News Article

Naughty Dog Refused to Push Ellie to the Back of The Last of Us' Box Art

Posted by Sammy Barker

Fight for your right

Considering Ken Levine’s recent comments about BioShock Infinite’s box art, we were surprised by the cover for Naughty Dog’s upcoming The Last of Us. The image places teenage protagonist Ellie at the focal point of the product, while Joel observes from the background. It’s a bold move in an industry that appears to punish anything out of the ordinary – and, unsurprisingly, the studio faced some resistance from Sony marketing chiefs.

“I believe there’s a misconception that if you put a girl or a woman on the cover, the game will sell less,” creative director 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.”

Of course, the refreshing snippet here is not just that the studio stood its ground – but also that Sony backed down. We can imagine other publishers being less accepting of the idea to lead with a female character. But does the inclusion of women really impact a game's commercial viability? It seems like a ludicrous question on paper – but that appears to be the opinion of marketing big-wigs.

Are you less likely to purchase a title with a female protagonist? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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User Comments (12)



get2sammyb said:

I always choose the female character if I'm given the option in an RPG or something. It baffles me that people would not buy a game because it has a woman on the box.



SpaceKappa said:

@get2sammyb I'm the same way... I always prefer to play as females in games when presented with the choice. Nice to see Naughty Dog stood their ground on this.



Splat said:

@get2sammyb - I do the same thing.

I don't think you are going to be able to control her but keeping her safe is going to be a huge part of the story. I really don't see the big deal?

In fact seeing a female on the cover actually makes me notice more because you don't see it that much.

Besides they could have a blank cover with just the Naughty Dog logo in the corner and I would still buy this game.



Dxmkrew said:

I feel like playstation gamers in general are an entirely different breed. I may get some slack for saying this, but I'm going to say it anyway. Bioshock is a multiplatform game that has to take Xbox and FPS PC gamers into account. Overall I feel that, what you find on the playstation lately in terms of exclusives (Journey, Papo & Yo, The Unfinished Swan, Heavy Rain, the long awaited Last Guardian) and even going back to the PS2 with the Ico games & Kingdom Hearts are emotionally driven, unique stories. These games get the kind of support on Sony consoles that they probably would not get on the 360, because Sony takes the time and makes the effort to promote and even fund them. Naughty Dog's game SEEMS to fit that mold exactly. Even those playstation gamers unfamiliar with the development team (those two or three people, lol) seem likely to give this a chance, in my opinion. The console is geared towards a different audience and a different mindset.



Stuffgamer1 said:

Females on boxes lead to bad sales? Then tell did Tomb Raider ever get popular?

Really, though, I think it would be DISASTROUS for them to have kept Ellie off the cover. She is an EXTREMELY important part of the game, and it would do nobody any favors to misrepresent the product at retail. Props to Naughty Dog for earning enough clout to be able to stick to their guns like that.



Azikira said:

Then what about Lollypop Chainsaw or Catherine? That's kind of sexist of Sony...



Ginkgo said:

Personally I am more likely to buy a game with a female protagonist.



ShogunRok said:

I hardly ever play as a female character if I can help it - especially in RPGs where I just find it easier to stamp my own personality onto a male protagonist. That said, I'm glad Naughty Dog didn't fold on this, even if it seems like a stupid request. I'm sure few developers could have swayed Sony's marketing team so easily.



Jaz007 said:

@Azikira I don't think those covers are the best refrence points. I think a girl taking her clothes off might just be a sexist attraction point.

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