Rumor: Activision Doesn't Think Female Leads Can Sell Games

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This makes perfect sense to me, considering that they are relying on test groups and Activision is run by a pack of douchebags.
Test groups are notorious for ruining good things. A lot of movies had really good endings to them until test groups came along and chose not to like them, at which point the studios forced the director to change the endings. I assume test groups do the same for games.
As for Activision being run by douchebags, I think that quality speaks for itself.

TestECull:
Uhh....apparently your definition of lead is pretty odd, because Chell is kinda the player character in Portal. And she's a chick. With boobies and everything.

Chell never speaks, and has about as much character development as the companion cube. Also, you only know she's a girl if you care to set up some portals to look in and find out.

tl;dr: Chell could be a midget bear and it wouldnt change Portal at all.

First;
http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/470146

Second;

Furious Styles:
Tomb Raider?
a lot of resident evil games?
metroid?
bayonetta?
no? okay, i must just be imagining things.

Aww, come on guys, I can't be the only one who remembers Perfect Dark, can I? That was a good example of a strong..ish female lead within a good...ish plot who was never portrayed as being inadequate or otherwise solely for being a woman. She could also be genuinely sexy rather than being falsely sexified.

Uh, obviously Activision doesnt know what the hell they are talking about

image

I guess it's easier to do with RPGs, but I really like having the choice of what gender I want to play, a la every Bioware game since...ever? But then I'm a woman gamer and no doubt wouldn't get a seat at an Activision focus group...

Well, lets take a look at some games with Female Leads.

FF 13 is one of the best selling Final Fantasy games ever.

Tomb Raider and Metroid are two of the most well known series of all time.

Perfect Dark is known as a classic by some gamers.

Resident Evil 5 has a playable female character and it sold very well despite the AI issues.

Oblivion, Mass Effect and Fallout all allow players to customize to a female character.

Your gender doesn't matter. I played True Crime: streets of LA and I liked the style and feel of it. Almost like it was out of a cheesy cop movie (Which I assume was what they were going for) and in my eyes, a Lucy Lue esque character would have worked. It would have been better then Snoop Dogg thats for sure.

I think it's funny that they actually are treating lead roles being female as a primary variable in a game's sales.

They could get over it by possibly making a good game with a male lead, essentially completing the game. They would then change the sex of the lead, and do over everything in the game directly having to do with the character's gender (i.e. voice acting, cutscenes...), and then release it. I'm sure it will be fine.

A very large percentage of male gamers are, for various reasons, uncomfortable with or unable to play a female character. However, they seem quite capable of playing some really effeminate male characters, which I suppose means they're comfortable as long as the dude is, under all that hair and gloss, a dude.

Everyone's got their preference on what they want to play, and most people by and large want to identify as closely as possible with the character on the screen, but I know, not everyone feels that way. I'll freely admit I play a mixture of both male and female in games where I'm allowed to pick.

I think Activision is right, male leads will sell more games. I wish it wasn't so, but they're just looking at what sells in the marketplace. Also, would you rather they have said they prefer selling more games that have female leads as sex objects?

This veers into some very thorny territory where just what makes an acceptable female character something that is more empowering or offensive. It's too bad there aren't more games that take the approach of most MMOs, but even single player games like Dragon Age or Mass Effect and let you pick the gender you want to play as. Of course, whenever you look at the ad copy for ME or DA, it's the male Sheppard or a male lead from DA.

Activision is now the new evil king of video-games! Sorry, EA, but not even your online charges for EA Sports games will top this! NOW It's time to light ACTIVISION on fire now! Life is grand!

You know, one point I haven't seen brought up is...

Gender doesn't sell games, good games sell games. I played Bayonetta for the same reason I played DMC, fun as hell, crazy gameplay. I played Xenosaga for the same reason I played 90% of the other RPGs out there, they fun. Valkyria Chronicles is fun cause its a unique twist on SRPGs, not because one of the most important characters is a chick (though you can argue the main is a male).

Oh, and why the hell hasn't anyone brought up KOS-MOS or Shion on this topic yet...?!

WrathOfBanja:

Chell never speaks, and has about as much character development as the companion cube. Also, you only know she's a girl if you care to set up some portals to look in and find out.

tl;dr: Chell could be a midget bear and it wouldnt change Portal at all.

That has NO bearing on the matter at hand. Activision says female leads don't sell games. Chell is a female lead and Portal sold like hotcakes.

Yes, Portal could have had a midget bear in her place. Or hell even a garbage truck. The game wouldn't have changed much. But it had a female human as a lead, and it sold like hotcakes.

