Total War: Rome II is in the midst of controversy revolving around female general spawn rates and a community editor’s response to player criticism of the spawn rates.
The controversy began when Creative Assembly, the game developer of Total War: Rome II, made an update to the game back in March. In that update they rolled out their Desert Kingdoms Patch.
This patch not only introduced female leaders like Cleopatra and Teuta, but it also introduced major female characters to occupy social/political roles and even become generals in some factions.
However, controversy hit high gear back in August, when one user decided to let Creative Assembly know they would not be purchasing any more DLC (Downloadable Content) for the game. The user, SavageSavant, noted:
I’ve bought nearly every game and DLC that CA has produced for TW. But, There are way too many women in the game now. It looks plain silly.
Yes, I know ambitious woman made their mark throughout history.
But, they weren’t as prevalent as the game suggest.
Empire Divided Spams women as if all ancient nations were ruled via matriarchy.
Call me what you will, I could care less! Ima keep my $$ this time.”
This would see Creative Assembly’s Ella McConnell respond by essentially telling fans, players, and consumers to not purchase further additions to the game.
“Firstly, I’ll say it again: 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.”
Two things to take away from here. McConnell’s comment about the game being “historically authentic, not historically accurate” is an oxymoron. If you want to be authentic, then accuracy is a critical component of the game. The second takeaway is far worse and it follows suit in what many game developers appear to be doing. McConnell and Creative Assembly echoed EA’s former Chief Creative Officer Patricker Soderlund who also told potential consumers to not purchase Battlefield V. This is definitely not how you deal with customers who are unhappy with your product.
While McConnell’s response was absolutely terrible, the flames of controversy were fanned even further when a screenshot surfaced showing a large pool of female generals available for what appears to be the Egyptian faction.
Now, with some hard proof about the increased female general rate, fans began expressing their dissatisfaction by giving Total War: Rome 2 poor reviews on Steam. Right now Total War: Rome 2’s rating has a “Mostly Negative” standing.
In order to address the growing player dissatisfaction, Total War released a statement stating the actual spawn rates for female generals. They also confirmed that they did increase the availability of female generals if players increase their female family members via marriage.
They specifically note that female generals have between a 10 and 15% chance of becoming generals. However, the Greek States, Rome, Carthage, and some Eastern Factions have a 0% chance for female generals. However the Kush have a 50% chance.
Total War indicates “this is to broadly represent the cultural differences in those factions during the time the game is set.”
— Total War (@totalwar) September 25, 2018
Some Players and customers weren’t having it though. They were much more interested in Creative Assembly and Total War addressing McConnell’s statements about telling paying customers not to buy the game.
I mean, you should still address this silly “don’t play our game then” comment the community manager made.
— Fabian Müller (@Pretor1an) September 25, 2018
whatever, the main issue is with historical authenticity and dont play our game
accuracy and authenticity are synonims but i have a strange feeling that you are hiding some bullshit agenda beyond that PR talk
if you gonna go ‘our vesrion of history’ like Dice, just say it now pic.twitter.com/F99QbRLGQN
— The Most Spooky of Clan Rats Kolya (@ImperatorOfPuns) September 25, 2018
Telling potential customer not to buy your product is “just doing her job”? Well, we know you’ll never run a successful company…
— FromBeyondTheGrave (@FromBeyondTheG3) September 25, 2018
This in no way even attempts to respond to the actual problem, shutting down conversation and asking customers to not play the games they payed money for, i take this then as an endorsment by omission of Ella’s views pic.twitter.com/8QLMsJrK8h
— Arch Warhammer (@ArchWarhammer) September 25, 2018
Others wanted the spawn rates adjusted to be more accurate.
As for Kush, altough they had a more inclusive integration of women, compared to our times, than other cultures, i don’t know of any instance of appearing a female general in their records. Yet, for your gameplay purposes you should have their percentage at 5%
— Fahnat (@willoffahnat) September 25, 2018
Total War told them to use a mod:
There is a mod available that changes the percentages to 1 instead of 10 and 5 instead of 50 respectively.
— Total War (@totalwar) September 25, 2018
Should have been an option you can toggle on, instead of forcing it on everyone. I rather liked my historical accuracy and should not have to mod OUT forced diversity that should be something modded IN.
Also you should probably address (fire) your god awful community manager too
— Justin iZ Here (@Best_Lolicon) September 25, 2018
Nice way to alienate your customers, as others have suggested and they have merit, had these been optional, you wouldn’t be facing this backlash.
— TheRaven2378 (@TheRaven2378) September 25, 2018
Some people dismissed the concerns of these players and concerns and decided to label them as Nazis.
A single screenshot of all female generals in a something something led to some backlash and the nazis organized to bombard with negative reviews over historical inaccuracies, to which they don’t claim to be, as noncoinciding factions can fight. See @britishgaming for more detail
— Mitchel Wong ? EGX (@pengwndude) September 25, 2018
— Mundane (@MundanePixel) September 25, 2018
I hate Gamers.
— Daniel (@_ThreeArrows) September 25, 2018
How is this even a thing? People are upset about female generals in a GAME? Did they not have mothers? Sisters? Daughters? A few pixels in a game that resemble women have them going for the pitchforks?! This is a new kind of crazy. There are pills for that…
— Two Men (@TheTwoMen) September 25, 2018
This entire issue with Total War and certain people claiming that it’s just a case of “toxic” gamers hating women is insane.
First, Total War isn’t the first game to utilize women as leaders both on the battlefield and for nations. Games such as Sid Meier’s Civilization series have been doing this for years.
Just last night I was playing as Isabella, trying to retake the holy land in Civilization 5‘s Renaissance scenario. This game has been out for years, and there was no upheaval by fans.
Yeah, that was my face really last night since I got my butt kicked as multiple civilizations decided to take a wack at me.
But back to the issue at hand. It seems that if Total War developers handled how fans felt about the changes with a bit more tact then I don’t believe that they would have seen the pushback they are facing from their fans and customers.
Do the developers of Total War: Rome II have a point? Did fans go too far, and was what Community Manager Ella McConnell said correct? Or is this another case of a company trying to insult their fans to push an agenda?