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83 Percent Of  Mass Effect 2  Players Opted For Male Protagonist
83 Percent Of Mass Effect 2 Players Opted For Male Protagonist
November 24, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

November 24, 2010 | By Simon Parkin
More: Console/PC

BioWare has released a slew of statistics for its acclaimed space RPG Mass Effect 2, revealing that 83 percent of players assumed the role of a male Commander Shepard, despite widespread acclaim for Jennifer Hale's performance as a female version of the character.

The same percentage of players created their own bespoke face for Shepard, while the 'Soldier' class remains the most popular choice, with 63 percent of players opting for it.

The statistics, reported by game blog Destructoid, will be used by the developer to influence the development of the final entry to the Mass Effect trilogy.

14 percent of squad members died in the final section of the game, while 36 percent of players chose the 'Renegade' option in the end-game dilemma.

The studio also revealed that 'Archangel' was the most popular squad member selected for missions, while only 50 percent of players fully upgraded the ship's capabilities by the end of the game, useful data for both narrative and mechanical balancing in the next game.

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Alex Covic
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Sad to hear another example of the mainstream market majority, confirming the "min-effort" and "arrows-showing-me-the-exit" console type ignorant 'gamers'. The point and click adventure seems to have a secret comeback?

Who could blame Bioware for minimizing the dev costs by cutting off the flesh from their products, if they decide to do so in the future? You can only lure non-RPG gamers to a certain degree, to explore their game, using "Achievement Points".

But the RPG loving minority, who care about diversity, variety, and are grateful for rich content, might get another blow of (further) streamlined XBOX-ey FPS market experience. Again, sad, if true.

hugh wanger
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I don't think you can be that cynical about your fellow gamers, in fact thats insulting Alex.

I played male, as I am male, and I wanted the immersive experience of playing as me :)

The gender choice could well just reflect the demographic of the gamers who purchased the game.

They will probably leave both genders in the game, as they should. Nothing drastic to be done, nothing sensational to draw from these stats. It won't stop people like you Alex choosing to use the information in such a negative way which is unwarranted, unnecessary and inaccurate.

Omar Gonzalez
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I think you went a little overboard with so much assumptions there my friend. Games are entretainment, if you looking for some brainrobics.. there´s always chess, reading, logic problems.. you know stuff that actually put your brain to work.

I don´t believe in the assumption that time demanding "rich content-oldSchool" rpgs have more "dept".. they are alienating at best.

Chris OKeefe
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I doubt they'd remove the option to be female from the game. Especially with this character continuity thing they have going. But it's definitely not an incentive to produce more female-specific dialogue. I wouldn't be surprised if the number of male-specific dialogue steadily creeps upward while female-specific dialogue declines.

Of course, it also depends on overall sales. 14% of an already low number of sales is pittance, but if they're selling four million copies(wiki says they sold two million in the first week, so four million is probably low balling it), then even 14% translates to a lot of money. Even if it pales in comparison to the rest, it probably justifies the dev time put into female protagonists.

Even a five percent drop in sales when you're selling four-plus million copies is probably unacceptable, so.

Andre Gagne
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I think the final question from these statistics (or at least what bioware seems to be arguing for) is:

If you make Mass Effect 3 CoD in space will you actually make more money? Or are they planning on just reducing the amount of content in ME3 to lower the bottom line and hence make more profit?

Robert Marney
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It's the other numbers that jumped out at me.

63 percent of players used the default, shooter-friendly "Soldier" class. If the RPG market chooses all classes equally, this means fully 1/2 of Mass Effect players are part of the FPS market.

14 percent of squad members died, which means that players who finished the game generally took the time to do most of the loyalty missions instead of going straight for the main quest line.

By contrast, I wouldn't read too much into "Archangel's" popularity, as he is a fan favorite who's also very useful in gameplay and is one of the player's first possible replacements for the unpopular Jacob. Similarly, the unusually high percentage on the Renegade decision is a result of poor writing in that conversation; I suspect the percentage of Renegade players overall is much lower, probably on the order of Fable's 10%.

august clark
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"63 percent of players used the default, shooter-friendly "Soldier" class. If the RPG market chooses all classes equally, this means fully 1/2 of Mass Effect players are part of the FPS market."

