Epic: Female Gears protaganist 'tough to justify' due to sales implication...

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 15 NEXT
 

Well, just when I thought the games industry couldn't get any more backwards and downright stupid, along comes Epic with yet another reason for me to bury my head in my hands. Gamespot posted an article (taken from an OXM interview) where Chris Perna, art director at Epic, talks about the potential for Gears to one day have a female main character. Here's the article:

Art director Chris Perna says idea for female hero is "interesting," but unlikely due to negative sales implications. Gears of War 3 brought female playable characters to the franchise for the first time, but it is unlikely that a lady would ever be a protagonist in a future installment.

That's according to Epic Games art director Chris Perna, who told OXM that a future Gears of War game with a female lead would hurt the title's sales potential.

"That's certainly interesting but I don't know," Perna said. "If you look at what sells, it's tough to justify something like that."

Perna also spoke about positive reactions female gamers have had to Epic's portrayal of women in past Gears of War titles at cosplay events.

"They feel empowered," he said. "They put on that armor and they walk around with these massive weapons and I think they get a kick out of it; I get a kick out of seeing it.

"From what we've heard, when they play the game they feel empowered and they feel good," Perna added. "Some of the feedback I've heard from women that I talk to is that if we'd made these women more feminine and more stereotypical it wouldn't have been so nice."

Link

So there you have it ladies. The reason you won't be seeing a female Gears protagonist anytime soon is because your gender is actively holding back sales of games. After all, it's not like Tomb Raider, Portal, Lollipop Chainsaw, The Longest Journey and Mirror's Edge were all succesful games with female main characters, right? Right?

I think the real problem here is that Epic decided to market Gears as the most testosterone fuelled of bromances. Maybe if the whole thing didn't feel like one massive dick-swinging contest between a bunch of meat-headed gorillas, having a female main character wouldn't feel so out of place. I mean, it's kind of a problem if your game setting is so skewed towards male power fantasy that even the idea of having a female lead could negatively impact on sales. Comic books are primarily marketed towards teenage boys, and they still manage to make room for female superheroes (though that has had negative implications in itself).

I dunno... the idea that simply the presence of a female lead could negatively hurt sales really gets my goat. Not only does it say bad things about the games themselves, but also the type of gamers they're being marketed for. Gaming already has enough of an issue with how we treat the different genders, and stuff like this just seems to be adding fuel to the fire. Thoughts?

EDIT

I'm editing the OP in order to respond to all the posters who seem to think even the idea of putting females in Gears would hurt the bromance, and by definition hurt sales:

Epic have already put women in Gears. Gears 3 had two women in prominent supporting roles. Not "Voice in the ear, giving you objectives" support, but actual "gun in hand, kicking the shit out the Locust as a COG soldier" support.

Not only that, but the upcoming Gears Judgement revolves around a four man squad where one of the key members is a woman.

So Epic have certainly not got a problem putting women in supporting roles, even if that means giving them the same power armour and chainsaw guns as the men. If that's the case, I fail to see why it's so objectional to potentially make such an ass-kicking, gun-toting woman the lead in a Gears game. It smack of unintended sexism, in that it says women can have supporting roles in the Gears games, but they can't step up and lead a game themselves.

That is what I take issue with.

Well yes he has a rather odd view on things considering gender but then again most of our society does.
But why would they swap their main character all of a sudden, if people keep coming back to the series it stands to reason they like the setup and you shouldn't fuck with it, I certainly wouldn't appreciate someone messing with my favorite characters.

Mr.K.:
Well yes he has a rather odd view on things considering gender but then again most of our society does.
But why would they swap their main character all of a sudden, if people keep coming back to the series it stands to reason they like the setup and you shouldn't fuck with it, I certainly wouldn't appreciate someone messing with my favorite characters.

Was Marcus so deep a character that he could never be replaced?

Mr.K.:
Well yes he has a rather odd view on things considering gender but then again most of our society does.
But why would they swap their main character all of a sudden, if people keep coming back to the series it stands to reason they like the setup and you shouldn't fuck with it, I certainly wouldn't appreciate someone messing with my favorite characters.

They're already changing the main character with the latest Gears, seeing as it's a prequel or something.

