Sandwiched between two of Sony’s crowd-pleasers was the unveiling of Guerrilla Games’ brand new IP, Horizon: Zero Dawn, which received an overly positive reaction from the gaming community.
However, prior to the debut, Sony’s Head of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida confessed to feeling nervous due to the fact that, yes, this represented a deviation from the trusted Killzone formula, but also because Guerrilla’s latest starred a female protagonist in tribal outcast, Aloy.
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According to Polygon, Yoshida admitted that the creative team held focus tests internally to try to gauge the potential reception of Zero Dawn when the lights dimmed on the E3 stage.
“She’s a female lead character,” he said. “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,” he said. “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.”
Thankfully, it’s an archaic mentality that didn’t prevail, and Horizon: Zero Dawn retained its female lead. More recently, we’ve seen many studios incorporate playable female characters, from the rebooted Tomb Raider to Ninja Theory’s upcoming Hellblade. But Yoshida-san went on to discuss the state of the industry behind the pixels, and his desire to see more female game developers in order to broaden the creative spectrum.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Horizon: Zero Dawn will launch exclusively for PlayStation 4 some time in 2016.