Publishers Passed on Remember Me Because of Female Lead: “It Has to be a Male Character, Simple as That”
In case you don’t remember Remember Me, it is a third person action game from developer DONTNOD and publisher Capcom, scheduled to release on June 4th in North America and June 7th in Europe. Placing you in the shoes of female lead, Nilin, a memory hunter who lost her memories, your adventure sees you trying to remember your past.
That part about Nilin being a female, as told by Jean-Max Morris, Creative Director at DONTNOD, was “something that just felt right from the beginning. It’s one of those things that we never looked at from a pure, cold marketing perspective because that would have endangered the consistency of the whole game.”
Unfortunately, as Jean-Max continued to tell Penny Arcade, publishers looked at it in the marketing perspective, and with it too late in development to change Nilin to a man, “We had some that said, ‘Well, we don’t want to publish it because that’s not going to succeed. You can’t have a female character in games. It has to be a male character, simple as that.'”
If, in fact, they had changed Nilin’s gender, there was a scene where they had her kissing a guy and they “had people tell us, ‘You can’t make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that’s going to feel awkward.’” Morris’ response to them was, “‘If you think like that, there’s no way the medium’s going to mature.’ There’s a level of immersion that you need to be at, but it’s not like your sexual orientation is being questioned by playing a game. I don’t know, that’s extremely weird to me.”
He then finished by saying that they are “doing a cyberpunk game, and there are cyberpunk games out there that are about physical augmentation and transhumanism, and those are very male worlds in a way.” But with Remember Me, “the world we were building was much more about emotion, intimacy, identity, and the way technology would intersect those. It just felt like the other side of the coin, the yin and the yang, and it just made sense to us that it would be a female character.”
Interestingly, Sony were the original publisher for the game (under a different title), but they wanted a different game to what DONTNOD aimed to develop. However, the discussions with the publishers who didn’t want a female lead likely happened after Sony had dropped the title and the developer had to shop around.
What do you think about DONTNOD’s decision to keep Nilin female? Will it impact your willingness to buy the game? Let us know in the comments below.