The gender of the protagonist matters little, only marketing and quality, get those right and you have big sales. The last of Us part 2 and Resident Evil 2 also sold a lot, which also has female protagonists. Most Final fantasy games also had male and female protagonist and sold quite well.
You can basically play almost the whole of Final fantasy 7 remake as a girl if you want, not too mention the plethora of games you can choose to play as a female, (pretty much all recent Pokémon games, all soul games etc). Hell the female Pokémon player is more iconic if it's just sales based.
However more sales doesn't automatically mean iconic. Lara Croft has starred in a lot of games and is still way more iconic as female heroïne than Aloy. Same way Superman is more iconic as a superhero than let's say Spiderman. Even though the latter has caught up commercially and is definitely more popular lately.
Aloy is still a good protagonist though and we should of course value and celebrate more strong female protagonists. However I don't think Alloy is anywhere near as iconic as tomb raider, perhaps in 10 years. I would go as far to say that Seamus is even more iconic, (mostly thanks to Smash).
We shouldn't forget that most PlayStation and Xbox players are probably still white males, so it's also pretty normal that companies tried to cater to that audience. Not everything needs to be exactly 50/50, woman protagonist are a bit more common now as are female gamers who play big AAA games It's not a new invention or something that never happened before. The strength of Horizon is also that it doesn't make a big deal of it in itself.Last edited by Qwark - on 15 February 2022
Please excuse my (probally) poor grammar