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While women make up nearly half of all gamers, a continued study by Buzz Bingo has revealed that only 12% of next-generation video games exclusively feature a female protagonist, with 2020 being the worst year yet for female representation.

As part of this continued study, Buzz Bingo analysed every game released on PlayStation and Xbox since 2016 to see how female representation in the gaming industry has developed, as well as how this representation is unfolding in 2021.

1. PlayStation Games Year-on-Year

  • Our research showed us that 2020 was the lowest year in terms of the number of female-led games released on PlayStation consoles, with only 14 games (8.6%) released that year featuring a female protagonist.
  • 2021 is already looking more promising in terms of the number of games set to be released featuring a female lead, with 23 games (18.4%) with a female protagonist having been announced so far.
Year Female Male Mixed Ambiguous/NA/TBC Total
2016 27 120 97 62 306
2017 49 85 115 61 310
2018 27 90 98 42 257
2019 22 87 91 24 224
2020 14 53 67 29 163
2021 23 50 30 22 125

2. Xbox Games Year-on-Year

  • In three out of the six years we analysed, only 9 of the games that were released for Xbox consoles featured a female lead.
  • So far, 2021 already ranks second for the highest number of female protagonist led games for Xbox, with 14 games (12.8%) featuring a female lead having been announced or released.
Year Female Male Multiple Options Ambiguous/NA/TBC Total
2016 16 83 54 34 187
2017 9 49 65 21 144
2018 10 46 56 29 141
2019 9 49 74 16 148
2020 9 27 49 22 107
2021 14 43 30 22 109

3. The New Generation: Xbox Series X/S and PS5

  • Research from Buzz Bingo has revealed that only 51 games (12%) out of the 414 confirmed PS5 and Xbox Series X/S exclusively feature a female protagonist compared to 139 (34%) games with a male-only lead.
  • 33% of all games had both male and female protagonists or allowed the user to customise the gender.
Gender of Lead(s) Xbox Series X/S PlayStation 5 Xbox % PS5 % Total %
Female 21 30 11% 13% 12%
Male 58 81 31% 35% 34%
Multiple Options 68 68 37% 30% 33%
Ambiguous/NA/TBC 38 50 21% 22% 21%

Methodology

  • We analysed every game released on PlayStation and Xbox since 2016, and then manually checked each game to find out whether the playable character was male, female, ambiguous or had mixed options.
  • We then broke this down to find out the best and worst years for female representation in video games.
  • To determine gender, we researched wiki pages for the individual games and searched for the corresponding pronouns when necessary.

 

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