Ubisoft Axed Playable Women for AC: Unity to Avoid Extra Work

Ubisoft has revealed that it cancelled plans for a female co-op characters in Assassin’s Creed: Unity because it would “double” the game’s “production work.”

This information came to light in a recent interview with members of the development team who expressed that the company had intentions to create unique female leads and co-op avatars but opted not to due to the “reality of production.”

“[A female character doubles] the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets,” said creative director Alex Amancio. “Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.”

Just how much you ask? According to level designer Bruno St. Andre, more than 8,000 seperate animations would need to be redone to accommodate a playable female character. Even so, St. Andre would go on to affirm that the decision to make the cut was a difficult one and that fans can expect future iterations to go the extra mile that Unity won’t be.

“I cannot speak for the future of the brand,” he said. “But it was dear to the production team, so you can expect that it will happen eventually in the brand.”

That promise of future inclusiveness has been little solace to many who have expressed outrage over the decision.

“If Saints Row can have female customisable characters then not having them isn’t a ‘reality of development’ it’s just a crappy decision,” said Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett. Pratchett wasn’t the only industry figure to criticize the move. Jonathan Cooper, animation director for Assassin’s Creed, offered a firm contradiction of Ubisoft’s claim that it would “double” the animation work. “In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two’s work,” he Tweeted. “Not a replacement of 8000 animations.”

What do you think of this move? Is Ubisoft just being lazy with its decision to nix plans for female assassin’s in cooperative play, or does this strike you as a genuine case of trying to make a great game within the confines of a budge?

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17 Comments on Ubisoft Axed Playable Women for AC: Unity to Avoid Extra Work

Mathias

On June 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I think the “problem” here is that the creators always had in mind that there would be four male characters in the game, so to suddenly replace any of the with a women would change their original thoughts on how they wanted their game to be.

I don’t really care if it is a male or a female (or a mix of both) character. The gameplay and story is what matters to me.

Eddie

On June 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Mathias the problem with that logic, is unless I’ve missed something, the 4-player co-op is separate from the single-player story. And if your assassin’s are customizable, then you’re not playing as specific characters in the co-op missions, and they’ll probably have minimal plot. So they have no cop-outs there, which would be a crappy excuse anyways

Yep

On June 11, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Another complete nontroversy. I guess that whole attempt to try and get people to think Far Cry 4 was racist because of your biased interpretation of the cover art didn’t go so well so now it’s back to sexism. Ross Lincoln will be so proud, the rest of us couldn’t give a wet fart because this site has cried wolf too many times on social issues.

Kevin

On June 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm

@Mathias: Then the problem becomes that they’re lying about it instead of just saying they didn’t have plans for it in the first place. Either way, Ubisoft are idiots, this is nothing new.

Dach

On June 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

What this seems to be, from what I’ve seen, is an upgraded and expanded version of the Wolf-pack mode of the previous two Assassin’s Creed games.

If that’s the case they may actually introduce female playable characters into this with expansion packs or DLC.

Though they may not, and honestly this sorta gameplay idea seems like a proof-of concept; like many of the new introductions that Assassin’s Creed has done over the years.

Can we just wait until the release of the game before we start denouncing this as sexist?!

SweetPea

On June 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Even if it’s just two days, it’s still extra work. Seriously, why does every game NEED to have at least one playable female character?

T. Jetfuel

On June 11, 2014 at 4:11 pm

The way the co-op works is you’re always playing as the protagonist on your screen, while your co-op partners are also playing as him, only you see them as another character. So there was never any plan whatsoever to allow you to play a female avatar that you’d even get to see on your own screen. The Assassin Bros are just an illusion thrown in to let everyone be The Star while playing with others, not real characters in the full sense. It would be a pretty underwhelming gesture to make your Arno look like a woman to someone else without you even getting to play as her.

If anything, the co-op mode itself is disappointingly half-baked.

Sean

On June 11, 2014 at 4:59 pm

If they follow the story arc you would think at least one of the major characters would be female.

Michael

On June 11, 2014 at 6:59 pm

This is all manure. If that’s true then what about all the NPC female characters in the game? The models are already done for those right?

But this goes way beyond sexual discrimination. It even goes to racial discrimination. The game industry now has the ability to offer players the option to create there own characters and customize them to fit there preference. This is the main ingredient I look for in a game now.

For example: Rhianna above brought up Saints Row. I never liked the GTA series. Its the same repetitive story and gameplay over and over. So when Saints Row was made I spent my money on it because I can create myself in the game plus each sequel introduced to you to new gameplay.

Another example is the disappointing Mass Effect series which also let me customize my Shepard the way I wanted and it carried over to 3 games.

But my favorite games are MMO’s on P.C. like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, SWTOR and now Wildstar. These are games where I have been doing much of my playing at the time.