And I wouldn't say it's necessarily just a 'society' thing. Society has actually been making a whole load of progress on the whole Gender Equality front. It's not perfect, but if you compare it to how things were fifty years ago, massive strides have been made.

For me, I can't help thinking that this kind of shows how insular game development is. I mean, with the frankly ludicrous hours that game developers have to put into their projects, it stands to reason that they don't get much chance to socialise, and you can kind of see it in a lot of their comments. There's this, then there was that whole thing with Deep Silver over the 'feminist whore' debacle, as well as the Dead Island 2 statuette... it's like a lot developers don't really get what women are, because they're so chained to their desks that they never get to meet or talk with any.

Maybe that's just me making the worst sort of generalisation about developers, but when stuff like this keeps happening, you have to wonder...

You know, this is probably why I always make female characters in RPG games that let me select gender.

The idea of a woman who takes names and kicks arse is a huge selling point for me, because we don't see it very often.

I still can't believe game sales are influenced by the genetalia of the character on the front of the box, this is 2013 for fucks sake, we should have jetpacks.

equal opportunities jetpacks!

To be honest, I'd kinda like to have a female protagonist in whatever comes next for the Gears franchise. There aren't nearly enough badass action girls in shooters.

They should make a protagonist that looks feminine but when they take of their suit they are actually male as a halfway concession sorta like the opposite of Samus.

I think they should make the next protagonist Jack Cayman personally.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Maybe that's just me making the worst sort of generalisation about developers, but when stuff like this keeps happening, you have to wonder...

Well it no doubt shows that these people are nerds and not good at social stuff, but their awkwardness is far too often mistaken for hatred and all sorts of shenanigans.
That Dead Island stuff is a clear example, yes the DI guys were first thinking boobs and PR later but that doesn't express I'll intent just their horny shortsightedness, however the press exploded with gender war flames going higher then ever.
Same with Cyberpunk, the moment there was a lady shot at in the trailer the torches were lit and people didn't even fucking bother to watch what context it was in.

The Gears guys just consider their franchise as a boys adventure it seems, the public would equally object if the next Charlie's Angels movie was about 4 dudes or if the next A-Team series is about 4 women, or aliens for that matter, people make a certain frame of reference for a series and if you break it then there will be discontent.

It probably would...

Reasonable compromise, maybe? Epic should make a new IP with a female protagonist.

It's unpopular opinion time!

There are two ways of thinking about the dilemma of a lack of female protagonists in games. One is that there should be more ladies on the front cover on the grounds of equality and progressive thinking, to hell with whether or not it might result in slightly less money. The other is, if the choice is between two protagonists, where one runs the risk of slightly less money and the other provides a reliably safe, high amount of income, you should disregard progressive thinking because it's potentially less profitable.

Epic's one priority is to make money. Don't hate them for it. Why should they be the ones paving the way and taking the risks?

Personally, I think it'd be interesting to have an all-lady squad in a shooter, such as GoW, just to see if blokes are put off playing it.

Well, Gears of War does have one of the most heartfelt and feel-good Duderomances I've ever seen in a game.

After all, having a couple of chicks in the mix might destroy what this game has worked so hard to become: A love story between 4 sweaty and calloused men.

Clearly, Epic would rather keep things this way. And who can blame them? Would Gears of War really be Gears of War if it involved a woman protagonist? It was almost utterly destroyed in Gears of War 3 when Anya and Sam were around... luckily the impenetrable lovebond between Marcus and Dom proved to be immune to the disturbances of women. Good for them.

Mr.K.:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Maybe that's just me making the worst sort of generalisation about developers, but when stuff like this keeps happening, you have to wonder...

Well it no doubt shows that these people are nerds and not good at social stuff, but their awkwardness is far too often mistaken for hatred and all sorts of shenanigans.
That Dead Island stuff is a clear example, yes the DI guys were first thinking boobs and PR later but that doesn't express I'll intent just their horny shortsightedness, however the press exploded with gender war flames going higher then ever.
Same with Cyberpunk, the moment there was a lady shot at in the trailer the torches were lit and people didn't even fucking bother to watch what context it was in.

