11/24/2014 01:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

New Sony Ad Markets PlayStation With 'Sexy' Female Doctor

Women may represent nearly half of the gaming market, but video game companies are still catering first and foremost to heterosexual men.

A new ad reportedly published to Sony's European YouTube channel on Friday has drawn criticism for its depiction of a "sexy" female doctor that equates gaming on the PlayStation Vita handheld device to masturbation.

The Verge called the ad "embarrassing for everyone," pointing out that it's obviously targeting teenage boys. Boing Boing called the marketing campaign "so dumb" that it "must be fake."

Sony's commercial was quickly set to private, meaning it can't be viewed from the main account. However, it was hosted elsewhere by a third party on YouTube.

It's unclear if the ad was pulled from the official YouTube page in response to criticism about its portrayal of women.

Representatives from Sony did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the agency that reportedly made the ad.

Despite marketing efforts like this, an increasing number of gamers are women. In fact, statistics published this year by the Entertainment Software Association say that 48 percent of game players today are female.

Still, women have struggled to gain recognition in the gaming sphere. In recent weeks, the #GamerGate controversy has put a spotlight on issues of sexism in the video game industry.

The Sony commercial advertises the "remote play" feature that allows the handheld PlayStation Vita device to act as a second screen and play games from a connected PlayStation 4 console. In other words, users could move from the big TV in the family room to another location with their Vita without interrupting gameplay.

"I know you've already done it today, and I bet you really enjoyed yourself," the ad's "Dr. Grace Powels" says. "How many times did you do it yesterday? Are you afraid you're doing it too often? In the bedroom under your blankets? Or perhaps you prefer the kitchen or in the toilet?"

"You no longer have to feel ashamed. Everybody's doing it, because it's fantastic. And now you can keep going all day long. Don't you like that? You don't even need to stop. And if you want to, you could even join me," she adds.

The ad is just the latest in a long tradition of "sexy" video game commercials aimed at straight men -- in 2008, Heidi Klum appeared in lingerie to advertise "Guitar Hero: World Tour," a 2001 ad for "Conker's Bad Fur Day" featured a writhing woman in bed who appeared to be sexually involved with a squirrel, and so on.

Outlets like BoingBoing and The Verge also pointed out that a 2012 PlayStation Vita magazine ad similarly sexualizes women in an attempt to market the handheld's unique functionality -- traditional buttons and a touchscreen on the front and a "touch pad" in the back: