Mass Effect: Why Female Shepard Isn’t As Popular As Male Shepard
The Mass Effect series is built around player choices, so it can be interesting to see what level of disparity there is between with some of the central decisions featured in the trilogy. One such decision is the ability to influence the gender of the protagonist, Commander Shepard. How popular is female Shepard compared to male Shepard among Mass Effect fans?
Mass Effect Legendary Edition brought new life to the series after the controversial release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, but along with the expected upgrades from a remastered collection, it also brought new data about how players actually engage with content for the series. This has led to interesting looks at information on crew members, story choices, and even protagonist Commander Shepard.
BioWare recently released some statistics from players of Mass Effect Legendary Edition, detailing which choices are more popular among fans and which are often underutilized. For example, around 60% of players rescue Ashley rather than Kaidan, the vast majority ally with the Rachni queen in the first Mass Effect game, and most players save Wrex on Virmire. One of these statistics also revealed that only 32% of players pick female Shepard during character customization, with the majority playing as male Shepard.
Part of this could be due to the fact that male Shepard is the first choice to appear when players start up the game. When Mass Effect Legendary Edition begins, players are prompted to choose between John Shepard, the default male character, Jane Shepard, the default female character, or creating a new character entirely from scratch. John Shepard, as the first choice on the list, may be considered the standard among first-time players and therefore gets chosen more frequently. This is arguably supported by the fact that Soldier, the default class of both John and Jane Shepard, is the most popular Mass Effect class among 40% of players. In contrast, the second most popular class is only played among 21% of players, and only 5% pick Engineer in Mass Effect.
Another factor, however, could be how BioWare chose to market the Mass Effect trilogy. Particularly in the case of Mass Effect 1, the default male Shepard is who appears in the center of much of the game’s art and other marketing elements. It wasn’t until Mass Effect 3 that female Shepard became more prominently featured in the series’ advertisements. Mass Effect: Andromeda took further steps to change this; many of Ryder’s appearances leading up to the game’s release either featured them facing away from the camera or balanced a mix of the default male and female character. The upcoming Mass Effect sequel, ME4, seems to be taking a similar approach. The game’s 2020 teaser trailer doesn’t feature Shepard at all, just returning companion Liara T’soni and a piece of what is presumably Shepard’s armor, though this could change as further trailers are released.