Kakao Games made changes to the Korean subtitles to the dialogue, but not the English version.
The changes were made as the company thought it could provoke female players and feminists, but the move was met with strong backlash from male gamers who led a large-scale boycott of the game resulting in a drastic decline in sales.
The controversy has been heightening just one month before the company is scheduled to go public on Sept. 11.
Kakao Games has partnered with U.S. game developer Kong Studios on the release of "Guardian Tales." The Korean company is in charge of marketing and distribution of the product, while the U.S. company developed the software.
According to the industry, male gamers have shown opposition to the updates made to "Guardian Tales," claiming the game companies have taken excessive "precautionary measures" out of concern of provoking feminists.
One of the female characters in the game calls out another female character with the phrase "You whore" which led some to question if the term was appropriate for a game targeting players in the 12 years and older market. Recently, the translation of the term was changed to "You clown."
"I think there is a radical feminist within Kakao Games," a commenter wrote in an online game community.
"It will be hard for Guardian Tales to recover from the incident," another commenter posted. "I was a fan of Guardian Tales until the feminism controversy. I stopped playing now."
A boycott movement named "Femi Hunting" is spreading among male gamers who oppose feminism within gaming.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea says gaming companies caving in to these pressures and disadvantaging employees to resolve the issue is a violation of human rights.
However, there have been some personnel reshuffles within the Kakao Games "Guardian Tales" staff, with a few employees taking the blame for the mishap.
"The Guardian Tales Korean division has caused much distrust and disappointment among users. We know no matter what we do, it will be difficult for us to regain that trust, so we decided to replace our current Guardian Tales staff in Korea," Lee Shi-woo, head of operations of "Guardian Tales" at Kakao Games, said in a statement.
Previously "Guardian Tales" had been a hit, with the game having a rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars on the Google Play Store and over 10,000 reviews, but after the controversy the rating dropped drastically.
The boycott has even started to take a toll on sales.
According to market research firm App Annie, Monday, Guardian Tales recorded fifth in sales on Google Play but dropped to 24th by midnight on the same day.
source: The Korea Times