Does Sex Sell in Online Games?

Making games is a business. The point of making a game is not to provide a great product but to make money, though a fun game is usually necessary to generate income. Developers know that in order to make more money, the game must be accessible to a greater number of people, and they aren’t the only ones who know this. Movie producers strive for that PG13 rating so that kids and adults of all ages can go and see the movie; the PG13 rating brings about a broader, more encompassing demographic. R-rated movies tend to scare off parents because they might not want their children to see flying gore or a graphic sex scene. This is the same reason that game developers do not include sex in online narrative games. Online games, especially those with subscriptions, are dependent on players purchasing and sticking with the game. If Mom comes in to see Junior’s character doing some unsavory things to another character, there’s a decent chance that the subscription will be canceled and the company will lose a paying customer.
They say that sex sells, but in reality this has never been the case with games. Very few M-rated games containing sexual themes ever become hits, with Grand Theft Auto being a rare exception. The top 5 highest grossing games in 2003 were Madden 2003, two Pokemons, Need for Speed: Underground, and The Legend of Zelda. A football game, a game about capturing cute little critters, a racing game, and a classic adventure game from the days of yore. Not a single sexual theme can be found in these games. Makers of MMOGs know this, and they tailor their games accordingly so that pay to play games such as LOTRO and World of Warcraft contain only violence, which is socially acceptable, as opposed to the much more controversial inclusion of sex. Besides, sex in an online game is far different from sexual themes in a console game. In an online game you are forced to interact with dozens of people you never see and know nothing about. It is disturbing to think of the clientele a game containing sex would draw, and potentially dangerous too. Some of the people are probably Nightline veterans, if you know what I mean, and who wants to be exposed to lascivious old men (or women) who are playing the game solely for some online sexual experience with a teenager? No, I believe that sex in online games will not become a popular trend anytime soon, as both monetary and moral issues will prevent such an occurrence.



One thought on “Does Sex Sell in Online Games?”

  1. Agreed. Sex in games — particularly explicit — would actually reduce the revenue and volume of sales to the firm engaging in purveying that sort of experience — unless there is an untapped group of old, lonely perverts that will take up the slack.

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