Far Cry 6, the latest open-world game from Ubisoft, has drawn criticism from animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for its depiction of cockfighting.
Far Cry 6’s fictional island setting of Yara is heavily inspired by Cuba, where cockfighting is currently legally permitted. The blood sport involves pitting two or more birds against each other in an enclosed space to fight, usually to the death. Cuba's new animal welfare laws introduced in April kept the legality of the controversial sport intact, but betting on the outcome of a match has been illegal since 1959.
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Cockfighting is prominently featured in Far Cry 6 as a mini-game that players can compete in to earn additional money. Its in-game depiction is light-hearted in nature, with players choosing from a selection of unlockable birds and then battling it out in a clear homage to fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken.
While its inclusion in Far Cry 6 appears to be for comedic purposes, PETA has released a statement condemning the trivialization of a very cruel real-world blood sport. PETA’s Latino Senior Manager, Alicia Aguayo, said: “Turning a horrific blood sport like cockfighting into a Mortal Kombat–style video game match is a far cry from real innovation, as today's society is strongly opposed to forcing animals to fight to the death."
The statement continues: "Roosters used in cockfights are fitted with sharp spurs that tear through flesh and bone, causing agonizing and fatal injuries. PETA Latino urges Ubisoft to replace this reprehensible minigame with one that doesn't glorify cruelty."
It should be noted that Far Cry 6’s cockfighting mini-game is entirely optional. Players can progress through the game’s numerous missions and diverse side activities without participating. However, the game does incentivize players to try out cockfighting by awarding a PlayStation Trophy or Xbox/Steam Achievement after completing a match.
Far Cry 6 has been no stranger to controversy over the last few months. Prior to release, the game’s Narrative Director Navid Khavari told The Gamer that Far Cry 6 wasn’t trying to make a political statement, which lead to widespread backlash. A Ubisoft blog post was released shortly after to clarify that the game was in fact political in nature due to its subject matter of modern revolution.
As of writing, Ubisoft has yet to issue a similar statement defending its decision to include cockfighting in Far Cry 6. For now, the publisher may simply opt to ignore the calls for the mini-games removal unless they become more intense over the coming weeks.