This is a huge leap of logic, and almost certainly wrong.

The "all classes equally" assertion might be true if all classes were balanced to be equally effective within the context of the game. ME2 is very combat oriented, so the classes more suited to fighting are going to be the most effective. Additionally, the magic system was very anemic even compared to the first ME, with only a handful of abilities granted to magic user classes. NPC characters were often one of the more "magic" based subclasses, and since any of their abilities could be accessed at will during combat, a warrior character with the correct selection of companions gives the player the best combat abilities, the widest selection of weapons, and gives them access to the most important and powerful special abilities. So if the soldier can do everything, why pick a class that has fewer options?

This isn't a case of "shooter fans" dominating the game, it is a case of the audience finding the optimal strategy.

As for the lack of female play through. I went through with both a male and female (paragon male, renegade female) and usually do so in games that offer the option because I like to see the divergences. I would be interested to see if there is a correlation between the drop off in players using opposite gender characters and the prominence of romantic sub-plotswithin the game. I would postulate that while many males are comfortable with playing a female character, they are less so playing through romantic sub-plots with a female character.

James Patton
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Your point about roleplaying the romance sections is spot on for me, at least. I was originally going to play through as a male character simply because the idea of me (even in a game) seducing a man would feel rather strange. I'd probably be female on my second playthrough - if I had the time, of course.

Of course, now I've seen these statistics I may simply play as a woman just to avoid following the crowd.

Robert Green
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I think you're all forgetting one vital detail: When you start up a new game, it doesn't present you with a randomly generated character, the way many RPG's do, it starts you off with a male soldier. If you want to choose anything other than a male soldier, you need to change it, and what information do you have to base that choice on? The manual and the intro movie, that's what. It might well be that the choice of male soldier is reflective of the audience, but I think it's more likely to be a reflection of the defaults.

Christopher Wragg
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Unfortunately the caster classes were pretty heavily neutered compared to the first game, and soldiers do get the best weapons in the game. It would be nice to see soldiers get the second best shotguns and sniper rifles after vanguards and infiltrators.

The advertising must affect the male/soldier paradigm as well. During all the adverts it's male and usually soldier shep that we see. Combine this with it being the default option suring character creation and a primarily male audience, you have a high chance of getting a male shep.

As for Archangel, either he or Mordin are the first two characters you work towards, and he's one of two repeat characters from the first game (the first of two), and both of those first male characters have considerably more personality than Jacob. It doesn't surprise me that he's a favorite.

[User Banned]
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Chris Melby
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Good point Robert!

Stephen Chin
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"14 percent of squad members died, which means that players who finished the game generally took the time to do most of the loyalty missions instead of going straight for the main quest line."

True... but this is only part of the story. How many did this to 'complete' the game versus the need/want to save their crew members (emotional connection) versus people doing missions just for the sake of them (it's something to do). As well, which characters were recruited or not and which ones were used at the end? Having Zaeed in your party, for instance, almost guarantees that he will survive (also meaning you very unlikely to see the absolute worse ending if you have him) while keeping Mordin all the way through almost guarantees he won't.

Andre Gagne
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Robert, I was going to hope on here now after some thinking to say just that!

Seth Strong
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Give me time for a lady Shepard play through, I have a busy life. Geez. I haven't even finished my male protagonist soldier run through ME2 because I'm too busy scanning every single planet.

Also, I like Grunt the best. Everybody else gets rotated around.

Robert Anderson
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I have to admit that the first time I played through I did it with a male shepard as a soldier. But I am in the middle of a second play through as the Female plus a bunch of the DLC as a vanguard and I am loving it 100% more.

Her acting is awesome.

My favorite side kick has to be Jack.

I wish I had done the first play through as the Female.

