4 December 2015

Beyond: Two Souls PS4 Dev Responds to "Upsetting" White-Washing Accusations

Beyond: Two Souls developer Quantic Dream has responded to accusations that various middle-eastern characters have been "white-washed" for its PlayStation 4 remaster of the game. The studio has described the claims as "upsetting" and explained the changes are the result of wider technical tweaks implemented for the re-release.

Images of characters from a scene set in a middle-eastern embassy posted by Digital Foundry noted that, compared to the PlayStation 3 original, some of the characters had a lighter skin tone. As mentioned by the publication, this change hasn't been effected on everyone in the scene, and numerous characters appear as they did in the original. In response, game director David Cage issued a statement to Eurogamer explaining the changes: "Beyond is a game featuring 300+ unique characters. The cast features many different races, including some Arab characters in the scene called The Embassy. The scene takes place in what is obviously a middle-eastern embassy, with characters who are obviously from the middle-east, wearing obviously Arabic clothes and speaking obviously Arabic.

"What was reported is that a couple of guards and passers-by in the Embassy appear to have a lighter skin compared to the original game, this is due to two reasons: 1. the lighting has changed, as well as the skin shader we use, leading to slightly lighter skins in general (which can also be seen on Jodie's white skin), [and] some black skins are a little bit darker (which has not been reported...). He continued: "2. All characters have been upgraded on the PS4 version compared to the PS3, which sometimes led to creating a new face that can be different from the previous one (as well as different clothes or accessories). The skin tone or type of few characters may have changed in the process, although only a couple of characters out of 300 have seen their skin getting slightly lighter (without changing their racial type to keep the consistency of the characterisation)."

Cage added that Quantic Dream is a studio that strives to encourage diversity in games, and this is something that is reflected in its studio culture.

"Talking about the skin colour of two guards in the context of a game like Beyond is absurd, and for me personally, upsetting," he said. "Quantic Dream has been actively promoting cultural, gender and racial diversity in all of its past and present games, as well as in our own company. Quantic Dream is a studio in which people from around the globe, of all races and religions work together and share the same passion for crafting meaningful emotional experiences.
"We sadly regret that we have to justify ourselves when the skin color of a passer-by has slightly changed for technical reasons, but we would like to reassure our fans and tell them that Quantic Dream will continue to promote racial and gender diversity in games, as well as positive human emotions and values."