Erego it's perfect for proving Activision quite wrong.

I'm going to have to assume that this rumor is false, because I don't like to assume that people are giant morons who are thick enough to believe that the gender of the main character determines its success rather than if the game is actually good.

I'm an optimist that way.

mattaui:
A very large percentage of male gamers are, for various reasons, uncomfortable with or unable to play a female character. However, they seem quite capable of playing some really effeminate male characters, which I suppose means they're comfortable as long as the dude is, under all that hair and gloss, a dude.

Mainstream example?

The title of the article is severely misleading, especially considering the content of the article. In fact, I would say the article is far more sexist than Activisions practices.

This is just so absurd. The article title could have just as easily of been titled "Activision Doesn't Think White Men Leads Can Sell Games."

Absurdity. Now just about every response in this thread has been a list of female characters in games... AS IF the female character was the reason the game was bought.

If anyone really thinks people bought Metroid/Portal/Resident Evil/Mirror's Edge/Whatever other game because it had a female lead... you're just an absurd sexist plain and simple.

Huh. I thought they sell more.

I'd have been much more likely to have bought that "Black Orchid" game than any true crimes game.
Female main characters only put off frat-boys, not proper people :)
A choice of main characters might have been a way round this sort of problem in some games.

TestECull:
That has NO bearing on the matter at hand. Activision says female leads don't sell games. Chell is a female lead and Portal sold like hotcakes.

So you're saying that the main character being a female is the reason the game sold? Because, that's exactly what you wrote. Are you saying that Portal wouldn't have sold well if it had a male as the main character?

Because, that's the most absurd thing I've ever heard.

There is no causation there.

Flamezdudes:
Firstly, in my opinion Lightning isn't even the lead character in FFXIII since she isn't seen more than others and isn't focused on more than others, she is just shown on the box art and is the first character you see, other than that everyone is evenly distrubuted in terms of screen time.

Well did you buy (or rent, or whatever) the game thinking Lightning was the main character?

Eh? Since when do female leads not sell games? Look at Mass Effect! Shepard's a woman, and that game sold great!

Whatever, Let Activision think whatever they want.

Funny sh*t from Activision again. They've certainly taken the fun out of making games, as they said they would.

If anything rumours always have some merit since they start somewhere.
OT: At this point iv given up on Activion to make any good or human decision, unless there is a lot of money involved. Since their making too much money from WoW and MW2 they've tasted a river of gold and will never let go.

I don't want to be yelled at or anything (especially when I probably won't even get back to see it) but I don't think I'd play a woman in a GTA style game. Maybe a female lead thrown into Call of Duty would be a good change, but I just don't play as women in GTA, various RPGs, etc etc because I seem to see a direct correlation between looking cool and being male (I am a male, I like to play as a male, and yes. I do like to look cool in video games as lame as it sounds).

While there have been famous female leads, I think it depends more on genre, themes, and such.
Samus was a 'guy' for most of the games from what I've seen.
Lara Croft is in adventure games.

(Sorry, only read the first page I'm in a hurry.)

TestECull:

WrathOfBanja:

Chell never speaks, and has about as much character development as the companion cube. Also, you only know she's a girl if you care to set up some portals to look in and find out.

tl;dr: Chell could be a midget bear and it wouldnt change Portal at all.

That has NO bearing on the matter at hand. Activision says female leads don't sell games. Chell is a female lead and Portal sold like hotcakes.

Yes, Portal could have had a midget bear in her place. Or hell even a garbage truck. The game wouldn't have changed much. But it had a female human as a lead, and it sold like hotcakes.

Erego it's perfect for proving Activision quite wrong.

No, its really not. Chell didnt sell Portal. Portal's unique gameplay sold Portal. Chell's female status was completely unimportant.
So yes, my post did have bearing on the matter at hand, because it shows how Portal is a completely terrible example for proving Activision wrong.

Credge:

So you're saying that the main character being a female is the reason the game sold? Because, that's exactly what you wrote. Are you saying that Portal wouldn't have sold well if it had a male as the main character?

Because, that's the most absurd thing I've ever heard.

There is no causation there.

WrathOfBanja:

No, its really not. Chell didnt sell Portal. Portal's unique gameplay sold Portal. Chell's female status was completely unimportant.
So yes, my post did have bearing on the matter at hand, because it shows how Portal is a completely terrible example for proving Activision wrong.

Activision said games with female leads don't sell. Portal has a female lead, it sold like crazy.

