Breasts, Avatars, Crafting, and You

Sex sells.  It’s an expression as old as the concept of mass-marketing.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my year as Indie Gamer Chick, it’s that the expression is absolutely true.  I’m closing in on nearly a year of having this site, and I’m on the cusp on having 200,000 lifetime views for it.  This will be the 300th item I’ve posted on my site since launching on July 1, 2011.  As tough as this is to admit, I would have just over half of those 200,000 views if not for three game reviews: Don’t Die Dateless Dummy, Temple of Dogolrak, and Trailer Park King.  What do these three games have in common?  Well, they’re graphic adventures.  They all are kind of lame.  The writing isn’t particularly good.

Oh, and they are about tits.  Or space twats. And this really infuriates other developers of Xbox Live Indie Games.  There is an undercurrent of bitterness among developers who work hard on their fine-tuned platformers or RPGs who have to sit and watch their games get buried on the sales charts by games that offer little more than static-pictures of anime breasts.

Although I can’t blame those developers for being sore, I have to side with the smut peddlers on this one.  Yea, I haven’t exactly loved the quote-unquote “sexy games” I’ve reviewed here, but that’s on account of the games being no good.  If the gameplay was decent, I would have probably cracked a joke or two about the content, but I’m certainly not offended.  I know that there is a market from them.  I’ve had over 40,000 views come from search engines, the top-10 of which are as follows:

don’t die dateless dummy 2,707
temple of dogolrak 2,506
indie gamer chick 2,190
trailer park king 2,159
indiegamerchick 747
dont die dateless dummy 491
dead pixels game 373
trailer park king review 286
dlc quest 272
trailer park king game 248

As you can see, the top-10 is dominated by those three games.  If I ignored all other search results, the six hits off “boob games” account for over 20% of all search terms in my site’s history.  Oh, but it’s actually far more.  In fact, it’s around 25,000 of those searches, or over 60%.

Pictured: the game that has generated 10% of my total views.

But you didn’t need me to tell you this is what sells on Xbox Live Indie Games.  When I reviewed Apple Jack 2 yesterday, I pointed out that only 2 of the 90 best-selling games Xbox Live Indie Games were punishers.  Although I admit that what constitutes a punisher varies (Alan pointed out to me that Soul, which I have not played, would count as a punisher in his book due to extreme difficulty).  Still, I think my point is valid: punishers are an over-represented genre on Xbox Live Indie Games.  For all the bitching people do about Minecraft clones, avatar games, or raunchy stuff, you can’t say that the market hasn’t spoken, and spoken clearly.  Minecraft clones dominate the top of the charts, while games with the word “avatar” in the title represent 21 of the top 90.  Meanwhile, stuff featuring women on the cover (including pregnant women) account for 14 of the top 90 sellers.

The people have spoken, and they’ve done so with their wallets.  So while I sympathize with those developers who feel they can’t compete with Avatar Boobcraft, I would like to point out that you asked for this.  This is what all real artists go through.  You don’t think there’s some dejected filmmaker out there who poured his time, money, and life into his project only to watch in agony while something completely shallow and empty like Transformers 3 out-grossed it by over a billion dollars?  You don’t think talented singers started measuring themselves for the noose when Ashlee Simpson’s albums went triple-platinum?  Artistic success is rarely a measurement of talent or effort, which is why the average person my age can name all of the Spice Girls but none of the Three Tenors.

Yea, I don’t like it when these games totally half-ass it, but I don’t like it when ANY game half asses it.  Also, I find it obnoxious when games put women all over the cover, yet the game has little or nothing to do with sexuality.  This was the case with my latest review, Superdimension Iliad.  The actual game starred a blocky avatar and was about platforming and shooting your way through gaming history.  The game looked like this:

The cover looked like this:

In cases like this, I’ll side with the crybabies.  There should be some kind of “cover art that actually represents the game” rule for Xbox Live Indie Games.  If you allow developers to shameless pander to the pocket-pool enthusiasts even when their game is about as erotic as watching an old man sleep on a hammock, the results could get ugly.

Oh who am I kidding?  This would be on the top 90 in a week or two.

Thanks to Michael Wilson for the (completely fictional) box art above. 

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

14 Responses to Breasts, Avatars, Crafting, and You

  1. I bet there are already people Googling Spelling Tutor 360 as we speak.

  2. There is actually a rule about box art and screenshot’s grossly misrepresenting a game, the problem is no one actually calls anyone out for it because it’s such a debatable topic.

    • Jim Perry says:

      Actually there are some of us that will reject a game for something like that. The problem is that there are too few of us that care enough about the service to overcome the crap developers. That’s why crap is getting through on XBLIG. The number if people who will approve a game, usually without even playing it, in hopes of a kickback review are greater than those of us with morals who try to do the right thing and reject games that shouldn’t make it through the process.

  3. GaTechGrad says:

    Using box art sex to sell has been going on for years. I remember an unlicensed NES game called Pyrmaid, which had a seductive woman on the box cover, but the game was actually just a Tetris knock-off. The box art would be tame by today’s standards, but was a little racy for the early 90’s, especially since the original Nintendo was marketed towards kids.
    http://www.mobygames.com/game/nes/pyramid/cover-art/gameCoverId,17795/

  4. Tom Badguy says:

    Sex does sell. I have mixed feelings on it.

    • I wish the games were better. As I said earlier on Twitter, let’s not kid ourselves: Tomb Raider didn’t take off as a franchise because of stellar gameplay. Using sex to sell games is too often an excuse to be lazy in production.

  5. CJ says:

    Sex sells, and it sucks. But sexually depraved western young men 13 and over number in the billions. Can’t blame developers for tapping in to this market. All they need is a pic of cleavage, and they’re pretty satisfied. :p

  6. I think the boobs/mincraft-clone games strike a nerve with devs that view(ed) the channel as a place to release some clever/unique/creative games that wouldn’t traditionally get made by the larger studios. It’s the old Art vs. Product battle that even rages within the AAA studios.

    When it comes to XBLIG, perhaps the ‘higher standard’ stuff wasn’t good enough, or perhaps smut and clones will always rise to the top in a loosely QA’ed marketplace…I just hope the tipping of the scale here doesn’t prevent a second iteration of the channel.

    If I were MS, who are working on XBox720 right now, and all I saw were the current batch of ‘top tier’ indie games (boobies and minecrafties) that were produced, I wouldn’t flinch at killing off their indie scene next go-around.

    But I’m sure Steam would love to have more tit-centric games on their service. Anna and Sarah, the two Valve reps I met with last month, had several charts on the issue.

    • Jose says:

      Wait, Steam WANTS raunchy games? Why?

      • Sorry, I was joking there 🙂 These games are screwed in the grand scheme of things,

        It’s just a shame they had to sully what could have been a fun diversion in new creative & unique gaming endeavors that the big boys can’t afford to attempt.

  7. WHEN WILL SPELLING TUTOR 360 BE RELEASED??????

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