I guess that 82% of the buyers were male as well. Inferred from the quote of making their own face.

Erik Astrom
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Yeah I agree. I tried playing as male on my second playthrough, but the female actor is just so much better, that I just couldn't stand it. It would be an awful shame if they removed her for the third installment, and I probably wouldn't even buy the game to be honest.

Dave Sodee
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I played both as the female...dunno what that says but I like redheads..

Jack Nilssen
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So many people missing out on some of the best voice acting in video games today, period.

Eric Geer
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I havent had the chance to delve into ME2.but I chose a female for ME1 and I thought it was quite an interesting dynamic- and when else do you see a female captain who gets to take advantage of her male and female counterparts....pretty awesome in my opinion.

[User Banned]
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Kayin McLeod
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I have a rule: when playing a 3rd person game of any genre that gives the option, I choose to look at the backside of a female for hours on end.

I chose a custom female Shepard for ME1, and I have to say, even with a custom avatar, and what I had at first assumed would be the non-standard main character voice, I was very surprised with how well it all flowed together in the cutscenes. Since it felt like my character, I grew attached to her more then I think I would with a default character, enough that when I saw her return in ME2 I let out a little cheer.

Tadhg Kelly
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While it's an unpopular opinion on this forum in particular, I think that the Bioware stats (yet again, it was the same for ME1) show that many of the features that are the stock in trade of some games are not actually that important in the real world.

And the while the counter-argument that some players do like the features must be acknowledged, the problem is that any game that is chock full of unwanted features is as much a negative as a positive in the eyes of the consumer.

You can't bullet-point or check-list your way to success. Every feature in a game brings both function, excitement but also design drag, and creates a situation where the core features of the game (If you know what they are) are compromised and executed less well than they could be.

Chris OKeefe
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Can you qualify this statement? "Any game that is chock full of unwanted features is as much a negative as a positive in the eyes of consumers"

I don't think that's necessarily accurate even taken in its broadest sense, but it also misrepresents the subject at hand: you are presenting the option of being female as being an 'unwanted feature.' It might be an unwanted feature for a majority of male gamers, but it is a desired feature among the vast majority of female gamers and a decent portion of male gamers(I genuinely prefer playing female characters whenever the option is given, and I know many males who are much the same).

The distinguishing difference between an 'unwanted feature' and a 'feature without mainstream support' is that there are a significant number of people out there who heavily weigh the possibility of playing a female character in whether or not they purchase a game. It may not be a black and white decision - absence of a female lead may not completely dissuade a purchase - but it is definitely a desired feature.

Also, following your line of thinking is simply perpetuating a long-standing self-fulfilling prophecy that girls don't play games and thus games should cater exclusively to male gamers. The number of female gamers is steadily on the rise, even if it is still a minority. But female gamers have expressed interest in different kinds of games than male gamers, typically genres that have traditionally catered to female interests: social games, primarily.

Girls want to play girls as much as guys want to play guys. And interest in games among females is broadening. Including female leads in games is just one step toward drawing in the grander female demographic; simply adding a female lead and saying 'look how few people played females!' is not really relevant. You can't expect the entirety of the female demographic to catch up to the male demographic overnight. And that also doesn't mean that demographic isn't growing.

So your argument holds water if you exclude the female demographic as an important sales demographic, which isn't a defensible position in my opinion.

Chris OKeefe
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Also I would say that 'playing a character that interests and engages the player' is an important core feature for almost RPG(at least that doesn't center around a 'silent self' featureless protagonist.

Tadhg Kelly
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On the qualification: It's called cruft. The more that any piece of software incorporates peripheral features that only minorities of users actually use, the more that it has to compromise with the rest of the software and figure out the consequences.

With roleplaying games like Mass Effect, for example, that means that there has to be a lot of work done on the framework to handle a myriad of variables. It also means that core features (such as the 3rd person combat) end up being not nearly as compelling experiences as games that don't bother with those periperhal features.

