Speaking to The Escapist, Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann said the company had to go out of their way to get female input during The Last of Us focus-testing.
“Another aspect that influences how a game is promoted is focus-testing. Players are rounded up and are asked to view materials and answer some quantitative and qualitative questions about it,” Druckman told The Escapist. “My big surprise during this process is that the research group wasn’t planning on focus-testing female gamers—it’s something we had to specifically request. I hope this is a relic of the past that will soon go away.”
The matter shines a light on some of the issues that cropped up for The Last of Us’ marketing—namely how Naughty Dog was told to relegate Ellie—one of the game’s primary protagonists, if not the character who the title arguably revolves around—to the back of the box to increase marketability. Naughty Dog refused.
I mean, I hate to ask, but are there really any gamers who will flat-out refuse to purchase a mainstream, AAA title at the sight of a female character on the front cover? Doesn’t inclusiveness increase marketability by virtue of attracting more females who might otherwise dismiss the title as another testosterone-laden slaughterfest (i.e., videogame)?