Unintended sexism is just as bad as intended sexism, in both cases one gender is subjected to negative views on who they are, solely based on their gender. I personally didn't care much for either the Riptide CE-debacle or the woman in the Cyberpunk video (but, let's be honest, she is practically wearing lingerie and nothing else which sends some really strange vibes in an otherwise excellent conceptual trailer).

Mr.K.:

The Gears guys just consider their franchise as a boys adventure it seems, the public would equally object if the next Charlie's Angels movie was about 4 dudes or if the next A-Team series is about 4 women, or aliens for that matter, people make a certain frame of reference for a series and if you break it then there will be discontent.

And this I totally agree with. It isn't up to every single game developer to make a perfect 50/50 division of gender in their games but rather up to the industry as a whole to make sure women gets balanced portrayals. If one franchise is based on macho bromance it doesn't make sense to change it up with a female lead just as it doesn't make sense to suddenly introduce Lane Croft as a replacement for Lara Croft in order to gender diversify Tomb Raider.

Isn't it a known thing that female protagonists don't sell as well? I've heard it said that it's down to audience perception and wants, and I've also heard it said that publishers just won't back up projects with female protagonists with the same marketing budgets.

If either is true, he has a good point. If both are true, then he's surely undeniably making sense.

I don't see the problem.

Odgical:

Epic's one priority is to make money. Don't hate them for it. Why should they be the ones paving the way and taking the risks?

Personally, I think it'd be interesting to have an all-lady squad in a shooter, such as GoW, just to see if blokes are put off playing it.

Sorry, but I don't think that holds water. Unintended sexism doesn't get a free pass if it makes someone money. Toy companies used to make money off golliwog dolls, but they're still horrible toys that contributed towards negative feelings towards black people in America.

Making money is no longer an excuse when it comes at the cost of belittling, patronising or downright insulting an entire gender. Companies have standards, and they should be held to those standards.

Sexual Harassment Panda:
Isn't it a known thing that female protagonists don't sell as well? I've heard it said that it's down to audience perception and wants, and I've also heard it said that publishers just won't back up projects with female protagonists with the same marketing budgets.

If either is true, he has a good point. If both are true, then he's surely undeniably making sense.

I don't see the problem.

Tomb Raider. Lara Croft. Most recognisable character from the PS1 console. Two feature films starring Angelina Jolie. Massive pop culture icon. Game series that's nearly two decades old. Millions upon millions of games sold.

Female protagonist.

i was waiting for someone to make a topic about this article, saw it a couple a days ago on 4chan, in other words, you're late op.

anyway on topic: my opinion is that you really shouldn't have to justify something most of the time, hence forth if they want to make a female character go ahead and do that, if you don't want to then go ahead and keep the phoenix I guess.

Eh.

I dont care whom is the main character, I rather want to know about the game itself.

Main character+ all other character+ history can wait. Gameplay first (And for the matter, other stuff such as sound music and visual go after this as well)...

So I am not oppossed nor I NECESARILY wat more female protagonists. I guess it would be good...not bad, not good either. Again I care more about the game itself! :)

Mikejames:

Was Marcus so deep a character that he could never be replaced?

Well, without Marcus we would've never had MARCUS' DAD who is the best character written in everything that could be classified as writing.

MARCUS' DAD!

It's cuz females can't look sexy in big, hulking power armour... Think, man!

As much as I enjoy the occasional time there is a female protagonist in a game, I can see where he's coming from.

Now the reason may well be that nobody buys them because nobody makes them, but I would hardly say that Lollipop Chainsaw, The Longest Journey and Mirror's Edge were massive sellers.

Trust me, I definitely wouldn't mind seeing more female protagonists, or hell anyone other than the usual american male (often voiced by Nolan North), but in terms of sales, the guy has a point.

Girl? Eww!

There is no way for them to make a female Gears protsgonist in which it will end well . No , possible , way , they can do it properly and have it make sense and not offend EVERONE .

As for me ? I don't even see the problem . Women want to see more women protagonists? Then those same people are complain should become developppers and make games according to their artistic view.

Not that i care eitherway . I'll just watch as the gaming industry go up in flames due to everyone bitching and moaning about everything .

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Tomb Raider. Lara Croft. Most recognisable character from the PS1 console. Two feature films starring Angelina Jolie. Massive pop culture icon. Game series that's nearly two decades old. Millions upon millions of games sold.

