Controversy has erupted following the release of PR imagery for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided that bears similarity to highly charged real-world incidents.
Eidos and Square Enix released set of concept art pieces depicting various cities - including Sydney, London, Berlin, and mystifyingly Blackpool - as they would appear in the game's cybernetically-enhanced future.
The controversy stems from a protest banner in the Moscow image that reads "Augs Lives Matters," echoing the Black Lives Matter movement that began in 2013; the Paris image also sports graffiti saying "les vies des augs comptent," which translates to the same message.
BioWare Montreal developer Manveer Heir took to Twitter to say "[Deus Ex developer] Eidos Montreal should be ashamed of themselves for appropriating a real black struggle and movement for financial gain."
Even if the issue were dealt with thoughtfully in-game, Heir said, "in advertising it is devoid of context and highly problematic."
Series brand marketer Andre Vu claimed the slogans' similarities were a coincidence, and that the slogan had been written before its real-world equivalent, while Heir replied that "someone [in marketing] should have been smart enough to say 'Let's not use that image.'"
Heir later qualified to Polygon that his issue "is not with a game tackling matters of segregation, civil rights issues, and apartheid; in fact I applaud games that try to tackle difficult political issues."
"My problem is with using marketing to push a narrative, which doesn't provide the full context of the game, as a way to sell the game, when that narrative comes across as anti-blackness, even if it's not intended to be."
Heir hopes his comments can "start a dialogue with black people in [the gaming] industry to better understand some of the issues that this fiasco has brought to light."
The game's PR department had previously garnered controversy through the use of the term "mechanical Apartheid," which inevitably drew comparisons to the historical, real-world oppression of black people in South Africa.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided releases August 23rd for new-gen consoles and PC.