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What’s the Secret Behind Top-Selling Games Headlined by Women?


Gaming has become a gigantic entertainment industry, primarily because it has become much more accessible and appealing to all. The former stigma associated with the pastime has all-but been erased among the player base, thanks to there being so many different gamers in the world. However, some gaming executives are archaic and believe that games with leading ladies don’t sell, despite us living in a particularly strong period of female game characters.

So, we’re jumping into the games proving this ill-conceived theory to be false, exploring the fundamental themes running through the titles which have made them sell so well.

In a land of robot creatures and secrets

One of the finest examples of a brand new, ambitious IP bursting onto the gaming scene with a woman as its protagonist is Horizon Zero Dawn. Given the scale of the game, the fact that it was only available on the PlayStation 4, the time put into building the world, and the range of gameplay and behaviour mechanics, a lot was riding on Horizon being a success. Yet, they stuck with having a female protagonist, Aloy.

Their big ‘risk’ paid off tremendously for the developers, Guerrilla Games, and the publishers, Sony Interactive Entertainment. With Aloy as the star, the mid-2017 release surged passed the 10 million units sold mark in 2019. At the time of its release, the game became the best-selling new IP from a first-party Sony studio, shifting 2.6 million in its first two weeks. Better still, the sequel is the headline act of the upcoming PlayStation 5.

Exploring myths of the world since 1996

She’s taken many shapes and forms over the years, becoming a much more realistic human in the recent trilogy of games, but Lara Croft is one of the most recognisable game characters of all time. The Tomb Raider franchise of 19 titles has sold over 75 million units. The most recent trilogy of Tomb Raider in 2013, Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2018 account for over 25 million of those copies sold.

Lara Croft is bigger than ever, selling millions on video gaming platforms and even crossing over to headline a popular series of slot games at the mobile casino, Mobile Wins, for example. Within its slots section, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Secret of the Sword, and Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs continue to appeal to gamers, standing alongside popular slot franchises like Gonzo’s Quest and Thunderstruck.

Certainly not the last of them

Becoming the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive at launch with 4 million units sold, The Last of Us Part II brought the partially-playable main character, Ellie, into the spotlight as the primary. She won’t be the last female protagonist to headline a top-selling game, though. Later this year, Marvel’s Avengers will smash its way onto the market.

The usual suspects will feature as playable characters in the game, such as Black Widow and Iron Man, but the narrative will be unveiled through playing as Ms Marvel, otherwise known as Kamala Khan. Furthermore, two of the most highly-anticipated upcoming Nintendo games are from famous female-led franchises, with gamers itching for news on Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4.

Across all of these games and franchises that put a woman in the starring role, one aspect is true throughout them all: they are all top-quality games that offer hours upon hours of entertainment. Gamers aren’t ‘put off’ by female leads; people just want to play exciting and fun games.

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