Female protagonist.

Sadly it is easier to say 'the game failed because the protagonist was female' (or change 'game' with 'movie') instead of just admitting thait either the story or gameplay was lacking (or plain shit). Well, at least as an analyst.

There are many instances of franchises that were born on the shoulders of female characters. Alien, Metroid and Tomb Raider (though Tomb Raider was more or less founded on Laras pyramid tits, did I mention how much I look forward to the new Tomb Raider where she finally looks appealing?) are a few that spring to mind. Then there are games which give you choice in gender of the main character / your avatar (MMORPGs, Saints, Pokemon, The Elder Scrolls and many, many more). And finally we have... fanservice games. DoA jiggles to mind.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Sexual Harassment Panda:
Isn't it a known thing that female protagonists don't sell as well? I've heard it said that it's down to audience perception and wants, and I've also heard it said that publishers just won't back up projects with female protagonists with the same marketing budgets.

If either is true, he has a good point. If both are true, then he's surely undeniably making sense.

I don't see the problem.

Tomb Raider. Lara Croft. Most recognisable character from the PS1 console. Two feature films starring Angelina Jolie. Massive pop culture icon. Game series that's nearly two decades old. Millions upon millions of games sold.

Female protagonist.

I know it can be done, but that's one of a very select few examples, isn't it? The fact that you can point to a series(that seems to be a bit of an anomaly) doesn't negate actual market research that people in the biz do. I am guessing a little that they do relevent research, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't(very very surprised).

He only really claimed that focusing on a female protagonist in the Gears franchise would likely be detrimental to profit. I think he's very probably right. It's not at all an outlandish claim.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Tomb Raider. Lara Croft. Most recognisable character from the PS1 console. Two feature films starring Angelina Jolie. Massive pop culture icon. Game series that's nearly two decades old. Millions upon millions of games sold.

Female protagonist.

Or of course Samus. Then again, people don't seem to give a shit that Samus is a woman, mostly because her games lock her in that genderless Power Suit for the entire duration of them. That's another problem I have with writing women in games: there is NO indicator that they're different from men. Every time someone tries to write a female character as actually FEMININE, people throw a goddamned hissy fit that basically equates to "ew, icky girl things!". Dear Buddha, people, get the fuck over your cooties. The West is especially guilty of this as you could swap out 90% of the female characters they write with a dude and there'd be NO appreciable difference. That's another reason I think Epic is trying to bullshit their way with why they don't have female protagonists: they have NO fucking clue how to write women properly. It's kind of odd how Japan is the one who is far more progressive and varied with their female characters then the West is.

Tohuvabohu:
Well, Gears of War does have one of the most heartfelt and feel-good Duderomances I've ever seen in a game.

After all, having a couple of chicks in the mix might destroy what this game has worked so hard to become: A love story between 4 sweaty and calloused men.

Clearly, Epic would rather keep things this way. And who can blame them? Would Gears of War really be Gears of War if it involved a woman protagonist? It was almost utterly destroyed in Gears of War 3 when Anya and Sam were around... luckily the impenetrable lovebond between Marcus and Dom proved to be immune to the disturbances of women. Good for them.

Sexual Harassment Panda:

I know it can be done, but that's one of a very select few examples, isn't it? The fact that you can point to a series(that seems to be a bit of an anomaly) doesn't negate actual market research that people in the biz do. I am guessing a little that they do relevent research, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't(very very surprised).

He only really claimed that focusing on a female protagonist in the Gears franchise would likely be detrimental to profit. I think he's very probably right. It's not at all an outlandish claim.

Samus. Metroid. A franchise which predates Doom by several years, and thus was arguably the first game to cement the idea of a power-armoured space marine (or bounty hunter, in this case) kicking alien ass. Where Samus went, the entire industry followed. And while Samus was never as overt in her femininity as Lara Croft, the series as a whole still touched on distinctly feminine themes of motherhood. All while managing to sell a shitload of units in the US, and co-creating the Metroidvania genre of games. Seriously, Metroid, Super Metroid and Metroid Prime are all regularly hailed as some of the most successful, influential games of all time.

