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Belinda Parmar Headshot

The PS4 Launch Neglected Female Gamers

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So Sony has struck the first blow in the battle to dominate the next-gen of gaming with last night's launch of the Playstation 4 that didn't actually launch the Playstation 4. As the industry raised its eyebrows at the lack of a price - or, indeed, a look at the console - I couldn't help but be struck by one other glaring omission.

What of the female gamer?

That oft-ignored, abused-over-the-airwaves demographic that - reports suggest - now makes up a whopping 40% of the gaming community? Surely Sony would take the initiative and offered them an olive branch? Surely the mouth-watering levels of unexploited revenue that women represent would mean they'd include them in their thinking as they took their next leap forward?

Sadly not.

In an event that lasted longer than Les Misérables and featured a cast just as big, not a single woman took to the stage to talk. Instead we were treated to an endless sausage fest of Sony execs droning on and games developers talking about how 'ambitious' the work they were doing was.

Way to make us feel included, guys! I can't wait to rush out and buy one of your big, expensive man-boxes!

And ambitious? Really? As far as the previewed titles were concerned this all seemed a case of same-old, same-old, only with slightly better graphics. A new Killzone, a new Infamous, a shooter from Bungie. I'm sure these new games will look great, but none of them filled me with intrigue any more than the cool-looking explosions in the Die Hard trailer make me want to spend two hours watching Bruce Willis grunt.

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It's not graphics or performance that have attracted new female gamers over the last ten years. It's imagination, innovation and inclusivity that will win the battle for the living room. Just look at the Nintendo Wii - it was able to dominate in markets that console gaming had never previously touched because it came with an accessible, imaginative control system that made it stand out from the crowd.

Thankfully there is some promise on that front in the PS4's new 'social' elements that were, all credit to Sony, made a key part of the launch. I like the idea of being able to easily share my gaming experiences with my friends. Currently, however, that's not enough.

The event struck me as Sony resting on their laurels and targeting the teenagers that have been the Playstation bread-and-butter since 1995. A massive opportunity to take advantage of the changing gaming landscape is slipping away.

There is still time for Sony to prove us wrong. It's early days. The full console launch is yet to happen, and there are bound to be more announcements in the coming months both in terms of features and launch titles.

For now though, I'm afraid that the Playstation 4 gets a 'must try harder' when it comes to female gamers.

So, Microsoft. What have you got for us?

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