Naughty Dog isn't afraid of the stigma attached to having a female lead on a video game's box art.
Concerns over the potential loss of sales caused by putting a female on the cover haven't shaken developer Naughty Dog, who admit to refusing suggestions to change the box art for upcoming PlayStation 3 title, The Last of Us. The game's art currently prominently displays both protagonists Joel and Ellie on the front.
In an interview with VG247, Ellie's actress Ashely Johnson weighed in on the subject of women on box art. "I feel like they don’t put women on the covers because they’re afraid that it won’t sell," Johnson said. "It’s all gamers really know – and I don’t want to be sexist by any means – but I get the feeling, generally, that they think game’s won’t sell as well with a woman on the cover, compared to some badass dude on the front."
The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann then echoed Johnson's sentiment, and talked about the perceived misconception female-driven box art, particularly when said female is a teenager, attracts. "I believe there’s a misconception that if you put a girl or a woman on the cover, the game will sell less," Druckmann said. "I know I’ve been in discussions where we’ve been asked to push Ellie to the back and everyone at Naughty Dog just flat-out refused."
It's good to see developers stand up for the product and the characters involved, and not be worried about the possibilities a few consumers may not pick up their game. Whether or not this tactic will affect The Last of Us sales remains to be seen, but hopefully one day developers deciding to put women on the cover of their games will be a non-issue.