When you've got Metroid, Tomb Raider and Portal all achieving spectacular success, then you have to wonder whether this 'female hero' thing is as big a stumbling block as developers make it out to be. It just takes effort, that's all, same as any other kind of game. Again, those are all series where the main characters have achieved pop culture success. Not just success in that they sold a few million units. People who aren't even into games recognise the Metroid, Tomb Raider and Portal series. If those games can manage it, there's no reason why others couldn't as well. And it just makes the guy at Epic look like a bit of an ass.

Aiddon:
SNIP

Again, with Metroid, while they kept Samus as a fairly blank slate character, the Metroid series did progressively include more and more overt themes of motherhood, a distinctly feminine theme. Remember the baby Metroid? Mother Brain? Simple as the games were back in the SNES days, there was a lot of subtext going on behind the pixels.

Casual Shinji:
It's cuz females can't look sexy in big, hulking power armour... Think, man!

image

So did they just ignore Samus and Lara Croft or did they forget about them?

ForgottenPr0digy:

Tohuvabohu:
Well, Gears of War does have one of the most heartfelt and feel-good Duderomances I've ever seen in a game.

After all, having a couple of chicks in the mix might destroy what this game has worked so hard to become: A love story between 4 sweaty and calloused men.

Clearly, Epic would rather keep things this way. And who can blame them? Would Gears of War really be Gears of War if it involved a woman protagonist? It was almost utterly destroyed in Gears of War 3 when Anya and Sam were around... luckily the impenetrable lovebond between Marcus and Dom proved to be immune to the disturbances of women. Good for them.

That reminded me of the snarkiest and yet one of the funniest scenes in the whole franchise.

Aiddon:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Tomb Raider. Lara Croft. Most recognisable character from the PS1 console. Two feature films starring Angelina Jolie. Massive pop culture icon. Game series that's nearly two decades old. Millions upon millions of games sold.

Female protagonist.

Or of course Samus. Then again, people don't seem to give a shit that Samus is a woman, mostly because her games lock her in that genderless Power Suit for the entire duration of them. That's another problem I have with writing women in games: there is NO indicator that they're different from men. Every time someone tries to write a female character as actually FEMININE, people throw a goddamned hissy fit that basically equates to "ew, icky girl things!". Dear Buddha, people, get the fuck over your cooties. The West is especially guilty of this as you could swap out 90% of the female characters they write with a dude and there'd be NO appreciable difference. That's another reason I think Epic is trying to bullshit their way with why they don't have female protagonists: they have NO fucking clue how to write women properly. It's kind of odd how Japan is the one who is far more progressive and varied with their female characters then the West is.

Japan has always wrote like 3 different kinds of women characters for me:

The Supervillain's Apprentice/Amazonian
The Whiny Depressing One (Also can be the Shy one)
The Kookie one (Or generic one)

At least Americans have a bit more variety IMO.

The Independent Badass (Think Vasquez from Aliens)
The one who seems to stand up for those around her (Leela from Futurama)
The one who is independent but haunted by something (Ellie from Dead Space)

It's a cultural thing. Japan seems to see women as this sort of extreme highs or lows in terms of their emotions while Americans tend to stick tar into those emotions as soon as it hits our shores. Neither side can seem to get it "right" or when they do get it right, they are yelled at for it.

This is from my perspective, call me out if I am wrong but then again, take a look at where I am right.

Vicious Circle and all that shit.

I wouldn't mind a female protagonist in that game. But to be fair sure marcus is the PLAYER ONE character but the games still equally about the rest of the party. Including sam and anya. Nobody plays gears for the story anyway, i hope...

This article explains the problem pretty well.

Basically, games with female protagonists have historically sold much poorer than their spear counterpart, with the exception of a handful of exceptions (Tomb Raider, Metroid, and Portal - the first of which the protagonist is basically a sex symbol, and the latter two their gender is barely even apparent). Because of that, games with female protagonists have historically received smaller marketing budgets from publishers (not developers!), who basically think that the marketing money would be wasted on a game that's not going to sell well anyway.

Because publishers strangle the marketing budgets, the games sell poorly. Because the games sell poorly, publishers can justify strangling the marketing budgets. Bit of a vicious cycle. It's a genuine problem, but it's an institutional one, and it's largely due to overly cautious publishers unwilling to risk a large investment on an "untested" demographic.