I have not purchased any next gen machine because there is no game in the market that will let me or anyone else play as their character. So games like Witcher 3, Bloodborne, Deep Down, Watchdogs, Evolve, The order 1886 etc. are not going to games I will spend my time on unless they give me this option. All I’m going to do is what many others like myself do. Save our money.

Ohhh, I almost forgot the best CONSOLE game to come out since the PS3 and Xbox 360 was released.

“DARK SOULS 2″

On second thought I purchased this on P.C. Ah well.

Leah

On June 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Just think for a second where this mindset will bring us. No one will ever take games seriously as a form of art, if all games are
being demanded to be all inclusive. By the end of all this political
correctness we will be left with a gimp white paste of a game, with no
artistic merit.

The reason the Last of Us or GTA V received such acclaim is because they
were daring. They were not politically correct, nor would I want them
to be.

Enough with this. After all, you would never tell Susan Collins to make
a male version of Katniss in the hunger games, just to appease the male
readers or J.K. Rowling she needed to rewrite Harry Potter with Harry
as a girl to appease the women in her audience. . .

Mike

On June 11, 2014 at 9:28 pm

@ Michael I’m sorry, but if you tell me the Witcher 3 should include character customization when it is the story of an already existing character in an already established universe, a universe in which, i might add, there is a plethora of different characters, including strong and influential women, then you’re not really getting the point.
Also, when do i get to play Tomb Raider dudebro edition, with Lawrence Croft as the lead ? Oh, it only goes one way? Oh, ok then. Then maybe Alien: Isolation with Guy Ripley. No ? Fine, i’m never playing The Walking Dead ever again because it’s about a little girl. Hypocrites.

Ron Whitaker

On June 12, 2014 at 7:28 am

@Mike – You’re railing against an argument that no one is making. No one is suggesting that devs should shoehorn female characters into stories that have been written about males. The outcry against Unity is that it’s happening in a multiplayer mode where there’s no compelling story reason not to do it. If we were talking about a story driven part of the game, then it’s a very different conversation. But that’s not what is happening here.

SweetPea

On June 12, 2014 at 9:02 am

@Ron

Okay, so what about Team Fortress 2 or the Battlefield series? Neither of them have female characters, even though both games offer character customization. They’re multiplayer games with no real story written about male characters.
I don’t see anyone attacking Valve or DICE because of it. Why? Because both games are perfectly fine the way they are, and it’s only been in the last few years that people started demanding this all inclusive BS.

Mike

On June 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

@Ron The argument i was opposing was made by @Michael not two post above me. He stated that the lack of a customization feature would prevent him from playing games like the Witcher 3. While on a personal level, he damn well has the right to play what he wants, he did imply that those games were somewhat inferior, and that people will “save their money” in that respect. Again, i’m not against his base opinion, just the way he makes it sound like inclusiveness is suddenly more important than context and story. We are getting to the point where we lose the meaning of sexism and racism by throwing those terms every other week and, in doing so, we diminish the importance of combating true cases of discrimination, be it by race, gender or in any other form. In my mind, the clearest example of this is Far Cry 4, whose box art made “politically correct” people scream “COLONIALISM” in a panicked manner. But then, lo and behold, that “white” guy was actually a native and everyone was disappointed that their posse was stopped just as their were lighting their torches and grabbing pitchforks. Because psychopathic dictators are fine as long as their not caucasian.

Michael

On June 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm

@Ron @Mike

Story for character creation can be universal. All you are doing is switching character roles. A great writer can pull this off. Like Mass Effect where the story revolves around a set character Shepard or Skyrim as the dragonborne. All this is is more excuses not to include character customization. Making a game specifically for a man or woman is lazy.

Like Mikes example of Tomb Raider which the opposite is Uncharted and Alien which is Dead space,
Same story and gameplay premise just different sex.

Ron Whitaker

On June 13, 2014 at 5:59 am

@Mike – You’re right, and I totally overlooked it. That’ll teach me to read comments through the back end of the site.

@Michael – In some stories, great writers can do that. It isn’t something that can be applied to every story. It’s easy to point at Uncharted and say it’s “Tomb Raider with a guy.” While that might be accurate, it’s a far, far different thing than rewriting Uncharted so you could choose to have the whole story be about Elena.

Michael

On June 13, 2014 at 1:58 pm

@Ron

Well not if the idea was in place before making the game. You can have a female protagonist and have a male love interest when creating her.

Look at Resident Evil 2 for example: There was 2 ways to play that game. Either starting with Claire then finishing with Leon or start with Leon and finishing with Claire. When was the last time we played a game that featured both a male and female protagonist. This idea would have worked well with the Batman games which to me was the same thing over and over again. Having Batgirl to go against all the female villains while Batman goes after the male villains would have made the game more enjoyable for everyone. But we are not going to get that with the new Batman Arkham Knight because these developers don’t think outside the box to create variety for everyone. Its just going to be the same Batman game with the same Batman villains with Joker popping up as the main villain at the end once again.