Just recently, we reported that a rather raunchy rhythm game called Massage Freaks would be making its way to the Nintendo Switch very soon on August 4th. Well, it looks like that won’t be happening anymore, as extensive online backlash has resulted in publisher qureate delaying the title indefinitely.
As reported by Automaton, folks were quick to take note of the game’s depiction of women and the apparent similarity to reported sex crimes in massage parlours in Japan. Specifically, it was noticed that the in-game characters shared the same forenames as members of the Japanese idol group ‘Hinatazaka46′. It’s unknown as to whether this particular controversy is the specific cause of the delay, as qureate has opted not to elaborate on the reasoning, despite quickly altering the characters’ names.
According to qureate, the delay has been decided as a result of “discussions with related parties”, with all pre-orders of the game cancelled as a result. At the time of writing, Massage Freak’s official website is now down, along with the Japanese, American, and European eShop pages. The company has also stated that it will proceed with legal action against false rumours or malicious online posts that may obstruct its business.
Prior to the delay, qureate responded to online backlash for Massage Freaks by requesting that users send feedback directly to itself while indicating its intention to make changes. According to Automaton, users were apparently directing criticism to Nintendo for allowing the game onto the eShop, which may have prompted qureate’s response.
This isn’t the first time qureate has come up against online backlash, either. Earlier this year, its tower defence game Duel Princess was delisted from the Switch eShop and Steam, with qureate again neglecting to elaborate on the reasoning (though much like its back catalogue, Duel Princess featured scantily clad women throughout). The game became available on PC at a later date, but required users access an alternative storefront to download it.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated on this ongoing matter, including whether Massage Freaks eventually makes its way back to the Switch eShop. In the meantime, share your thoughts on the delay in the comments below and keep in mind our Community Rules.
I think what they may be going for is erotic embarrassment, which yes in real life if explored absolutely requires that it be safe, sane, and consensual. No question. However, a lot of people engaging in this would also enjoy roleplaying scenarios around it. I think for some fictional content it allows you to just jump to the scenario. I suppose they could have a game where the people are negotiating the roleplay up front, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but I can see how it feels unnecessary in fictional media too. You already know it’s make believe/play, from the beginning.
People learning any bad behaviors from content is bad, of course, but the goal is for it to only end up being played by those mature enough to have a good time and keep respecting their fellow humans.
I am a submissive in the BDSM community myself with experience in social spaces for it. I’ve seen people consensually beaten up, tied up, degraded, locked in cages by others and have consensually been there/participated in scenes myself.
I do understand where you’re coming from, I just want to add the perspective that there can exist people that are into this dynamic that aren’t human garbage. I wouldn’t have a problem with them changing it to make it explicitly consensual, either. That’s fine by me!
Let me put it this way.. Do I expect safety from assault when I go anywhere in society? Yes! Duh. Absolutely!
Do I find the power dynamic of a fictional situation where someone has power over me with sexual connotations appealing? Also yes.
Do I like rhythm games? Yes!
Is assault bad? Yes!
Is consent important? Very.
Was it stupid of them to use the names of real people? Yep!
It’s possible for all of these feelings to exist simultaneously.
That being said, people are allowed to feel uncomfortable about it too. And Nintendo is completely within their right to accommodate those people and not allow the game on their platform. It is their platform. The same is true if they decide to release it one day, it’s their platform and their call. I hope it releases somewhere eventually. I doubt it’ll be my favorite game ever, but I’d like to give it a try and I had a pre-order for it.
@Ogbert I have a very minor disagreement only that I don’t think it’s necessary in the context of a game since it’s already “play/fiction/fantasy” it’s in the same territory as ‘roleplay’ by default, but that’s just a personal opinion. It is kind of an “in a vacuum” type of argument though, and no media exists in one I will concede. I don’t have a problem with making it clear it’s consensual upfront either though, I’m just nitpicking for conversation. So by all means- I support it. It’s what we do in real life, communicate, consent, start the scene so why not do it here too. Heck, racing games sometimes have reminders to follow the rules of the road and keep the dangerous driving to the game. Reminders and contextualization can go a long way without detracting.