Animal rights group PETA has labelled Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag's whaling mechanic as "disgraceful", and called for video game developers to stop creating games that "promote hurting and killing" animals.
"Whaling - that is, shooting whales with harpoons and leaving them to struggle for an hour or more before they die or are hacked apart while they are still alive - may seem like something out of the history books," PETA told VentureBeat in response to Assassin's Creed 4's announcement yesterday, "but this bloody industry still goes on today in the face of international condemnation, and it's disgraceful for any game to glorify it.
"PETA encourages video game companies to create games that celebrate animals - not games that promote hurting and killing them."
Though Ubisoft has yet to detail exactly how whaling plays a part in Assassin's Creed 4, the mechanic was referenced during the game's reveal event and in the first set of screens.
Animal hunting is nothing new to video games, of course.
Red Dead Redemption sees players hunting and skinning animals in order to sell their pelts. Tomb Raider - released today - also lets players hunt wildlife. I punched a squirrel in Crysis 3 over the weekend, too.
PETA has previously condemned video games for their treatment of animals.
In October last year, PETA criticised Nintendo for its Pokemon series.
"The amount of time that Pokemon spend stuffed in pokeballs is akin to how elephants are chained up in train carts, waiting to be let out to 'perform' in circuses," the organisation wrote on its website.
"But the difference between real life and this fictional world full of organized animal fighting is that Pokémon games paint rosy pictures of things that are actually horrible."