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Naughty Dog Wouldn't Remove Ellie From The Last Of Us Cover

The role of women in video games has been a very hot topic as of late.

The latest development is bound to generate further discussion- During a recent VG24/7 interview with Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann and voice actress Ashley Johnson (she plays Ellie in the game), we learned that initially, the powers that be didn't want Ellie on the front cover of the box. And why? It was argued that doing so might lead to lower sales. Said Johnson:

"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."

Druckmann agreed, saying that he doesn't believe putting a female on a cover would result in lesser sales. He also added that Naughty Dog was asked to remove Ellie from the front of the game box for The Last Of Us...a request the company immediately denied. Said Druckmann:

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

I'm not entirely sure having men on a video game cover automatically translates to higher sales. That sounds a little outdated to me; that's like implying the same thing of movie box art. Granted, this industry still features a much higher percentage of hardcore male participants but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll somehow subconsciously (or consciously) avoid games with pictures of a female character on the front. Seems silly.

Tags: the last of us, the last of us box art, naughty dog, women in games

12/12/2012 11:15:46 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (36 posts)

VampDeLeon
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 11:42:12 AM
Reply

I'm guessing based on her placement of the cover, it would make Ellie be the prominent main playable character and some people just don't want to play as her.

It's a silly theory, given that no matter who you place on a cover there won't be as many sales just based on how it looks and or who's on it.

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Lord carlos
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 11:53:06 AM

The game would be much harder if you'd played as ellie,i love that idea!!!
Imagine that,play as ellie on your 2nd playthrough using stones and a flick knife......if this actually happens i'm gonna die laughing from joy.
A real insane crazy laugh that would make the joker proud!

Last edited by Lord carlos on 12/12/2012 11:54:31 AM

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VampDeLeon
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 12:04:06 PM

Definitely. Ellie already has the spunk and power of trash talking, her being able to back up those statements would give even Joel a run for his money. :)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 3:14:58 PM

I'd be as surprised as a plastic goat in Hell if you didn't control Ellie at various times in the game.

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Crabba
Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 5:32:53 AM

"I'd be as surprised as a plastic goat in Hell"

LOL!

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Mogreen
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 11:42:45 AM
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Wow I think it would bring more interest to the title having Ellie on the cover. Sony just needs to market it correctly.

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Lord carlos
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 11:46:04 AM
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The powers that be must of forgot about a large busted raider of tombs in the mid 90s.

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bebestorm
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 11:52:59 AM
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Thats Odd.... I wonder if it has more to do with her age.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 1:08:21 PM

It really is. I am trying to understand why removing Ellie from the cover would help in sales.

I just don't believe that gamers really care about those types of things.

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oONewcloudOo
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 12:04:53 PM
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I can't see it hurting sells, every time the game is demoed Ellie gets the biggest cheer. I glad ND stuck to there guns

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Huey
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 12:05:22 PM
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Are we now back to the squeeky wheel getting the grease? I for one dont care what the box or cover art is. Is that really a big determining factor in game sales?

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Ludicrous_Liam
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 12:25:43 PM

I think it is. Despite the saying 'Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover', we all do it. And if a cover piques your interest, practically half of the sale is done, just by the front cover.

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Killa Tequilla
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 12:11:44 PM
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Hardcore Gamers already know what they want or don't. So do the casuals: Call of Duty.

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Dealnightfire
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 1:02:50 PM
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I hate to say it but some guys won't play a game if the lead is a female. A very close friend of mine wouldn't play Mirror's Edge,Tomb Raider, Heavenly Sword or Bayonetta because the lead is a girl and that's lame.
He has played games by the same studios and loved them but if the lead is a female, no way he won't go there.
Its a sexist thing as he believes a female can't kick ass.

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 3:50:16 PM

Dealnightfire,

I have to agree with you.

There is a very vocal minority of guys(not me) that don't want to play any female lead games, and some that don't want any females in their game at all.

Case in point(& even though it's not a game itself), there's an upcoming set of movie-shorts that's going to be geared towards all the different stereotypes of wowen in games, called "Troupes vs Women In Video Games".

And on several different gaming sites(not here,thank goodness), I had followed the story of Anita Sarkeesian, who
started a kickstarter fund to do it, where she got a sh!tstorm of negative guys there, and threats of death too, plus over at additional forums almost everywhere else that wanted to stop her work cold.