Whether or not it was vital to the game to have said female lead never came up until people here brought it in.

Thorvan:
First;
http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/470146

Second;

Furious Styles:
Tomb Raider?
a lot of resident evil games?
metroid?
bayonetta?
no? okay, i must just be imagining things.

Aww, come on guys, I can't be the only one who remembers Perfect Dark, can I? That was a good example of a strong..ish female lead within a good...ish plot who was never portrayed as being inadequate or otherwise solely for being a woman. She could also be genuinely sexy rather than being falsely sexified.

Okay, assuming that Activision actually said any of this (I mean, can we really trust 'sources'?)
Look at all of the examples you list:
Sex Object, Sex Objects, Didn't Even Know She Was A Woman, Sex Object

And really, even if we didn't dismiss them as such, we're really going in a faulty direction here since really the claim isn't that female leads CAN'T be successful, just that they are less successful than male leads, and there you have friction. What we'd really need to see is roughly equivalent games with male and female leads and seeing how they sell, and that's a hard thing to measure. Yes Portal was a success, but that (IMO) owed very little to Chell being female or male. A game like, say, Gears of War or Starcraft 2 though is very heavily geared towards its male lead being a tough macho-manchild. Those games are selling well, so that's what they're trying to imitate.

Of course, though, like most marketing paradigms, it's primarily wrong and built on reactionary "we know what works" style, and assuming the entire consumer base is Carl from Aquateen.

*Insert foot into mouth here* Activision, you guys are idiots.

Activision: Pulling excuses for why their games fail since.. forever.

As a woman, I'll give 'em an earful of my rage, but I have to wait...about another two weeks.

While it is true that perhaps a male character sells better than a female character, a female lead can still very easily sell games. Not to mention that it's gameplay and story that count.

Well, I could rattle off a lot of my favorite female characters but most have been named, so I'll stick with the ones that didn't have to overload the sex appeal valve. Keeps me from naming half of the DoA cast.

Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark)
Kate Archer (No one lives forever)
Samus Aran (Metroid)
Alex Roivas (Eternal Darkness)
Yue Ying (Dynasty Warriors series)
Mona da Lafiette (A Vampyre Story)

P.S: I would love to see Rockstar work a female lead into one of their games.

Wait, you mean to tell me publishers will rely on market research in the vain hopes of selling more copies rather than listening to their developers? And they stifle creativity? What a shock! I am so shocked. I am emitting a tangible aura of shock to all around me.

In all fairness, though, the gaming population at large has shown some pretty depressing trends when it comes to their purchasing power, so I wouldn't be surprised if their thoughts were true and that female leads do actually sell less. I don't think that's really the case, and I'd love to see more female leads, but it wouldn't surprise me.

TestECull:

Credge:

So you're saying that the main character being a female is the reason the game sold? Because, that's exactly what you wrote. Are you saying that Portal wouldn't have sold well if it had a male as the main character?

Because, that's the most absurd thing I've ever heard.

There is no causation there.

WrathOfBanja:

No, its really not. Chell didnt sell Portal. Portal's unique gameplay sold Portal. Chell's female status was completely unimportant.
So yes, my post did have bearing on the matter at hand, because it shows how Portal is a completely terrible example for proving Activision wrong.

Activision said games with female leads don't sell. Portal has a female lead, it sold like crazy.

Whether or not it was vital to the game to have said female lead never came up until people here brought it in.

You're missing the point... Or you're just trollin me. Either way, I give up. I cant make my point any clearer.

I have no problem with female main characters, so long as they aren't like Dead Space: Downfall's lead. Women so pumped up on adrenaline and testosterone, with such graty, annoying, and swear filled voices the only way you can tell they're not a man is by checking between their legs.

I know this is meant to make her seem like "Just one of the guys", but it doesn't work at all. I vastly prefer someone reminiscent of L4D's Zoey, a funny, slightly feminine character that doesn't scream like a banshee, swear like a sailor or bark like a drill sergeant.

Well, gee. Maybe that's because very few games can actually pull off a female lead.

Seriously, the bulk of games that feature female characters as their main protagonist have a lot in common with X-Blades and Bayonetta. Why?

Because the industry has this idea that the only women gamers want to see are the ones with their assets hanging out. I see enough of that in my day job. I want strong, relateable female characters that "can do all that men can do" while still remaining a woman.

Don't think it can be done? Check FemShep from Mass Effect. Or Jen Mui from the first Mercenaries. How about f-ing Samus?

As if I needed more evidence that Activision has their head and rectum transposed.

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