The uproar after the Assassin’s Creed DEVS admitted to their choice to not include playable female assassins in Assassin’s Creed: Unity happened so quick, it must have almost given them whiplash.
Ubisoft’s technical designer, James Therein thought he’d take it upon himself to explain the lack of female assassins, which resulted in this statement being released out into the gaming world:
“It was a question of focus and a question of production. Yes, we have tonnes of resources, but we’re putting them into this game, and we have huge teams, nine studios working on this game and we need all of these people to make what we are doing here.”
At the time, Therein probably thought this statement was very reasonable and would make the fans understand the decision. However, looking back on it, Therein must have realized he’s made a massive mistake. Many fans were outraged, including many other video game designers, who know just how long it takes for a female character to be designed, due to their games joining the 21st Century and involving playable female characters.
Spare me on the comments stating: ‘Assassin’s Creed isn’t set in the 21st Century, it mostly take place in major periods in history.’ Excuse me, but lest I remind you about one of the most famous assassin’s during the French Revolution, known as Charlotte Corday, who was indeed female. There’s really no reason why Ubisoft couldn’t include a strong, empowered assassin in Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Absolutely no reason. Here at The Game Fanatics, we’ve been having a very large discussion about this issue and something we’ve picked out is that Ubisoft claim it’s double the work to create a female character. One of my fellow Fanatics stated:
‘You know what’s funny about their statement about not having a female character for the game? They have a bunch of female characters walking around the game helping you blend in. How hard would it be to do a costume change and apply animations to the character mesh?’
Ubisoft’s transparent comment about females being too expensive to render is quite lame, because they seem to have no qualms about the amount of trailers they make for their games, or the expensive maps that aren’t even really fully used to their potential in the game. But include a playable female character? Gasp, the horror, too expensive, they say.
“Animation and modelling a playable character doesn’t require as much commitment and costs as Ubisoft says. In fact, a trend among many indie developers looking to cut on time and costs is to use the same rig (skeleton) for the model to create a common set of animations for both the male and female characters. Just wanted to call out Ubisoft because their ridiculous excuse doesn’t make any sense even from the developer perspective. It clearly seems driven by a marketing decision, which is extremely unfortunate.”
Honestly, if Ubisoft can spend 3 hours just modelling the Notre Dame, they can spend some time on this issue. Is it so hard for a series as infamous as Assassin’s Creed to just include playable female characters? Aveline was great, but her game wasn’t as large scale as all the male one’s have been. Whilst it’s necessary to understand that Ubisoft will only sell what people want to buy, if they spent more money on marketing Liberations, more people might have actually gone for it. They won’t lose an audience due to a playable female character, especially now they know how much people want one. If they had a valid excuse, then people might have just accepted the issue, but their flimsy attempt at explaining just made the problem worse.
Ashraf Ismail, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’s director, has stated that we shouldn’t be surprised if a future addition to the franchise includes a lead female protagonist. He spoke to IGN, saying:
“I actually don’t know what the brand team is working on for the next few games,” he explained. “But the concept of a female assassin, I can tell you it’s not a no-no, it’s not something we’re trying to avoid at all.”
Ubisoft also released a statement, which said:
We recognize the valid concern around diversity in video game narrative. Assassin’s Creed is developed by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs and we hope this attention to diversity is reflected in the settings of our games and our characters.
Assassin’s Creed Unity is focused on the story of the lead character, Arno. Whether playing by yourself or with the co-op Shared Experiences, you the gamer will always be playing as Arno, complete with his broad range of gear and skill sets that will make you feel unique.
With regard to diversity in our playable Assassins, we’ve featured Aveline, Connor, Adewale and Altair in Assassin’s Creed games and we continue to look at showcasing diverse characters. We look forward to introducing you to some of the strong female characters in Assassin’s Creed Unity.
Frankly, people are generally lashing out at Ubisoft because they are disappointed in the company. The fans aren’t dreaming big, they aren’t asking Ubisoft to move mountains. They simply want Ubisoft to recognise that playable female characters are something that fans want. If they just accepted that, instead of making up excuses, everyone would be a lot happier about the situation.
What do you think about Ubisoft’s decision to not include a playable female character? Are you planning on boycotting the game, like many other fans are? Keep it locked at The Game Fanatics and we’ll keep you posted on any further comments Ubisoft make about the subject.