The creative director of The Last of Us has admitted that the studio has come under pressure to relegate the game’s female lead Ellie to the background of the game’s cover.
The final box art of the game, which can be seen below, has Ellie in the foreground with fellow lead character Joel in the background.
“I believe there’s a misconception that if you put a girl or a woman on the cover, the game will sell less,” Neil Druckmann told VG247. “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.”
Ashley Johnson, who plays Ellie, added: “I feel like they don’t put women on the covers because they’re afraid that it won’t sell. 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.”
Johnson also went on to credit Naughty Dog for treating female characterisation in a broader and fairer manner than many other developers.
“Typically they’re either over-sexualised, or they’re the damsel in distress, or simply there to be a love interest,” she added. “There may even be one female in a game who’s a badass, as opposed to, ‘Just another male character’. It does bother me, which is another thing that attracted me to this game, and Naughty Dog games in general.
“You had Uncharted with Elena, and I feel Naughty Dog creates very real characters, especially with The Last of Us. Everybody is real and all of the characters have flaws, which I feel you don’t see a lot in video games.”