, does it excuse the industry as a whole?

      Do you as the user feel respected by the material?

      I don’t need your answers, since I’m not the judge of your morality. I think porn should be questioned and examined as minutely as games or movies or anything else, because actual women are intimately involved and it’s essential to look at the reality of the industry without illusions. Right now I think our society has so many issues with sex that we simply can’t mass produce porn under the guise of sexual freedom. Maybe in isolated cases it can work, but I’m suspicious of “feminist porn” as I am of greenwashing.

  20. What the unholy hell is this bullshit???

    And I will NOT be buying Soul Caliber V.

    I am not going to lie, the less amount of clothing a character wears in a video games the female characters wear, the less likely I am to like said character, and the less likely I am to buy the video game. I’m tired of this underlying women = must be hot all the time crap. I’m tired of it. I’m done. My money goes to the gaming experience that I WANT.

    Screw this “get used to it because this is always how it’s been.” The shit was wrong was when it started, AND IT IS STILL WRONG NOW.

    • Sunflower says:

      I wouldn’t buy it either. I had some fun playing Soul Calibur long ago but it made me unhappy about the compromise then, and now there are too many games out there that are better and I feel better about supporting. I agree with you about how wrong it was and is, very much.

      • 0thello says:

        Your argument against precedence is duly noted but I am not a fan of equating the precedence of a specific character that is marketed in a specific way with slavery in its entirety.

        It’s disingenuous, the scales and the accompanying conversations are completely different. I understand you may not understand that. In future: leave it out.

        I expect this from my dumb friends whom I have to set right by planting my foot squarely between their lungs and colon but not here.

        Also don’t talk as if precedence is a bad thing, if not for certain precedence’s border house wouldn’t exist.

        Precedence is a non-issue; Boke18′s arguments should be stricken from the board of conversation because they end up as a stalemate at best and irrelevant at worst.

        This ad would better serve as a reminder of why this advertising is bad or ‘alienating’ to some of you.

        With that said: carry on.

        • Sunflower says:

          Is this a reply to me? I’m lost.

        • You are speaking to a black woman, Othello. So don’t you EVER insult my intelligence with such tone policing drivel again.

          My statement STILL stands. Sexism as background radiation is and always WILL be wrong, and I will leave it in any and every argument I so choose. It is YOU who made the connection to slavery. Not me.

          • Nathan of Perth says:


            I think Othello was trying to reply to the original article by Cuppycake and misclicked somewhere, since Cuppycake’s article contained the only mention of slavery on the page up until that point. At the very least that is the singular way I can make sense of what Othello posted.

            • 0thello says:

              You are correct. Nathan.

              Don’t worry “PlusSizedGamerWoman”: I’ve already forgiven and have forgetten everything you wrote.

  21. Mike says:

    What I find sad is that the new director working on Soul Calibur 5 was working very hard to reduce the amount of sexualization this serie suffers from. In fact, this was one of the first thing he said when the game was first announced, before it even had a trailer. They’ve reduced the breasts to realistic sizes, the women more clothes than in previous entries and they’ve modified the “armor breaking” mechanic so now only your helmet can break. And now they go and pull something like this… I don’t know what happened in-between, I would guess there is a lack of communication between the development team and the marketing team.

    • Sunflower says:

      From what I know of the game industry, there can be different teams handling different things, so it’s likely that kind of thing could happen. It’s great if the director is trying to get rid of some of that stuff, it must not be easy to push that forward.

  22. Jess says:

    This ad is bad enough, but it’s also worth mentioning the ad that followed next featuring Voldo – a close up on his uh, codpiece, with the word “curious?” written in Japanese above his stomach.

    Within a few days the ad was banned due too many complaints of it’s risque nature.

    (Google search “Voldo banned ad” for the picture)

  23. JoyfulToad says:

    I’m probably still gonna buy Soul Calibur V. This however makes rethink that decision.

Comments are closed.