I would argue that it very much depends on what the users want. There is no argument that says Mass Effect has to be like Gears of War, that would be foolish. Instead, the argument should focus around what the users actually want. Clearly from the stats, a whopping 83% of the players don't care about gender, and a 65% don't care about classes. 50% couldn't even have been bothered to finish the game. Why? It's not *difficult* to play.

The problem is that cruft creates reasons not to play. It makes things complicated, off-putting, obscure. It conveys the message that this game has to be learned, comprehended and got before it can be fun. And after a while comes the feeling that a lot of these peripheral features actually serve no purpose in the game at all.

One of the most important parts of design is knowing what to take out in order to achieve elegance. Elegance helps to magnify the appeal of a game because it explains more quickly to punters what it is and why they might like it, whereas a myriad of features, many of which have no use other than just as side fun things to do, make that conversation way more complicated.

RPG fans in particular seem to see no problem with this because they understand what the game is trying to do rather than what it is actually doing. This means that a game like Mass Effect has a dedicated following built in, as does Final Fantasy and several other big RPGs. On the other hand, people from outside that sphere have absolutely no idea what these games are and what they do.

On the other hand, they get Grand Theft Auto (in which you play a role, rocking around the city) because the game is not so front-loaded with complications that act as barriers to the actual act of playing. So that's why GTA sells 10m copies and Mass Effect cannot.

Are characters important?

I would argue no, they are not. In a GameCamp unconference 6 months ago (or possibly more) on a discussion about narrative and games led by Kieron Gillen (in London), after much prognostication in the echo chamber from various parties talking about the significance of the storytelling experience, I interrupted with the most quotable thing that I think that I've ever said, which was:

"You have to get over this idea that the player is a hero".

The function of a game character is as an interface robot to the game universe. The universe is what generally matters, meaning all the stuff around Shephard, not Shephard itself. Shephard really doesn't matter a whole hell of a lot to proceedings, nor the player's interpretation of him. What matters is the universe of Mass Effect, the planets, the missions and the various interesting things to do in the world.

Many game developers (and not a few theorists on games) have lost sight of that and instead focus on the game character, confusing videogames for tabletop roleplaying games, and art for story.

So once again:

"It's time to get over this idea that a player is hero."

Cos he/she's just not.

Chris OKeefe
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You make a lot of statements that I'm not seeing any substantiating evidence for.

"It also means that core features (such as the 3rd person combat) end up being not nearly as compelling experiences as games that don't bother with those periperhal features."

You have absolutely no way of knowing this. It is not only possible but entirely likely that the game's 3rd person combat was developed entirely or largely independently, and the inclusion of a female dialogue tree had zero impact on it whatsoever. They had to pay a voice actress, but that is just one more voice actress on top of the existing ones. They needed to record more lines for character responses, but that is largely a file-size problem, not a development problem.

So for you to draw some direct causal relationship between thee inclusion of female characters as a 'feature' and the detriment of other 'features' implies that you have a very strict and unrealistic notion of what 'features' actually are. They are not one-to-one and the inclusion or exclusion of a feature may have little to no impact on development or it may have a huge impact. You can't just make some blanket statement about the difficulty of implementing a feature as though all features have the same impact.

"Clearly from the stats, a whopping 83% of the players don't care about gender, and ..... 50% couldn't even have been bothered to finish the game. Why? It's not *difficult* to play."

No, not clearly. From the stats given, 83% of *characters* made were male, this doesn't say anything about how many players were male-focused. The same male player might have made three or four characters and had them all be male. And the 50% finishing rate only tells you how many times a game has been started and finished, it tells you nothing about how many times any given individual has finished the game. Again, they may beat the game once and then start three more characters to play with classes and never end up finishing any of them.

"So that's why GTA sells 10m copies and Mass Effect cannot."

You frame the not insignificant success of Mass Effect as a failure, in order to support your argument, but Mass Effect 2 sold incredibly well. It doesn't make sense to say that ME2 somehow did something wrong because it didn't sell as well as GTA IV, when ME2 sold well beyond Bioware's expectations, and made the company truckloads of money. By what standard are you judging success here? Because it's not especially realistic.