Luckily, smarter people prevailed & not only did they they donate the $6 grand she wanted, they even topped it by another $152,000.

As for myself, I say "YOU GO GIRL"

BTW, you can probably Google the ensuing sh!tstorm.

Plus her Kickstarter fund(although it's now over), is still here...

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games

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Dealnightfire
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 7:53:02 PM

Yeah Anita Sarkeesian is a whole nother story. I'm on the fence about her but what people did to her and called her and how they treated her is just evil.

Anita brought about a good idea and a very interesting topic and she was(still is) being blasted for it and people are trying to ruin her life and the thing about is they see nothing wrong with what they are doing. Not even a little bit.

These people that do this still buy games and market people know that. Market people aren't out to reform the world. They know some guys won't pick up a game that involves a girl or woman and they don't want to lose that market.

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Axe99
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 10:35:25 PM

That's just messed up in the head - those guys need to get out and about and live a little!

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Soultaker
Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 12:23:01 AM

Biker there is also another reason for all the negativity which is when someone gives her actual criticism she deletes it as if it were never there and when someone gives her negativity she leaves it there and focuses on it. There are videos that actually prove what she is doing isn't true along with she still hasn't provided 1 video she's promised of producing but instead going and giving presentations at other places.

Do I agree with her personally no but i'm not going to go to the extreme like death threats like they did.

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slugga_status
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 1:16:39 PM
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I fail to understand this theory. I really don't think gamers care if a female is on the cover or not. As long as the gameplay appeals to the masses people will buy

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Beamboom
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 1:24:18 PM
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If anything, a girl on the cover makes me *more* interested, not less.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 3:10:19 PM

The cover art I seen (similar to the picture above) is awesome. It really shows the atmosphere of the game and two of the main characters. Remove that and I feel like you've removed a part of what makes the game and atmosphere what they are.

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DarthNemesis
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 2:22:51 PM
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Wow this is dumber than Bernie saying that JRPGS should not come to the West on the Saturn because they would not sell. We all know what happened after that. Look, I am sick of these companies thinking that the know what consumers want and what will sell or won't sell. The truth is that anything well sell if it is marketing effectively (the Wii) and consumers will follow what the ads say. If they want this game to be successful it will be. It has nothing to do with marketing a female on the cover when the female is not even playable as far as we know. I hope that you do play as Ellie for some parts of the game, because as a man I am tired of the same type of macho characters that have dominated the last generation. I like to play as more vulnerable characters (which made Nathan Drake a great character) rather they be females, kids or an under powered character. Who knew that people would enjoy playing a Diddy Kong or a short fat plumber? Exactly.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 2:56:08 PM
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Stupid. I think people who handle marketing take us for fools. It's hard to argue with them though because customers are often drooling ninnies (See blockbuster movie fans) and I just don't think they "get" that gamers tend to be informed customers. Hence, the inclusion of a young female in a non-sexualized way is more likely to make us think "Hey this looks different" and pick up the box and look it over.

That just makes more sense to me if you want the box art to affect sales at all, they won't get you more if you have a typical grizzled hero but highlighting why it's DIFFERENT among the Playstation-exclusive-playing crowd is how you play to your base.

Box art is not astrology, we shouldn't pay attention "just in case"


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 12/12/2012 2:56:38 PM

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 3:19:02 PM
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The cover art I seen (similar to the picture above) is awesome. It really shows the atmosphere of the game and two of the main characters. Remove that and I feel like you've removed a part of what makes the game and atmosphere what they are.

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tes37
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 3:54:22 PM
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Naughty Dog is one of my favorite developers and the cover art they choose isn't the reason I view them favorably. I like the character Ellie right where she's at. I'm glad ND didn't let anyone tell them how to do their job.

I'm buying the game because I believe it will be an entertaining experience, not because of the cover art.

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DIsmael85
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 5:03:21 PM
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Lara Croft graces her covers and she sells tons. I don't understand why anyone would ask them to remove Ellie. Oh wait, yeah stupid folks.

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MyWorstNightmar
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 9:18:21 PM

That is not quite comparable.

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Knightzane
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 5:03:29 PM
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I can see why they would want to remove it. Think about, people look for ANY reason to give a game a bad mark. You put an underage girl in a game and your un serious risk of people taking that and making joel a pedophile. Sure that might be overdoing it but still.

