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Adding female characters to new 'Assassin's Creed' would 'double the work,' says Ubisoft

Adding female characters to new 'Assassin's Creed' would 'double the work,' says Ubisoft


Video game developer is the latest to receive criticism for excluding women

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The next game in the Assassin's Creed series will not allow you to play as a female character because it would have "doubled the work" for the game's developer Ubisoft. Speaking to VideoGamer, Ubisoft technical director James Therien said female assassins were on the company's feature list until "not too long ago," but were cut as a matter of "focus and production."

"A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation," Therien said, defending the exclusion by saying it was "not a question of philosophy or choice." Ubisoft's Bruno St. Andre estimated that a female assassin would've necessitated more than 8,000 new animations recreated on a new skeletal structure, but said that playable female characters were "dear to the production team."

Ubisoft said the decision was "not a question of philosophy."

Assassin's Creed: Unity is set during the French Revolution, and allows players to take part in four-player co-operative missions in which they always see themselves as the game's star, Arno Dorian, and their companions as alternate male assassins. Speaking to Polygon, creative director Alex Amancio, said this was the reason Ubisoft decided not include women as playable characters. "The common denominator was Arno," Amancio said. "It's not like we could cut our main character, so the only logical option, the only option we had, was to cut the female avatar."

The reaction has been acerbic

Some of the world's most successful studios have come under fire in recent years for their gender representations. Rockstar Games' Dan Houser justified the fact that none of Grand Theft Auto V's three protagonists were women last year by saying "the concept of being masculine was so key to this story," while Chris Perna, art director for Gears of War developer Epic Games, suggested at a similar time that games with female lead characters would be "tough to justify" on the basis of sales figures. Large video game companies are wary of alienating an audience that it thinks of as largely male. Jean-Max Morris, the creative director of Remember Me — a game with a female protagonist — said that he received feedback from potential publishers who said games with female leads did not sell.

Ubisoft has used female protagonists in its Assassin's Creed series in the past — 2012's Assassin's Creed III: Liberation stars assassin Aveline de Grandpré — but the reaction from fans to this new statement has been acerbic. Many have queried how the vast production, with hundreds of workers split between nine studios across the world, can't spare the resources to make female characters. Others have poked fun at Ubisoft's apparent inability to imagine women.