London-based journalist Helen Lewis appears in two in-game podcasts in the open-world title, in which she discusses the threat of fascism within the fictional game world.
Ubisoft acted quickly on the criticism, confirming in a statement supplied to Kotaku on Friday that it would remove two in-game podcasts featuring Lewis in a future Watch Dogs: Legion patch.
“We were made aware of controversial remarks from a journalist whose voice-over performance appears in two in-game podcasts in Watch Dogs: Legion,” a spokesperson said. “Neither Ubisoft nor the game reflect this journalist’s viewpoints.”
It added: “The development team worked with an external producer to select speaker profiles for these podcasts and were not aware of the controversy at the time of booking or recording.
“While the in-game podcasters are following a pre-approved script and are not speaking in their own name or with their own opinions, we understand this collaboration itself may be seen as offensive and we deeply regret any hurt this has caused.
“In response, we will be replacing these two podcast episodes in an upcoming update and will reinforce our background checks for partners in the future.”
On Saturday, Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt – another journalist featured in Watch Dogs: Legion’s podcasts – criticised Lewis’s removal, calling the move “utter cowardice”.
“The silencing of someone on all issues, even analysis of a fictional political universe, because people disagreed with what they said on another issue,” he said. “And worst of all, in an anti-fascist game. Wiping away someone’s voice in a software update: the digital equivalent of burning books.”
Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail responded: “She was entitled to hold and express her awful views. So were the people who hold and expressed their views on her abysmal views.
“So was the game which responded to being made aware of her despicable views. So are you in voicing support for or despite her disgusting views.”