Persona 5 doesn’t have a female character option because it’s “not worth it,” says game director Katsura Hashino. The director of the PS3 and PS4 game says that it would be a “huge amount” of work to add a playable female character alongside the existing male protagonist.
Hashino is not the only game developer to argue that adding female protagonists is too much work as Ubisoft came under fire for trotting out a similar excuse with Assassin’s Creed Unity‘s lack of playable female characters.
Why Persona 5 Doesn’t Have a Playable Female Character
Speaking to Waypoint, Hashino reveals that the subject of a playable female character comes up at the “very beginning” of development on a new Persona game.
But “When thinking about how much work goes into accomplishing such a feat, it’s a huge amount.” To add a female character option to Persona 5, says the director “we’d have to cut out other things to compensate for the workload, and every time that’s the situation we’ll basically say, ‘it’s not worth it’.”
It should be noted that the PSP-exclusive Persona 3 port, Persona 3 Portable, allows players to choose either a male or female protagonist. It is the only game in the series to do so, however, Hashino says that “With the way that [Persona 3’s] world worked, it was okay for the protagonist to be female,” explaining that as Persona 4‘s protagonist moves from a big city to a small country farm “it seemed more natural for a male character to fulfill that role.”
As Persona 5 is an RPG with plenty of things to do, including battles with supernatural enemies, plenty of sidequests and the ability to romance every female party member (as well as several other female characters), many may say that ‘it’s too much work’ is a fair argument against having a female lead. Persona 3 Portable has already done that, after all, and Hashino and co. now know the effort it would take.
But on the other hand, many will be asking why Persona 5 doesn’t just star a female protagonist in the first place. Some fans have already said that it’s disappointing that a female character option would automatically have to be ‘secondary’ rather than the first choice.
And although it’s also fair that Persona 5‘s story may have just warranted a male character, fans have taken issue with Hashino’s Persona 4 comments. It’s just as reasonable for a woman to move from a big city to a farm as a man and there’s absolutely no reason why a female character couldn’t have been the lead of that game, they say.
Given that Persona 4 also features a ‘TV World’ full of ‘Shadows’ and supernatural goings on, it’s certainly easy to raise eyebrows at the suggestion that a female lead would be the least believable thing about the game. So, it remains to be seen whether the next game in the series will change things up.