MMORPG Sex Appeal – DOs and DON’Ts
Sex sells. That, at least, is what many MMORPG marketing departments are counting on. Sex appeal is nothing new to the fantasy genre but some argue that MMORPGs have taken it to the extreme. It’s not uncommon for female avatars to be nearly naked, even when equipping the same armor as their male counterparts.
Done right, a little bit of cyber-skin can smooth over rough edges and make a game more enticing. But done poorly, it can ruin the immersion and make a game look downright silly.
Let’s take a look at some MMORPGs that got the sex appeal right and some that, well, missed the mark.
First up is EverQuest. Veteran MMORPG players are probably familiar with the lightly dressed High Elf that goes by the name Firiona Vie. Appearing on the cover of the original game box and all its expansion packs, she has been with the venerable series since the beginning. It’s not just the cover art and loading screens that display buxom babes in EverQuest, almost all female avatars are well endowed and wear skimpy outfits.
Judging by EverQuest’s success in the 1990s, and continued existence more than a decade later, it’s safe to say SOE pulled off a healthy balance. The sultry images are ubiquitous but don’t cross any lines. EQ has always been a game aimed at a mature audience.
DON’T: Luna Online
Now for a game that got things wrong. Luna Online is an anime styled free to play MMORPG where players control what appear to be child-like avatars. Oddly, the NPCs of this virtual world appear as adults. Much of the game’s marketing makes use of a girl whose breasts are overflowing from her bra, which seems to be coming apart at the seams.
The actual gameplay in Luna Online isn’t bad, its a fun game with a large class tree. The game does encourage socializing with the built in match-making system but I don’t think many Western gamers are looking to form romantic relationships while playing MMORPGs, especially those with cartoony graphics.
DO: Atlantica Online
Using the image of attractive female in advertising or site artwork can help draw attention and it seems like the folks at ndoors are well aware of this fact. Atlantica Online’s marketing material is flush with such images but is presented in a much more modest fashion than in Luna Online. The more realistic graphics also make Atlantica Online appealing to a more mature audience which makes ndoor’s actions less questionable.
Atlantica Online is an epic turn-based MMORPG with huge environments to explore. Players control up to 5 characters in battle and must work together to conquer cities or large raid bosses. Console RPG fans will feel right at home in Atlantica Online.
This browser based strategy game has gotten a lot of heat on the internet for various reasons. Claims that it was stealing artwork forced the developers to do a major overhaul, even changing the title from the original Civony to Evony. But what Evony is most notorious for is its aggressive, sex-fueled advertising campaign. Banner ads depicting a computer animated queen quickly made way for close-ups of large breasts with phrases like ‘play discreetly’ accompanying them.
Evony certainly got a lot of attention for the campaign but much of it was negative press. Those who clicked the ads were confused and frustrated at what Evony really was, a slow paced medieval strategy sim and quickly abandoned the game.
The truth is Evony didn’t have to go to such lengths. Those who can look past the dishonest marketing will see a perfectly enjoyable strategy game that is in many ways superior to the dozens of older games in the same genre. Of course Evony is no RTS and requires patience to enjoy but for fans of browser based strategy games, Evony is still one of the better options.
These are just a few examples of sex appeal being used in the MMORPG industry to draw in eyeballs. Developers shouldn’t overlook the fact that a little skin can help attract players but it is solid gameplay that will keep them active.
If you know of any other games that went to far in either their advertising, artwork, or in-game graphics be sure to let us know.
By, Erhan Altay