If you've ever been to a totally happenin' bar or club, then you probably already know about the male-to-female ratio problem and the tactics such establishments employ to maintain a comfortable balance. For those of you not in the know, such tactics tend to involve letting girls in for free or giving them discounts on beverages; groups of male patrons must pay full price or, in some cases, be denied entry.
Nival Interactive is taking this same idea and applying it to their next game, a MOBA by the name of Prime World. How? By awarding female players discounts on playable characters and gender-specific in-game bonuses. Nival's intent, according to creative producer Larisa Nuretdinova, is to cultivate a more diverse demographic for Prime World:
“The idea is to introduce the MOBA genre not only to hardcore players who already love it, but to their friends who might be more casual, and of course to their sisters and girlfriends who may not be as hardcore."
While spending talent points, players will be able to spec into gender-based talents that take effect in-game once you're playing with someone of the opposite gender playing a character of their gender. These bonuses aren't exactly restricted to ladies or guys, but they will require a mix of both sexes.
When starting Prime World, you'll have three female and three male heroes at your disposal, and more can be purchased (a la League of Legends). Interestingly, female players won't have to pay full price for these heroes.
In addition to attracting more "casual" (read: female) players, these methods are also Nival's way of encouraging gamers to socialize more. While these tactics could draw in more female players, Nival also has to carefully consider the nature of the game's gender-based talents and ensure they're truly welcoming female players to participate rather than throwing them to the wolves (in a manner of speaking). Nuvetdinova added:
“When boys gather around to play games just with each other, it’s not really social. When girls gather around just to chat, it’s not very social. The social starts when they hang out together and play games together.
“To do the very best, you’ll want a female player on your team."
And how the heck does Nival plan to determine player genders? Through the power of Facebook.
Prime World will connect to a player's Facebook account to determine their real gender, and bonuses will be conditional. Nevermind the fact that Facebook users can change their gender at any time. Even as a female gamer, I'm not exactly sold on Nival's ideas. Given the gaming community's often negative attitudes toward women, these tactics may just end up backfiring, though I'm certainly hoping for a positive outcome.