Square Enix: “Only Macho Protagonists Work in the West”

Interviews with the developers of Square Enix’s new Nier franchise reveal a bizarre development saga in which arguments over whether western audiences could stomach a typical girly JRPG lead eventually lead to the company making two versions of the game.

Square Enix’s new “Nier” franchise launched with two games, Gestalt (PS3/360) and Replicant (PS3), each with radically differnet character designs for the hero; however only Gestalt was released in the west, as “Nier” – comparisons of the two attracted some attention.

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ClownBelt3131d ago

" Yoko: At first we just doing the youthful protagonist version (which became “Replicant”), but Square Enix started taking talking about international markets during development.

Yoko: In fact, an argument erupted at Square Enix’s Los Angeles studio, over whether a thin looking male character [hereafter translated as “girly”] was possible for the game. For the North American consumers, it was decided to provide a macho main."

Just as I thought, the MACHO, UGLY, DEFORMED LOOKING character is not the actual character SE decided, and Replicant is the real one.

-Alpha3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

It's true though. Mario, Link, Sackboy, all total failures because the West clearly did not like them and were turned off by their puniness to the point that they refused to buy the game.


Oh, and a tip for all my fellow N4G Nuns: Porn on the website, cover your innocent eyes with the nearest bible!

I often find that when you are concerned with marketing your game to the point that you need to change your main character you lack confidence in your product. Hopefully the game is great regardless and we will see if this move pays off in anyway for SE's sake.

Macho protagonists have ruined the industry. Killzone 2's Rico is annoying as all hell and lacks personality. But at least he's tough as nails and totally macho! Dude from Resident Evil 5 sucked the meaning of "horror survival" out of the title. But at least his arms are big!

The macho protagonist carries with him the typical annoying, childish jock attitude followed by catch phrases such as "booyah!" or "F this and F that". Their demeanor is supposed to make up for their lack of character despite character being more important than image.

Realistically, how many more copies does SE expect to sell now?

eggbert3131d ago

the difference is that Mario and Link are from a different Era. Things were way different back then. People actually cared about the gameplay instead of graphics for one....

Nowadays all the little boys care about is macho-men in video games. It helps if they also swear a lot because swearing is cool. Also, there needs to be a lot of blood, AND CHAINSAWS YEAH THATS AWESOME.

And I have the same exact feelings about resident evil 5. All the other resident evil's made you feel like you could be killed at any moment whereas Resident Evil 5 was more of a action game. Not too mention the game was a hell of a lot easier than previous entries.

Myze3131d ago

The problem is that they apparently don't realize there is a massive difference between a "macho character" and an "effeminate emo that you can't tell is a boy or girl till they talk." There is such a thing as a middle of the road character.

-Alpha3131d ago

Yeah I'd assume social construction relativity would play a role, but really how much is SE thinking they are going to gain by making the main guy more manly?

I don't find anything that wrong with macho characters. It just depends on how you use him. Building a character around marketing concerns me as I feel the primary function should be to create a character around the game.

ShinMaster3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

What's up with this trend of choices SE has been making this gen to try and "appeal the western crowd"?!
The essence of their games is slowly being lost.

booni33131d ago

True. Absolutely true. look at how the american market treated the brilliant offering from platinum games: The critically acclaimed Bayonetta. It suffered in sales by comparison to other action games but features combat options deeper than any thing prior to it. That sexy female protagonist was a big risk for p* and they ultimately paid for it, in a commercial sense of the expression.

In the states at least.

hay3131d ago

Wow, and to think that those people with so narrow field of view are making games, while talented people with great ideas are struggling to get in the industry.

That's just... Lame.

UltraNova3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

I've said it and I will say it again. SE days as bar raising, formidable developers are over. Their mind is strictly made up into pleasing the US consumer hence this fiasco by their marketing department.

Cant they stop for a minute and ask themselves, what made us famous and successful to begin with? Yes is was EMO's like Cloud sir!

TotalPS3Fanboy3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

People don't want a macho man on steriod:
Someone like Rico from Killzone 2.
Someone like Marcus from Gears.

Peole don't want an emo feminine man:
Someone like Hope from FF13.
Someone like Edge Maverick from Star Ocean 4.

People want a normal manly man:
Someone like Cloud from FF7.
Someone like Squall and Seifer from FF8.
Someone like Samunosuke from Onimusha.
Someone like Ash Riot from Vagrant Story.
Someone like Dante from Devil May Cry.

Wada wants to fit into the Western market and so he desperately tries to fit in. But the problem is, Wada doesn't even understand the Western market.

It's like that white guy from school who wants to fit into the "cool" click, so he try to wear gansta looking clothes and try to talk like black peoples.

It ain't cool. It's just ridiculous. People just laugh at him for trying so hard. He should just be himself. He would be coolor if he just be his own confident self.

shadow27973131d ago

In defense of macho men, Snake is awesome AND normal. He also came from Japan, to boot.