"The function of a game character is as an interface robot to the game universe. "

While this is nominally true, it doesn't actually remain true if you look closely. It's easy to say this when you look at the stability of the market of games that feature male characters, played by predominantly male players.

However, the moment you look at games with female leads(no male option), there is a significant downward spike in sales. People do care about their character and how well they relate to that character, either as someone that is like them, or someone that they like. You can mitigate this effect, as you can mitigate any effect, but your emphasis on... whatever you emphasize in game development, is just one very narrow perspective that doesn't necessarily make sense in all games, across all genres, sold to all demographics.

Trying to pick apart demographics numbers this way will do that to you. Statistics are useful, but flat numbers tell you nothing, and you are inferring an awful lot from numbers without a lot of statistical meaning.

Tadhg Kelly
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If you choose not to see, I can't help you.

Tadhg Kelly
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By which I mean that anyone determined to hold onto their belief about what games should be generally will rationalise to the ends of the Earth.

For instance:

"83% means male preference". No. It means most users are selecting the default. 65% choosing soldier as a choice. No. It means most users are selecting the default.

Time to get real.

"the combat engine developed independently of the character choice"

No. The animation rig needs to support many sets of models and textures, which sacrifices efficiency.

Time to get real.

"the 50% finishing rate shows only how many times it was started"

No. It shows how many players completed, not sessions.

Real time to get.

"Mass Effect 2 sold well."

Yes it did. EA's publishing machine are no fools and know how to sell a game. It did not, however, break the charts or that kind of thing. Even at it's height it was behind New Super Mario Bros. The point here is that RPGs are very expensive to make, but they have accessibility problems. Arguably this means that the 2 or so mill that ME2 sold at full price really represents the maximum size market for such a game, which is respectable but not stellar. It has also fallen to £12 within 10 months, indicating a lack of long term appeal.

What that all means is that EA has done a great job on the publicity for ME2 (and all power to them) but the game is less than a runaway success. My argument is simply that that accessibility problem is the reason.

Which is part of getting real.

"Characters and leads"

Lara Croft.

As has been noted before by many scholars bettr than I, some of the most successful game franchises are built with tabula rasa characters (like Mario, or the Master Chief, or Doom, or Gta3, or Link, or the Street Fighter 2 warriors) indicating that who that person is is irrelevant. *Players Don't Care*

That's the reality. It's as plain as day.

The point, in sum, is that bad feature loads are just excuses for many petty justifications and pet theories of how games should be rather than what games are, and it actively hurts the execution of the software as a result, and kits if players just aren't bothering with the peripheral tat because it's not important to them.

So, justify based on the mythical 1% of users who might just this once care about a non-point like what gender their characters are. It doesn't actually matter, but don't let that stop you!

Tadhg Kelly
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Double post, apologies.

Chris OKeefe
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"By which I mean that anyone determined to hold onto their belief about what games should be generally will rationalise to the ends of the Earth."

The irony of this statement is that it seems to apply more to yourself than most people. You are trying to narrow the focus of games down to a popular subset of features, thereby reinforcing norms and stagnating the evolution and creative impact of games.

I am in favour of diversity, of trying new things, of applealing to smaller slices of the market instead of just dumping all resources on a particular demographic. Games are creative and inclusive, and all you've described to me is a very bland future for games, one that I think most people wouldn't want to play as much as you think they would.

Oh, and Lara Croft is an exception, not the rule. Producers(and to a lesser extent, development leads) actively discourage female leads because the trends show that female leads result in a loss in sales.

But most of your theories do seem to be based on anecdotes and exceptions to rules, so that doesn't surprise me.

You don't find the slightest bit of irony in the fact that every tabula rasa lead character you listed was male? Name one that is female. I can't think of any off the top of my head. The fact is that the industry just doesn't generally go in that direction, there isn't nearly enough research, just some hamfisted market data with dubious interpretation and dubious validity.

