During Sony’s E3 press conference, Killzone developer Guerrilla Games announced a new PlayStation 4 exclusive title, Horizon Zero Dawn.
The trailer for the intriguing open-world game revealed a land where machine-like dinosaurs and monsters roam freely, and players use a specialized bow and arrows to take them down.
While the new title looks exciting and fun, Sony’s head of world wide studios, Shuhei Yoshida, was nervous about launching the title, and shared his apprehension about announcing Horizon while talking with Polygon after Sony’s press conference:
Personally, The Last Guardian was very emotionally important, a great reveal, but for me the announcement of Horizon from Guerrilla Games is actually the biggest project for me for this E3 to announce because it’s a big project and a new IP. I was nervous to see the reaction from people.
Surprisingly, Yoshida’s hesitation had nothing to do with the new idea or unique gameplay, but rather the fact that Horizon‘s main character is a woman.
She’s a female lead character. That has always been the vision by the team, but we had a discussion. Is it risky to do a female character?
The concern came after the game was in development. We started to show it to many more people internally and they had questions about it. So we worked with our marketing groups to do this focus testing.
We wanted to see how people would react to some of the things: open world RPG, the set up of machine versus primitive weapons and the female protagonist. All of those things.
Fortunately, focus testing proved gamers were excited for the opportunity to play as a strong, independent female lead. That sentiment was validated after Sony announced Horizon at E3, as gamers shared their approval for the new game.
Such approval isn’t very surprising, considering the success of female characters in recent games like Tomb Raider and The Last of Us. Plus, it seems Horizon won’t be alone in its efforts to promote a strong female lead in the coming months, considering other games with female leads shown at E3, including Rise of the Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Dishonored 2, and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.
It seems the days of female characters potentially hurting sales are over, as more developers bring powerful, nuanced female characters to market. During his interview, Yoshida mentioned his desire for additional studios to continue this practice, and hopes that in doing so the industry will appeal to a broader, more inclusive audience.
As an industry, I think we should continue to make efforts to have more females in studios on the development side and to get different perspectives. Games have become more and more popular in terms of who plays, especially in terms of mobile. We have a chance to further increase the reach, from a PlayStation standpoint, to a bigger more diverse audience. In order for us to do that, the games we create have to appeal to a broader audience.
It’ll be interesting to see how Horizon and these other games affect the gaming landscape, and how PlayStation gamers react when Horizon launches in 2016.
What do you think about Horizon‘s female character lead? Are Yoshida’s worries justified? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Horizon Zero Dawn is set to release in 2016 for PlayStation 4.