Now, that said, I can't seem to grasp the outrage caused by this specific instance. I read the linked article and Perna isn't saying anything sexist or even particularly controversial. He's saying that they wouldn't get the publisher backing necessary to make a Gears game with a female protagonist. If Epic said "We want a game with a lady protagonist," Microsoft will turn around and say "Our numbers say that will reduce sales by X, so we cut your marketing budget in half to compensate." Epic Games doesn't get a say in the matter.

I mean, that's a perfectly reasonable response to the question he was asked. They included ladies in GoW3 - they're obviously not opposed to the idea of female action heroes. But at the end of the day, the publishers control the purse strings, and they're much more conservative and resistant to change than the developers.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Sexual Harassment Panda:

I know it can be done, but that's one of a very select few examples, isn't it? The fact that you can point to a series(that seems to be a bit of an anomaly) doesn't negate actual market research that people in the biz do. I am guessing a little that they do relevent research, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't(very very surprised).

He only really claimed that focusing on a female protagonist in the Gears franchise would likely be detrimental to profit. I think he's very probably right. It's not at all an outlandish claim.

Samus. Metroid. A franchise which predates Doom by several years, and thus was arguably the first game to cement the idea of a power-armoured space marine (or bounty hunter, in this case) kicking alien ass. Where Samus went, the entire industry followed. And while Samus was never as overt in her femininity as Lara Croft, the series as a whole still touched on distinctly feminine themes of motherhood. All while managing to sell a shitload of units in the US, and co-creating the Metroidvania genre of games. Seriously, Metroid, Super Metroid and Metroid Prime are all regularly hailed as some of the most successful, influential games of all time.

When you've got Metroid, Tomb Raider and Portal all achieving spectacular success, then you have to wonder whether this 'female hero' thing is as big a stumbling block as developers make it out to be. It just takes effort, that's all, same as any other kind of game. Again, those are all series where the main characters have achieved pop culture success. Not just success in that they sold a few million units. People who aren't even into games recognise the Metroid, Tomb Raider and Portal series. If those games can manage it, there's no reason why others couldn't as well. And it just makes the guy at Epic look like a bit of an ass.

Aiddon:
SNIP

Again, with Metroid, while they kept Samus as a fairly blank slate character, the Metroid series did progressively include more and more overt themes of motherhood, a distinctly feminine theme. Remember the baby Metroid? Mother Brain? Simple as the games were back in the SNES days, there was a lot of subtext going on behind the pixels.

Casual Shinji:
It's cuz females can't look sexy in big, hulking power armour... Think, man!

image

None of this means that it wouldn't be bad for Gears of War. 3 games deep the series is pretty well established, and established as a bit of a male-power-fantasy(not saying that's bad) fulfilling experience, from what I can tell.

A female protagonist might well hurt sales. I'm not convinced he's wrong.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Aiddon:
SNIP

Again, with Metroid, while they kept Samus as a fairly blank slate character, the Metroid series did progressively include more and more overt themes of motherhood, a distinctly feminine theme. Remember the baby Metroid? Mother Brain? Simple as the games were back in the SNES days, there was a lot of subtext going on behind the pixels.

And again, THEY DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WITH SAMUS HERSELF. She was completely robotic and genderless in the series except for Fusion and Other M. There was NOTHING differentiating her with just another voiceless, personality-deficient space marine. You can try and explain the themes of Super Metroid all you want, but when the protagonist doesn't have a lick of expression to her then it all falls flat. And of course when Nintendo DOES try to explore her as a character and flesh her out people throw a goddamned hissy fit.

Well, he's sort of right when t comes to justifying a gemale protagonist for Gears. That's not to say he's right.

The game is just brotastic and I can see a lot of bros getting pissed because a 'chick' is now the protagonist. Hell, a game like AC was able to get away with it because the character was more flexible, more realistic and not so brotastic. But there ya go, a rhetorical response to what we all knew GoW could ever be.

TheKasp:
Well, without Marcus we would've never had MARCUS' DAD who is the best character written in everything that could be classified as writing.

MARCUS' DAD!

Thank you for showing me the light.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 15 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked