Sony was ‘nervous’ about Horizon Zero Dawn’s female lead

Unveiling Guerrilla’s new IP Horizon Zero Dawn upon the world at E3 was a tense moment for Sony Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida.

Not because he wasn’t confident in the game, of course. Many have dubbed it the game of the show, but in an industry where attitudes towards females continue to at time linger behind the modern world, the exec was aware that some quarters might take issue with the gender of the main character.

"I was nervous to see the reaction from people," he told Polygon. "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. The focus testing reaction was positive and that made us feel good, but you know it’s a limited number of people that we were able to test."

However, Yoshida wasn’t to know that Horizon would be in company at this year’s E3 show. Dishonored 2 also has a female (co-)lead, as of course do Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Fallout 4 will also give players the option of playing as a female.

343’s Bonnie Ross presented Halo 5: Guardians for Microsoft, who also had Mojang’s Lydia Winters and Beyond Eyes creator Sherida Halatoe on stage. Plus Angela Bassett was the big star of the Rainbow Six: Siege demo.

I feel great that there is more diversity in the kind of worlds and kind of characters that we are making as an industry," Yoshida added. "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."

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