Final Fantasy has never struggled because of a lack of macho men. It's a Japanese thing, people understand that. Anime was also a big phenomenon in the states and manly men are few and far between there, too.

I think people care more about interesting and engaging characters than their supposed level of masculinity. Though (judging by appearances, I haven't played XIII), characters like Snow are definitely welcome.

But no, 'roided up buffoons like Marcus or Rico definitely don't belong in Final Fantasy.

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Noctis Aftermath3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

How hard can it be to make a character that isn't juiced up on roids but at the same time not completely missing the Y chromosome.

There is more then 2 choices you stupid f***s, it can't be that hard to figure that out.

Leathersoup3131d ago

Indeed. I think what the western audience wants is a little bit of realism and a bit of variety.

darthawesome903131d ago

Not that hard to figure out square. We want more Highschool/College on up characters like Cloud, Vincent, Aerith, Noctis, Fang, Fluerett (the girl from VersusXIII), Balthier.

STOP with the tween characters like Vaan, Penello, Hope, and Vanille. We Westerners are sick of children crying about daddy issues, prancing around like a fairy princess, or 14 yr olds crying about not understanding love. I mean they are SAVING THE WORLD toughen up!

If your going to use younger character make them like Yuna, Rikku, or Gau. While they were sometimes annoying they actually had a pair (I know Yuna and Rikku don't but you get the idea).

Dragun6193131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

You know what I think? Screw Yoichi Wada's plans in trying to appeal to the western market. They were way better off making games towards the Japanese audience like back then when they were SquareSoft, Seriously

Infinite Discovery? Xbox360 Exclusive? Hell Yeah
Last Remnant? Xbox360 and PC only? Hell Yeah
Star Ocean IV: Last Hope? Time Xbox360 Exclusive? Hell Yeah
Port over FFXIII to Xbox360? Hell Yeah
Front Mission Evolved? Tactical RPG? Nah, Third Person Shooter? Hell Yeah
Nier? Young version? Wtf?!? Macho Version? Hell Yeah
Next, Final Fantasy Versus XIII? Multi?
Lets ask Cliffy B

Heisenberg3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

We would've never heard this kind of BS coming out of SquareSoft. This is what's wrong with SE, they're trying to fit into a cookie cutter mold that they think will sell rather than focusing on telling great stories. Just because certain games that have sold very well in the west have macho protagonists, doesn't mean that's all we want. There are so many games that have sold well here that prove otherwise.

EDIT: And I agree that there's a big gap between macho beefcake and flamboyant sissy. Too far either way can be annoying, there's such a thing as a happy medium.

gano3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

dude u get a bub jus for the avatar.
best shyt since the sopranos.

Heisenberg3131d ago

It's true though, Breaking Bad is one of, if not THE best show currently on TV.

BasilMarceaux3131d ago

And only feminine trannies with spikey and strange-colored hair work in the east apparently

ultramoot3131d ago

Y'know, I generally dislike stereotyping, but I have to agree with you to an extent. While I'm tired of musclebound steroid-freaks as heroes in a game, I'm also sick of protagonists who look like Boy George fans with weird hairdos. Why can't there be a middle-ground somewhere? Like someone who looks normal aka Max Payne 1 or some such.

Alex_Mexico3131d ago

Totally agree with you. I'm jus as much tired of seeing Marcus Fenixes in western games as I am of watching Neir Replicant's main character type.

Also, there is a middle ground. He's called Nathan Drake and he's the man! Play Uncharted 2 now if you havent yet.

Jeff-Ryan3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

yup sounds like Cloud to me.


Nathan Drake looks like a duchebag anyway. Boring and bland.

Heisenberg3131d ago

That's the definition of judging a book by its cover, well played... Although if you had have played long enough to hear Drake speak word one, you'd have realized it was the personality brought out by one of the best voice acting performances in videogame history that made him a likeable and exciting character, not his haircut and wardrobe.

shadow27973131d ago

Nathan Drake looks like a douchebag? Seriously? He looks normal. And Drake is anything but boring or bland. You have horrible tastes.

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badz1493131d ago

no wonder their reputation is slipping fast! all they need to be is what they were and everything will be good! trying to appeal more to the westerners thing is tarnishing their image! - not only by Japanese, but also the westerners that used to love them! Yoichi Wada is stupid! nuff said!

N4BmpS3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

That's not true [what Yosuke Saito] said, a character doesn't have to be "macho" to enable a foreign game to work in the west. To me this sounds like a cliche(of sorts) generalization of the Western audience(no I'm not getting offended), sure the American audience(let's face it that's who he referring to) does like a a lot action sequences and explosions, but the characters aren't always "macho".

Let's take a look at one of my favorite characters Dante (from DMC) to the Western audience he wouldn't exactly qualify as "macho" awesome sure but not macho, oh and look at the Final Fantasy series none of those characters are "macho" if they were supposed to be....yeah, apparently Japan doesn't have a clear sense of whar macho is.

