Even with all the other PlayStation 4 titles shown at the PlayStation E3 2015 press conference, Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida says the reveal of Horizon Zero Dawn from Guerrilla Games “is actually the biggest project for me for this E3 to announce because it’s a big project and a new IP.”
Speaking with Polygon, Yoshida adds that he was nervous to see the people’s reaction for Horizon due to those above reasons, as well as the lead character being female.
While the development team always planned on it, the “concern came after the game was in development” and there were internal discussions about whether having a female protagonist was a risky move. This led to Sony working with their marketing groups to focus test the game. “We wanted to see how people would react to some of the things: open world RPG, the set up of machine versus primitive weapons, and the female protagonist,” he says. “All of those things.”
The focus testing reaction turned out to be positive, but the small sample size of people still left them nervous about the big reveal.
Looking outside of Sony titles, Shuhei highlighted Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst as just a couple other games with female leads. As Yoshida explained, he hopes this trend helps expand their audience:
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.
Horizon Zero Dawn is currently set for release in 2016 on PS4.
Horizon Zero Dawn Female Protagonist Concerned Sony, Led to Focus Testing