There is much to be learned about the role of characters and players in games, but your notion that they are unimportant is unfounded, and is propped up in large part by anecdotes, misinterpreted data taken wildly out of context, and all to support your philosophy that games need to be chopped apart until they appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Chris OKeefe
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People who like to use expressions like 'if you refuse to see it' and 'it's plain as day' are usually doing so because they haven't got an ounce of emperical evidence to support their positions.

I may as well admit that I come from a science background(psychology specifically), and no, I don't see it. The reason I don't see it is because it *sounds* very much like you are arguing from the point of a foregone conclusion. You've decided that something makes sense and have gone out of your way to pick out the details from the big picture that support that theory, while ignoring the fact that the big picture as a whole doesn't lend itself well to your theory at all.

The big picture is that games don't appear to be suffering at all. You referenced ME2 as though it were a flop, when it absolutely wasn't. As if it could have somehow sold better if it had not had a female option, which is a spurious statement and, you absolutely have to admit, an assumption that cannot be proven. If anything you base that assumption entirely on the theory that you are espousing. It's circular logic, using your own conclusion as a premise to prove itself.

Feature creep is a problem with most development projects, but to try to cast female characters within the scope of that just strikes me as absurd and unfounded. There's a reason it's an 'unpopular position,' and that's because it is a theory that stifles creativity, alienates half the population, and has nothing to back it up.

Christopher Wragg
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Just to clarify a point chaps, it's not 50% finished the game, it's 50% fully upgraded the ship....this includes non-story add ons like scan speed upgrade, fuel upgrade and pods upgrade.

Also both of you are wrong about his;

" "83% means male preference". No. It means most users are selecting the default. 65% choosing soldier as a choice. No. It means most users are selecting the default. "

It does not indicate that 83% chose default, sure a hidden percentage of that is probably default selection, but considering how the options are pretty plain to see and self explanatory most people would consider the other options. Additionally, the fact that the same percentage of people created their own face for shep, would indicate that people didn't just chose the default.

As for additional efficiency and for the game engine, fem-shep and male shep share animations, additionally animation could easily be stolen from NPCs, as for textures, they wear space suits, the textures are simply stretched across slightly different models. So I have severe doubts that the character selection affected the combat in this game.

As for cruft causing complication, sure, it can, but when talking character choices we're talking one of the RPGs primary selling points. 37% of players is not an insignificant number. While not all players chose classes other than soldier, a decent portion of people did. You might argue well those classes made up for over 70% of class options. But again, almost all the features and abilities are used by NPCs as well. So the cost of creating classes is somewhat minimised.

Justin Keverne
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I can't say I'm entirely surprised that 83% of players selected the male protagonist for a game where all the marketing portrayed a male protagonist.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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This is exactly what I was thinking.

Chris Melby
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Your point and Robert's about the soldier being default really fall inline. I really hope that something as obvious as this hasn't eluded Bioware.

Tim Haywood
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There was an option for a male character?.....I prefer looking a ladies bottoms...

Glenn Sturgeon
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lol thats why i changed characters 5 minutes into mass effect1, i just didn't want to put it that way. thanks.)

I havent played ME2 yet but i will fairly soon.

Andre Gagne
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There are so many questions about these statistics that I find what's released cheap and self fulfilling.

What I would like to see is the data for these players released in some form that I could play with them.

* 83% of players played male, but how many finished the game?

* * How much of the game did they finish?

* Of those 83% how many played soldier?

* What does the distribution of people who finished the game look like?

* Of the people who imported the game (franchise players) how many played male vs. female?

* Of those players who played a male character how many also played a female?

Telemetry is useful, but when not analyzed correctly will lead you to incorrect conclusions about your userbase.

Chris OKeefe
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Indeed, how many of those male playthroughs were incomplete replays as the same male players play male characters of different classes?

Not enough information is given to really draw any useful conclusions.

Andre Gagne
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I know, They should let me access the data or release a public api for it!

