Here is the reasoning, that drive execs and marketers to pro-actively exclude women from their audiences and to pro-actively encourage a culture in which women do not feel welcome. This is why we can't have nice things... or can we?
This is an excellent piece, by someone inside the industry, outlining quite clearly how and why so many games all but refuse to acknowledge women gamers even exist.
And it really is tough sometimes, in games. Perfectly good, reasonable people just succumb to the prevailing wisdom, feeling helpless. I've written female characters in games with attitude and agency, then been required to tone it down for fear of offending male players.
In one (unreleased) game, I was told to change a cut scene because "the woman NPC can't try to save herself, the male PC must save her." And the number of times I've had to remove snarky comebacks from a female NPC ("the player won't be attracted to her"), I can't even count.
And these were not horrible, raging sexists. But they were following market wisdom, doing what they knew publishers would require of them.
(I should add that these are all AAA games I'm talking about. The indie/mobile space I've worked in is so, so much more progressive.)
(Also saddening: almost exactly the same reasoning applies to the comic market's obsession with superheroes.)
Anyway. Great article, well worth a read.
Game makers: "We have never really tried to market games to women. Let's not bother with them at all."
Women: Buy and play games anyway.
Marketing department: "Lets ostracise women and exclude them from gaming. That is sure to increase our revenue."
Male gamers: "Fucking fake geek girls won't jump on my dick when I aggressively quiz them about nerd trivia."
Female gamers: "Uh. Just so you know, this is a really hostile environment. How about letting a few ladies play the lead?"
MRA: "FEMINAZI TRYNA RUIN OUR FUN!" ::Bushpig noises::
One Game Developer: Makes a game that does not sexualise, infantilise, or ostracise women and puts a girl in the lead role.
Women: SWARM TO THAT GAME LIKE NOTHING ELSE EVER.
Game makers/Marketing department: "How the hell did THIS become a breakout bestseller? There's no boobs/sex/violence!"
Male Gamers: "Girl play game? That's unpossible! Must not be 'real' game."
And the cycle continues…