Future Games Need More Animal Protagonists Like Stray

The success of Stray really tells us how much players want to play as their beloved feline friends.

Entertainment has become much more diverse in the past decade or so. We see people from all different backgrounds represented in films and movies, no matter their color or religion. The video game industry is no exception, and we have seen a lot of progress recently.

Nowadays, main characters in games are varied and not linear middle-aged white men. Many big-budget AAA titles from major companies have female protagonists now, which was rare before. So, even though there is still a lot more to do, we are seeing varying representation in the industry.

Diversity has progressed so far that some characters aren’t even human now. There are so many games that feature animals as their protagonists, and players love them. Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, and Sly Cooper are just some of the older animal-based games which almost every player loves.

Animals in any form of media have always brought success, for example, Tom and Jerry or Scooby-Doo. In gaming, however, animals make up some of the most popular franchises in the industry. Sonic is a legendary series, and it is hard to be unaware of this mega-successful franchise featuring a blue hedgehog.

However, these games feature animals that can speak and are thus anthropomorphic. Recently, we have seen some popular games which depict animals in their natural form, and these titles have been very successful in sales and in critical reception.

Untitled Goose Game and Stray are two such titles that feature animals and have become huge player favorites. Both of these games are no doubt different, but they feature a protagonist of similar kind and popularity. Like real-world animals, these characters also cannot speak and have no human characteristics. All of this makes us think, do companies need to make more animal-based games? Yes, they do!

The Success Of Stray & Untitled Goose Game:

First, let’s talk about the success of the game, which made me think of this article, Stray. All of the gaming worlds have been talking about one game for the past two weeks, and that is Stray. The main reason for that is the game’s furry main character, a cat.

You have to solve puzzles and get back to your family in Stray and all of that by using the abilities of a cat. It’s not every day that we see a concept like this come to life, and players really wanted to try it out. So, the game became a huge success, and the numbers for it speak for themselves.

Stray is the highest-rated game of 2022 on PC, on the Steam storefront, with more than 98% positive reviews. It beat out games like God of War to claim this title and knowing how exemplary Sony‘s 2018 title is, this is a big achievement. Also, this isn’t the only record the game broke on Steam.

New records for concurrent player counts for the developer, Annapurna Interactive, have also been set by Stray. It had more than 50,000 concurrent players on Steam on day one in a huge turnout. These numbers are 42,000 more than Annapurna Interactive’s adventure game, Twelve Minutes, which previously held the record at 8,021 concurrent players.

Being available on day one on PlayStation Plus, Stray became a major hit on PlayStation consoles, too. All of this success went a step further when it went viral over the internet. People who had no connection to the gaming industry posted about playing the trending new cat game.

Hence, Annapurna Interactive’s small indie game kind of became a cultural phenomenon all over the internet, and all of this was because of one main reason, the game’s protagonist is an adorable animal. This is also not the first time we have seen a game based on simple animals do really well.

Panic released Untitled Goose Game back in 2019, and the main character, as you can tell, was an animal, a goose. Like Stray, the goose game also featured puzzles and stealth-based gameplay inspired by Hitman. So, this was also a really unique idea, and it paid off, too.

Untitled Goose Game became a sensation soon after its release on all platforms. It got huge critical acclaim from players and critics on all platforms and was the game of the year at the 23rd Annual D.I.C.E Awards. Sales of the title were also really good and cemented it as a success.

Within two weeks of its release on the Nintendo Switch, Untitled Goose Game sold almost 100,000 copies on the console. Since then, it has sold more than a million copies as of 2020 and has been a major success for the developer, House House, and the publisher, Panic. Like Stray, the game was also very popular on the internet.

Memes of Untitled Goose Game were present all over the place, with players loving the humor of the title. Everyone was especially in love with the goose protagonist, who became a cultural phenomenon. The animal’s violent tendencies made it very popular and gave the game a lot of exposure.

So, Untitled Goose Game is another title that was a success because it featured a unique animal as a main character. Players also seem to love every game that features such animals. It really begs the question, do companies need to make more animal-based games considering how successful they are? I think so!

Making Games With Animal Protagonists Is A Win-Win Situation:

Seeing the amount of success and love games based on animals get, companies need to make more of them. Lots of sensational video game franchises, like Sonic, Star Fox, Spyro, and many more, are popular because of an animal protagonist. Players seem to love such games, and they earn the revenue, so making more of them should be a no-brainer.

If the success of Stray tells us anything, it’s that players will eat up anything which features an animal and is decent. Players love to play as their favorite pets, so the chances of such games failing are also low, and that’s the reason Sony bought its console exclusivity. Hence, making more games that features an animal as the main character sounds like a win-win situation for players and companies. 

Making more games in this niche will be a service to the players and a decent way to earn profits, as most people love animals. So, we really hope that in the future, we see even more games with animal protagonists. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a game about dogs now, and we frankly can’t wait if that ever happens.

Ahmed Mansoor

Your average video games enjoyer with a deep passion for single-player adventures who writes about his favorite hobby.