Publishers said 'You can't have a female character,' says Remember Me dev

Dontnod Entertainment creative director says publishers claimed female-fronted game would have little sales potential.

Remember Me developer Dontnod Entertainment has revealed that while trying to secure funding for the action game, some publishers were wary to sign on because of its female lead character named Nilin.

"We had some that said, 'Well, we don't want to publish it because that's not going to succeed. You can't have a female character in games. It has to be a male character, simple as that,'" creative director Jean-Max Morris told The Penny Arcade Report.

"We wanted to be able to tease on Nilin's private life, and that means for instance, at one point, we wanted a scene where she was kissing a guy," Morris added. "We had people tell us, 'You can't make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that's going to feel awkward.'"

Morris said this kind of thinking is holding the medium back in terms of maturity.

"There's a level of immersion that you need to be at, but it's not like your sexual orientation is being questioned by playing a game," he said. "I don't know, that's extremely weird to me."

Earlier this month, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag game director Ashraf Ismail said a female Assassin's Creed protagonist "wouldn't be surprising," despite all previous core entries featuring male leads.

Before that, Epic Games art director Chris Perna said in February that female lead characters for the Gears of War series could negatively impact a game's sales potential. "If you look at what sells, it's tough to justify something like that," he said at the time.

Remember Me launches June 4 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC and is published by Capcom. For more, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and is a big UCONN athletics fan.

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Discussion

1153 comments
arc_salvo
arc_salvo

AC: Liberation for the PS Vita had a female character, don't see why the main series for consoles couldn't have one.

That said, I couldn't justify buying a Vita for just one game (I'm a fan of the AC series) so I have yet to play it.  If it were also on PS3 I probably would've.  Which reminds me, I still need to finish AC3 for the PS3.

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

Right, so basically "Boys think kissing boys is icky, so you can't do that." I am fairly certain a flower isn't going to grow out of the back of my neck that steals memories and causes me to kiss boys.  I don't see the issue here.

DigiRave
DigiRave

This is a bunch of marketing BS, do you honestly think they care about whether the character is male or female, white or mixed race? Video games often use female characters to sell.  Anyone who buys into this is an idiot. This is just marketing bs to try to create controversy to create more hype for the game.

JimmyJumpy
JimmyJumpy

In games where you can choose the sex of the character, I always go for a woman, just because women tend to get overlooked by devs who never grew out of their teenage angst.

I've yet to mould a male character in games like "TES: Oblivion", "Skyrim" or any of the "Mass Effect" games.  Bar the first ME, but I always seemed to end-up with someone looking like Vladimir Putin, so I gave up and continued with a Commandresse...

Martialway
Martialway

Very rare that  I  have played a game with a female character... Lara croft guardian of light was the only one I can think of since perfect dark on n64

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Who cares if the main character is a dude or a chick the only thing that matters at the end of the day is if the game mechanics work well for the plot of the game and well written scripts and believable characters.

Garudyne989
Garudyne989

Why don't publishers understand that nobody cares about what gender the main character is? As long as the story is written well and the main character can actually communicate well to player, then people are happy, simple as that. 

LJSEXAY
LJSEXAY

Odd.  I always thought the Tomb Raider series did well.

andruxandd
andruxandd

i will buy any game 3dperson or rpg or any style when female character is the first protagonists...

tushwacker
tushwacker

It completely depends on the type of game. If the game is a total testosterone-fest, I feel it suits the game better to keep the protagonists male (the occasional bro-tastic game is a good thing imo). If it's an RPG that is supposed to suck you into the role, I think customizable characters are the best choice -> let the player pick the type of person they want to control through the adventure (aka Mass Effect, Fallout, Skyrim, etc). If it's a suspense, horror (Resident Evil), humorous (Borderlands) or story-driven game, the lead character's gender doesn't matter as much.

For games that focus solely on the combat and looking cool, I want to control a character that looks the toughest/coolest -> if I play Gears of War, I want to be a big, tough dude. It cheapens the testosterone-fest feeling of a good blood and guts shooter if you're running around looking and sounding like a super model. I also feel the same way when it comes to more serious, action-based games, especially ones that focus a lot on hand-to-hand combat.

In short, I could see some games selling better by having male leads. However, I don't think every game falls into this category.

tartarsauceman
tartarsauceman

"Can't have a female character"

This is the stupidest thing I have ever read.  If you ask me, MORE games need female protagonists.  It gets boring being a guy every other game you play after a while.