Another character that isn't really macho would be Nathan Drake, he climbs a lot of mountains, jumps trains and fights supernatural weirdos but he's not macho he has charm though. Square Enix should take into consideration the possibility that they might be out of touch with the Western Market. However I won't ignore the fact that alot of "Macho" titles sell the highest in the West, Halo, Gears of War, Modern Warfare and others prove that American gamers like "macho" type characters but not all of us in the West prefer these "macho" games that Yosuke claims we all like. Give me a relatable, humorous character with a great story and plenty emotion and I will be buying that game.

I just love his perception of the Western Market. *Sigh* (Sarcasm)

Alex_Mexico3131d ago

Its not that we absolutely positively need a big burly grunting MACHO character for it to work. Look at Nathan Drake or Gordon Freeman which, for me, do NOT fit the bill of MACHO.

One thing is "it has got to be macho" and the other is "this is a girl thats actually a guy" type of situation that we have low tolerance for and I'll admit Im one of these that think that. I always hated Symphony of the Night's Richter and Alucard's incredibly girly designs and I was happy to see how Lords of Shadow's Gabriel Belmont actually looks like a guy.

It doesnt have to be a big bald space marine. It just needs to look like a man. We dont like to guess genders, damn it.

TotalPS3Fanboy3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

People don't want an emo feminie, so Wada instantly moves to the opposite extreme. An insecure macho man on steriod.

What happen to the middle ground: an everyday manly guy?

ally123453131d ago

The old man is more believable as the girl's father because he looks, well, old enough to father a child. But he's hideous to look at. Not even "hollywood ugly", just "ugly ugly".

But the young man is better to look

Why couldn't Square Enix have gone with someone who is in-between these extremes? Someone like Solid Snake, who is both manly and rugged, but not 'roided up and hideous to look at.

Square only seem to be able to make two types of male characters: Effeminate pretty boys (Cloud, Squall, Vaan, Hope, etc) and fugly battle-scarred old men (Steiner, Auron, Heidegger, etc). Oh, and weird things (Quina, Red XIII, etc)

TotalPS3Fanboy3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

Wada: "Feminine guys don't work. And after seeing Neir failed, ugly macho man on steroid don't work. However... Quina and Red XIII as the main protagonist that Western man can easily relate to just might work..."

FOXDIE3131d ago

thank god the game sucked, so this argument about characters doesn't matter anyways lol :D

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Otheros003131d ago

If the thin guy doesn't sell than every final fantasy you made so far shouldn't have sold that much at all. Wada is clearly blind. I hate overdose steroid space marines.

Millah3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

My God.....Square just continues to prove how badly they just don't "get" the West. They are so out of tune, and are trying SO hard to make "West" appealing games, that they have completely diminished the quality of their games.

They became successful worldwide by making the kinds of games they make best, and the Japanese culture was part of those games appeals. They didn't become so successful worldwide by TRYING to appeal to a worldwide audience, but by embracing their unique Japanese qualites and making the absolute best Japanese video games in the industry.

It just amazes me how badly the executives at Square are completely missing it. Its like they think Americans are a completely different species of animal and we aren't human.....Americans like great video games, just like Japanese like great video games. If you want to appeal to us then start making GREAT FUCKING VIDEO GAMES ONCE AGAIN.

Noctis Aftermath3131d ago

Well said, they are to concerned with 'westernizing' their games that they let the quality slip, square needs to stop looking at this as a business and go back to just making the best games that they can make, business has been getting in the way of their work for years now.

iceman28853131d ago all seriousness I don't care what the freaking character looks like in your game as long as he/she is interesting and has a point. I don't need the stereotypical muscle bound freak who grunts at everything and I also don't need to the emo guy with a spiky comb over who wines about his feelings all the time.

I just want a character with an interesting backstory that makes me want to play the game.

Also, Millah, sick avatar.

Kalowest3131d ago

Calm down, its not Master Chiefs fault, and yes Replicant has a cooler lead.

zatrox3131d ago

I must disagree, Replicant lead is a fag. It even reminds me of Raiden, ugh the horror.
At least the father is pretty good in personality, despite being fugly.
PS: Come on, Cavia stated the father was the original lead, but they made Replicant for weaboos and fangirls.

theunleashed643131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

really? REALLY? *facepalm*

Silverwolf3131d ago (Edited 3131d ago )

Not true! You could place any of those sexy anime babes in a GOOD GAME and I'll be happy to play it. Believe me I'm not alone on this.... In the event any SE reps might read this. Please refer to the following babes; Bayonetta, the lovely Lara Croft (sexy accent adds to the package) the girls from DOA, Chun Li.....etc. You get the drift!

BTW, NA developers know this. that's why you can choose a male or female characters and customize them to your liking. Just thought I would let you in on there secret.

Vicophine3131d ago

LOL No. I'd take Replicant over Gestalt any day.

Kalowest3131d ago

I agree,the US version is BS, Replicant lead character looks better.

Gothdom3131d ago

That's one of the many reasons I didn't buy Nier...