Jeanne Burch
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A previous article here at Gamasutra said that "roughly" 50% of all people who started the game finished it. Here's the link:

In terms of ME3, I'd be a lot more worried about that.

For myself, although I imported my female Shepard from the first game, I didn't finish ME2 because I couldn't get the hang of the new gameplay elements.

On another note, the Typography class at my university uses Mass Effect 2 as an example of poor typographic choices when it comes to UID accessibility. Maybe 50% of the people simply couldn't read the text!

Robert Green
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Jeanne, 50%, for a game as long as ME2, sounds fairly high to me. I have no idea what an industry average is, but that link also says the average completion time is over 30 hours, and if I could make a game that half of players would spend over 30 hours on, I'd consider that a great success.

R Miller
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Perhaps I should try ME2 again, to see if the game breaking bugs I ran into have been fixed.

But, also, I really wish I had had a way of explaining to it my choices in ME1. I spent hundreds of hours on ME1 and then lost my save files (apparently when I did a steam uninstall of ME1 -- I had registered my cd install with steam -- so I would have room to install ME2).

But, for now, I am in some statistical groups that I would not have been in, except for reasons where I see a lot of people assuming otherwise, here.

Michiel Hendriks
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Am I'm the only one who is bothered by the fact that BioWare was able to gather these stats? I didn't see a warning on the box that I would be monitored.

Andre Gagne
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More of your games are recording metrics than you know...

But everyone doing it that I know of adhere to strict, strict rules (anonymizing names and locations).

Bart Stewart
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From the Questions That Can Never Be Answered Department:

What would these percentages have been had BioWare enhanced the direct RPG elements of ME2, rather than eliminating many of them in favor of a dialogue-heavy FPS?

In other words, when even the developer demonstrates a lack of interest in roleplaying features (by removing them in the sequel), I suggest that it should be utterly unsurprising to anyone that most gamers would choose to go with [Soldier, Male].

The only question I have is how much further BioWare will take this process of trying to curbstomp all the remaining direct roleplaying features out of ME3.

Edit: Oh, and I'd very much like to see a breakdown of the sex/class choices for XBox and PC players....

Chris Melby
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I was wondering the same thing about PC verus XBox gamers. I know that ME2 was a direct result of the 360 crowd they surveyed. I know that when they conducted that survey, the PC version wasn't out yet and Gears of War was still fresh in every Xboxer's mind.

And on Gears of War, the influence it had on ME2 was why I almost didn't finish it, that and the points you mention of eliminating some of the RPG elements that were present in the first game.

The only reason I did finish ME2, was because a mod someone posted on Bioware's forum, which allowed me to go in and split the single-action key that Bioware lifted from Gears of War -- which I absolutely hate -- back into independent key assignments.

Wylie Garvin
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Some modern console games phone home with stats about your gameplay, if they have an Internet connection available. Sometimes it is quite detailed, e.g. how much time you spent in each section of each level, not counting time where the character was completely idle. Or how many times you died on each boss fight before succeeding at it. Theoretically, stats like these could be used to identify badly designed elements, badly balanced fights, things that probably frustrated the player, and that sort of thing, and "learn some lessons" to help make future titles better. I'm not sure if they actually get used for that (improving design / game mechanics), or if they are mostly just used for demographic research.

Kevin Patterson
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I played as a female character as I cannot get enough Jennifer Hale. Also I played as a Vanguard in both ME and ME2, so I guess that means that yet again i am not the norm.

No surprises that the "Soldier" would be the main class as it shows how boring everyone's taste is. Lets play the role of the typical space marine rather than something a bit unique or different. I would be the bulk of the "Soldier" gamers were younger than the ones playing the other ME2classes.

Justin Speer
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Did everyone miss this info the first time around? There's an actual article from months ago regarding player data on IGN, which includes quotes and additional information:

There's even a link in the Destructoid article (although they might have added that after the original post), and that's what should have been referenced here...

Andre Gagne
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I believe I asked the same questions last time around :P