June-GS
June-GS

What is this, the 50's? LOL. I've no idea what they're talkin about. I have absolutely no problem buyin a "female-fronted" game. If anything, it actually "intrigues" me a bit more.

mdinger
mdinger

I played FemShep in all 3 Mass Effect games, but that was mainly because imo Jennifer Hale is a much better voice actor than Mark Meer. But it really should make no difference generally - you are only controlling an avatar which can be anything you want in most RPGs - including elf, dwarf, orc etc... why not female? You do not need to undergo a physical sex change to play a female character. I think it just adds to the diversity.

Mr8ball
Mr8ball

honestly it hurts me that there are so many ignorant videogame consumers these days that publishers are getting away with far too much for too little. o great wise video game lord publishers please grant my wishes and step the f back.

shadow9669
shadow9669

Everyone must buy Remember ME so we can prove to them that games with female protagonist can and will sell good.

Necro_Fear89
Necro_Fear89

Then why do I, a male gamer, when given a chance to create a character in a game always create a female character? I'm a straight male, I am not bothered by the thought of playing as a female. In fact I appreciate strong female leads, it's 2013, yes there are things that both sexes are different at but it's silly to assume people would be bothered by it.

CMNatic
CMNatic

Wait...So, they're saying that female game characters affect sales? Please explain your logic *cough* Tomb Raider 3.5 million dollars 2013 *cough*

BattleStarX
BattleStarX

Hmm... Tomb Raider... Metroid... the original Perfect Dark...

elbauto
elbauto

I don't know if that is actually sarcasm because if it is not, someone is kind of retarded in here...

Mabrry
Mabrry

Female lead characters affect sales? Then whats up with Lara Croft and the 3.5 million dollars Tomb Raider 2013 made? Or Samus in the Metroid games? Bayonetta? I don't think lead female characters affect sales at all, as long as the game is good and appealing, then i'm all in. Also, the whole girl smooching a guy thing has no affect on me. Actually, I think that his remark was pretty stupid. It's a video game, and that shouldn't make someone question their sexuality. Besides, the roles are just switched, it makes no difference if it's a girl kissing a guy, or a guy kissing a girl, does it? Silly article. Anyways the game looks pretty good.

IronRapture
IronRapture

So guys are cool with cross dressing but not possible pseudo-homosexuality. Good to know. Also nothing is unmarketable, it's just you that can't find the market...

kreegan64
kreegan64

I hate this whole "It's not marketable" crap, it makes no sense and certainly can only promote the growth of these subconscious prejudices (that is assuming they're subconscious)

TC_Squared
TC_Squared

There was a time period during the PS1 generation, though somewhat brief, before the release of FFVII that there were more action/adventure games starring a female character than male. I specifically remember such because I was getting games at that time and acknowledged it. Aliens Trilogy, Tomb Raider, and D to name a few I can recall. Even Resident Evil had one of each, and most people played Jill's story because Chris' was so much harder.


bmart970
bmart970

And we did anyway. Aren't we cool ! :/

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Wait I am really confused by this. They say you can't have a female character because it won't sell.

The developer explained that the game was going to delve into her life and that would involve her kissing a guy....I'm still with it, don't have a clue why it even needs to be mentioned but I'm there.

Then some people said "You can't have a dude like the player, kissing another dude in game because that would feel awkward", quite possibly the most ludicrous and homophobic comment I've seen in an article in a long time.

All of which would be solved if they just left the fucking woman in the game!

If games with women in don't sell why did Tomb Raider reach the top of the charts? I felt closer to Lara Croft than I have ever felt to some steroid junky Gears of War character or COD thick as pig shit marine. I also felt unbelievably close to Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite. Probably because they were realistic, not some mountain of meat that looks like it had been sculptured with a bread knife in the space of a few days. They actually looked and sounded like something that had a brain. Not to mention looked like they could actually experience emotion.

Unlike in Battlefield 3 where it is like, go to checkpoint B marine! Kill hundred of men marine! Bring down that plane marine! All the while you just do as he says over and over without a single care for anything or anyone around you. Fuck those games, it is the reason I won't be buying another first person military shooter for a VERY long time.

If you want to fuck up the games industry you are on the right track.

SolidSnake35
SolidSnake35

When playing games, I can only suspend my belief so far. And to be frank, female lead characters cross the line. I'm not saying this is always the case. Cooking Mama is a prime example. It showed the gaming community that female characters are possible but also that they must know their role within the game itself. Would that game have worked with a male lead character? I'm not sure. In these times, with so many people supporting men in their feminine pursuits, it might work. But only if we can be mature about these things. Long gone are the simpler times of Sonic and Mario. Gaming is now serious business and we owe it to ourselves to think about these deep philosophical issues. I know I am.

