Just 1 in 3 top selling video games of the last 16 years allow users to play as a female character

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  • The team at www.Cardschat.com have done extensive research into female representation in video games over the last 16 years, with a particular focus on the main characters that gamers can play as
  • FIFA, Grand Theft Auto, Mario Kart, Just Dance and The Sims are among the games that featured in the analysis
  • Data reveals that just over a third of the top selling video games released in the past 16 years allow users to play as a female character (35.26%)
  • The game developer that has released the highest amount of video games allowing the main character to be female was found to be Nintendo

The team at Cardschat analysed a total of 160 video games – the top 10 grossing games per year from 2005 to 2021 – finding that only 35.26% of the top selling console games allow the gamer to play as a female character.

It was found that just a tenth (10%) of the top selling games released in 2005 allow gamers to play as a female character, compared to 90% of the top selling games in 2020 – every top grossing game, apart from Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V, allow female main playable characters.

The findings for each year were revealed to be:

  • 2007 – 40% (of top grossing video games allowed playable female characters)
  • 2008 – 40%
  • 2009 – 50%
  • 2010 – 30%
  • 2011 – 30%
  • 2012 – 20%
  • 2013 – 20%
  • 2014 – 10%
  • 2015 – 40%
  • 2016 – 20%
  • 2017 – 40%
  • 2018 – 20%
  • 2019 – 60%
  • 2020 – 90%

The data also delved into the most female-friendly game development companies, finding that Nintendo is the most female-friendly developer when it comes to allowing female playable characters in their games. 22.8% of the top grossing games with female characters have been developed by Nintendo over the last 16 years, with games such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the Mario Kart series. In second place was Ubisoft (15.79%), with games such as the Just Dance series and Assassins Creed: Valhalla. Activision and EA came in joint third place, having developed 14.03% of the top grossing games with playable female characters.

The team also determined the best and worst times to release a video game, based upon analysing the months that top grossing games year-on-year have been released; November was found to be the best time of the year to launch a new game, with 29.3% of top grossing games being launched in this month, whilst July was the only month of the year which has not seen a top grossing game launched.

Debi O’Neil, spokesperson for Cardschat, commented on the findings:”It’s very interesting to see how the rise of the female character in gaming has changed over the last 16 years. The fact that 2020 was found to have the most female-centred games is unsurprising, especially given the increase in the number of female gamers and consequently the growth in the market. Going forwards, I would expect most, if not all games to include female lead characters for this reason.

“November is the optimum time of the year to buy Christmas gifts, so this could be the main reason behind games being launched so late in the year.”

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