Anyone remember the mass effect 1 fiasco? Some guy said that because of the sex scenes that you can literally walk around and rape women. I know thats not the case here but whose going to stop some douchbag journalist trying to get some publicity for himself? I hope it doesn't happen.

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Raze22
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 7:54:14 PM
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2 things I like to say:

If they have real statistics backing their claims then I give them a pass.

To capitalize on what @Knightzane was saying, now you know how media/journalist like to respond to certain things. Regardless as to what you do they will find the story they need ;). Especially when it comes to politics and sexism. Sometimes they pull the trigger where it doesn't need to be.

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MyWorstNightmar
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 9:38:01 PM
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Ok, I’m thinking it would be helpful if you showed everyone the box art, or a link to the box art that is floating around the internet. I googled it. It is similar to what you have above. Not sure if it is the final product or not. First off, I can’t wait for this game, and I love Naughty Dog, and good for them for sticking to their guns.

However, I can absolutely see the other side of this also. The box art that I saw features Ellie being the more noticeable character on the box at the forefront of the picture, and she is obviously a young looking girl, and she has a rifle on her shoulder with a scope. I can see the point that it might not be the wisest choice if you are concerned how the game will be perceived. Games get bought as gifts for kids, or get bought by the parents for kids. Kid tells mom he wants "The Last of Us". This is the same mom that buys her kid Call of Duty games. She looks at the game and sees her like that, and says no way! As much as I know this is not a game for kids because of the adult theme, I realize that under age kids will make up a large number of the sales for this game. And those in charge of marketing this game realize that too. Just my two cents.


Last edited by MyWorstNightmar on 12/12/2012 9:40:07 PM

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FxTales
Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 1:41:49 AM
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Heavy Rain had origami on the cover and that still sold well. I mean geez, really? I think the majority of people who will be buying this game know the premise behind it and have seen gameplay.

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___________
Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 6:27:14 AM
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really?
who would make a ridiculous request like that?
i really thought we had moved past these old stereotypical BS!
as long as the art portrays the game accurately, than who gives a flying f*ck who or what is on the cover!

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RobN
Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 12:30:01 PM
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Marketing wonks don't make this stuff up - they study and research and see what people actually DO (not what they say they do, which is different). Assuming this isn't some intern spouting off the top of his head, but someone in the marketing realm that knows what he's talking about, I wouldn't dismiss the assertion out of hand. If they say a girl on the front will hurt sales, it probably will.

There's a reason why cereal is on a specific aisle and specific shelf location in the grocery store. There's a reason why the logo and pictures look as they do. These guys study human behavior, and how we make decisions, and work like crazy to make sure products have the widest possible appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. Sure, 90% of the people who might buy the game will buy it no matter who is on the cover, but if it affects sales by 0.5%, that can be a lot of money.

So after defending the marketing types, let me say that Naughty Dog made the right decision. From everything I've seen, Ellie is pretty central to the game, and it would seem to be dishonest if you market it like "Hey, you're a bad-ass Duke NukeEm running around killing everything in sight," and then when you play it you find out it's not really like that. Put that relationship on the cover and let people see what they're getting. *I* think it's likely to make it a better game overall, and clearly Naughty Dog does, too.

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DjStiv3
Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 2:43:08 PM
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uhh if you got a game like that catherine game then yea its just a picture of a girl on front then yea it may not sell... of course its not my type of game anyway but the cover art alone does seem a little off enough not to buy... same goes for resistence 3 im still a little ticked off as to the picture they chose to slap on the front....it would have done much better with battle of the main guy and a chimera

for this game they should have had them more off in the distance and the title should be smaller towards the lower left... in my opinion i would enjoy it more like that

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startazz
Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 3:17:13 PM
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Mmm i wonder what they will put on the cover of Tomb Raider when it comes out? if i think a game is going to be good i'll buy it no matter who's on the cover,i normally do a little research before i buy a game anyways,but i guess not all gamers do but i can't see why it would sell more or less if they put a woman on the cover or not,what do i know though as i'm just a gamer,lol.

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Ather
Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 4:40:08 PM
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I wonder how much better Tomb Raider would sell if they keep Lara off the front. How mnay times have we heard guys say, Ill, yuck. Look at the girl on the box. No way I'm buying a Tomb Raider game.

Yeah, clearly putting Lara on the front box art has hurt TR sales immeasurably. Dunderheads.

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