April 6, 2012 by Tim

This game Prime World (sort of a cross-platform MOBA/action/strategy thing) is apparently offering gender-discounts. I’ve seen a handful of sensationalist articles this week reporting that “Prime World offers discounted females heroes to women in order to reel in the ladies!”, but actually the gender-discount goes both ways. Guys who purchase male heroes pay less as well.

You could argue that, since guys predominantly play video games anyway, they don’t need the extra enticement of discounted heroes and so this promotion is still mostly targeting the female demographic. A lot of women play video games, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with encouraging more to try it out.

The idea of gender-discounted heroes is harmless… it’s more or less a matter of whatever gender you are, roughly half of the heroes will be priced less. No problem there, I’d be thrilled if male League of Legends champions cost half as much. I’d still buy the female heroes, I’d just be spending less IP for the male ones.

However, apparently there’s also an in-game buff that encourages mixed-gender play. Meaning now you’re resting actual, gameplay-altering stats on your player’s choice of male or female heroes. That idea I’m less than thrilled about, and I think does more harm than good. Sure, it’s encouraging mixed-gender groups, but should you be handicapping those groups that can’t find a woman to play with them?

Furthermore, why force people to play characters that match their real-life gender? That almost sounds like a feature dreamed up by someone who had one too many “flirted with a girl in an MMO but then found out it was a dude” experiences and got fed up with it.

Perhaps the idea might be a little more palatable if the gender buff was account-bound, but didn’t force a girl to play a female character in order to get it. It should probably be enough to just interest the women in playing, without forcing them to use a female toon while doing so.

Of course, given how easy it is to change your Facebook account gender, or create an entirely new Facebook account, the whole thing is sort of moot anyway. You’re not actually guaranteeing that the girl you’re playing with is a girl.

But I guess my biggest question, and concern, how will you get a discount on this thing if Facebook doesn’t allow you to set your gender to “Stubby Androgynous Dragon?”

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