MissMorphine
MissMorphine

well i am really excited about this game since i first saw the trailer long time ago. and it was because of the gameplay. looks really cool. i loved both batman games. and this game kinda feels like it and lil bit of AC'ish added to the mix. im not gonna lie the fact the main character is a girl its a big plus for me cuz i love playing as a female character whenever i get the chance in games (ME, Skyrim, etc). but i would be excited even if the main character was a guy.

themisffx
themisffx

@Garudyne989 Why don't you understand that publishers only give a shit about sales. Obviously they're saying this because it's true. There are lots of sexist gamers out there and making a game that you know some people are simply not going to play because the MC has tits is almost brave. 

SkytheWiz1
SkytheWiz1

@LJSEXAY That's what I immediately thought when I pulled up the article. Hell, if TR had been open world, it would've easily surpassed Far Cry 3 in every way, for me (I relate because TR was almost everything I wanted from FC3, the latter which I found to be disappointing).

spexwood
spexwood

@tartarsauceman I personally can think of so many games that have female protagonists that it makes these publishers seem like they come from the 1920's or something (I am even imagining them as being in black and white color while everyone else and their surroundings are in full color!!!!).  It's really sad to think that they are really this stupid!

June-GS
June-GS

@mdinger Exactly. Especially about Jennifer Hale. I love her.

C0c0tina
C0c0tina

@Mr8ball Well said. Think about how they make the industry look to non-gamers. And I'd like to say they are a minority but... I'm not so sure.

smasher19831983
smasher19831983

@shadow9669 the game isn't really that good, not because of the character (though to my opinion a male lead would have looked better in this type of games) but because of the way the game is made, the controls, the camera, and some plots aren't good at all.

 

CrouchingWeasel
CrouchingWeasel

@Mabrry 3.5 million COPIES in the first 3 weeks. In dollars that averages out to over $250 mil.

kreegan64
kreegan64

@TC_Squared Eidos also made another game with a female lead called "Urban Chaos" around the PS1 era. I remember playing and loving it when I was younger.

PutU2REM
PutU2REM

@Dannystaples14 A female protagonist is not an impossible sell, but it is a more difficult one. Studies have repeatedly shown that males in general are simply less interested in female protagonists in their media, from books to film and even to music. (Ever wonder why so many bands have male frontmen?)

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of males without those hangups, and I am one of them, but alas, sexism is strongly correlated with possession of a Y chromosome, and these unnamed publishers' concerns are warranted.

DigiRave
DigiRave

@SolidSnake35  games are not serious business, and everything is not a "deep philosophical issue." Please, let's stop being pretentious.

CASwim1111
CASwim1111

@SolidSnake35 Wait, sorry... what?!  Can't tell if non-obvious troll is trolling.  Cooking Mama... "know their role"... right.

Cristhian_Cobas
Cristhian_Cobas

@kreegan64 @TC_Squared don't forget dino crisis... and Parasite Eve... and Clock tower... and ghost in the shell... and if we add pc as well: Beyond good and evil, Blood Rayne, Dreamfall, Anachronox, Mirror's edge (awesome game BTW), Oni, Perfect Dark, Still life 2, Syberia, and so on.... so many games with strong female leads... anyways...

shockvaluecola
shockvaluecola

@PutU2REM @Dannystaples14 Has anyone considered that this is a self-perpetuating problem? That women don't sell because we believe women don't sell, and behave a certain way because of that belief?

It's perceived that women don't sell > decision-makers won't invest in women because "they don't sell" > there are less resources to make products centered on women good > buyers learn that woman-centric products will not be as good because of lack of production value > women don't sell

That seems like the most likely interpretation of the cause and effect here to me. And any other interpretation seems a lot less charitable as well, since I can't think of another that doesn't involve all gamers somehow being misogynist.

Seems to me the solution would be "start investing in women," and women will sell. Lara Croft pretty much proves that, doesn't she?

PutU2REM
PutU2REM

@IceVagabond   Women purchase significantly more novels than males and MMO players are likely not representative of male gamers as a whole, so even if you have more than anecdotal evidence to back your assertions (which I doubt), your analysis is flawed.

Wanna try again? Learn civility and basic statistics first, please.