Naughty Dog demands female focus testers for The Last of Us, rejected marketing demands to take Ellie off front cover

During an interview with The Escapist, Naughty Dog Creative Director Neil Druckmann shed light on an issue that came up during the testing process of The Last of Us.

The research firm in charge of creating focus groups for The Last of Us, which remained nameless, overlooked the fairly obvious concept that female gamers exist. Druckmann explained that this did not sit well with Naughty Dog and that they had to explicitly tell the firm that this was an issue:

“Another aspect that influences how a game is promoted is focus-testing. Players are rounded up and are asked to view materials and answer some quantitative and qualitative questions about it. My big surprise during this process is that the research group wasn't planning on focus-testing female gamers – it’s something we had to specifically request. I hope this is a relic of the past that will soon go away.”

With a constantly growing market of female gamers, it would seem difficult to miss something as important as getting their input on a title as big as The Last of Us, especially a game where one of the central figures, Ellie, is female.

The Escapist also learned that this wasn’t the only instance of gender bias during development. The marketing firm working with Naughty Dog, which also remained nameless, decided that Ellie should be moved to the back of the game case to leave the front only for Joel, the game’s main protagonist. Naughty Dog refused the firm’s decision and kept Joel and Ellie together to share the front cover.

The Last of Us will hit stores on June 14 as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. For more information on The Last of Us, check out our game page.

What do you think of Naughty Dog’s response? Excited for The Last of Us? Let us know in the comments below! 

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  • Related game: The Last of Us

    Release date (US):
    June 14th, 2013
    Naughty Dog
    Action - Survival Horror
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